The Drug Solution
Previously the only effective way to treat this disorder has been through the use of drug treatments. Unfortunately, the effects of these drugs are only temporary. Once the drugs leave the bloodstream, so do all of the beneficial effects. Therefore, to control this disorder one usually needs to be dependent on medication for life. In addition to this dependency, serious side effects are often found with the use of these drugs.
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) include Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and Asperger’s Syndrome. These disorders are usually diagnosed in childhood and greatly affect the life conditions of the individual and their family. The symptoms of these disorders vary somewhat with the condition, however, in general they include: inattention, hypersensitivity, repetitive rituals, verbal and non-verbal communication and concomitant social problems, self-stimulation, impulsivity, and obsessivity, among others.
At this time, there is no cure for Autism. In the past, treatments could not directly change misaligned brain wave patterns. In recent years, neurofeedback has emerged as an exciting and innovative treatment approach in adjunct to existing therapeutic modalities, yielding remarkable improvements. In most cases of mild to moderate Autism Spectrum Disorders, patients undergoing neurofeedback treatment are experiencing significant improvement of symptoms.
The Alternative Solution
Fortunately there is an alternative to this scenario. These sensory processing levels are capable of being retrained.
Recently, with the advent of sophisticated EEG (electroencephalograph) analysis and high speed computers a successful technique has been developed for the retraining of certain neuro-processes. One of these applications is the training of the brain to process sensory information in the appropriate fashion.
This technique of neural training is called neurofeedback.
Neurofeedback is a drug-free, safe, non-invasive, and painless procedure. The patient’s activation levels for these sensory processes are monitored, processed, and displayed to the patient. Through a system of audio and visual re-enforcers the patient is taught to modify these processes. Over the course of the training the brain adopts these adjusted processing levels as its new way of working. Once completed no further training is necessary.
Upon completion of the training the aforementioned AD/HD related symptoms come to within normal limits associated with being calm, alert, and focused. For ASD patients there is significant improvement in symptoms.
Also coming to within normal limits are the feelings of sadness, frustration, anger, and guilt, which often disrupt family dynamics and cause excessive parental strain.
Typically training consists of 30 sessions of 30 minute lengths each. Training sessions of at least twice per week are usually recommended.