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Neurofeedback and Autism

Autistic kids are the patients, which emotions me most. Autism has very little help, but with Neurofeedback we can achieve great changes.

I still remember our first autistic client. He was 3 years old boy, lets call him Angel.

When Angel came to Neurovitalia, he went all around our office, in every room. He was investigating everything, but still he didn´t look at me or anybody else. We were just like any furniture in the office.

Angel had scars in his left hand as he had a habit to bite it so strong that started to bleed. He was also quite silent boy as he didn´t say word, not even baby talk.

At the beginning Angel had to be sitting in his mothers lap so that he would not pull the electrodes off, but that changed soon. After 4 sessions Anel stopped biting his hand. The placement we use for initial calming also increases the body awareness.

Result is that biting the hand starts to hurt.

The session number 16 I remember best. Angel came with his father. The session went fine and just when they were leaving, father said: “say goodbye”. Angel turned around, looked directly to my eyes, waved his hand and then they left. But I stayed standing still wondering “did that real happen”?

That was a huge step, that was communication and that changes the future. Three years later Angel entered to a normal School.

Neurofeedback y Autismo

Los niños con autismo son los pacientes que más me emocionan. El autismo goza de pocas pciones terapéuticas, pero con Neurofeedback se pueden lograr grandes cambios.

Todavía recuerdo a nuestro primer paciente con autismo. Era un niño de 3 años, llamémosle Ángel.

La primera vez que Ángel vino a Neurovitalia recorrió todas las partes de nuestra oficina investigándolo todo, pero sin mirarme ni a mí ni a nadie; éramos como cualquier otro mueble.

Ángel tenía cicatrices en su mano izquierda ya que tenía el hábito de morderse tan fuerte hasta sangrar. También era un chico muy silencioso, no sabía hablar, ni siquiera balbuceaba.

Al principio, Ángel tenía que estar sentado en el regazo de su madre para no quitarse los electrodos, pero eso cambió pronto. Después de la cuarta sesión, Ángel dejó de morderse la mano. El posicionamiento de los electrodos que usamos para la calma inicial también aumenta la conciencia corporal, por lo que morderse la mano empezaba a ser doloroso.

La sesión número 16 es la mejor que recuerdo. Ángel vino con su Padre. La sesión fue bien y justo cuando se iban, su padre dijo: “Di adiós”. Ángel se dio la vuelta, miró directamente a mis ojos, agitó su mano y luego se fueron. Yo me quedé parado preguntádome: “¿Sucedió realmente?”

Ése fue un gran paso, eso era comunicación y eso cambia el futuro. Tres años más tarde, Ángel entró en una nueva escuela de enseñanza.


When did it start talking about autism?
The word autism was first used by psychiatrist Eugene Bleuler Swiss in 1912. The medical classification of autism was given in 1943 by Dr. Leo Kanner. At one time, an Austrian scientist, Dr. Hans Asperger, coincidentally used the term autistic psychopathy in children who exhibited similar characteristics. Dr. Asperger’s work, however, was not recognized until 1981, probably because it was written in German. The DSM (Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders) in its version published in 1994, DSM-IV defined autism and his associates as “pervasive developmental disorders”. In the latest DSM-V, this definition has been replaced by the term “autism spectrum disorders” (ASDs), which have been included in turn within a broader “neurodevelopmental disorders” category.
What are the Autism Spectrum Disorders?
The concept of Autism covers a range of disorders that affect communication skills, socialization and empathy of the person. People with this disorder have difficulties in relating to others, to communicate, to express how they feel. The manifestation of these disorders varies greatly of one person to another. These behaviours not only make life more difficult for people with autism, but also seriously affect their families and people around them as tutors or teachers. It is also associated with routines and (stereotypies) repetitive behaviours, such as obsessively arranging objects or the repetition of very specific habits and customs. In short, autism is a psychological disorder characterized by intense concentration of a person in his own inner world and the loss of contact with the outside world. According to the British psychiatrist Lorna Wing, people who have autism spectrum have the following characteristics: – Disorder in capabilities of social recognition. – Disorder in capabilities of social communication. – Repetitive patterns of activity, tendency to routine and difficulties in social imagination.
Detection of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Parents of a child with autism are the first ones to notice unusual behaviour. Although it is a fact that for parents can be enormously difficult and painful to label as “autistic” to their child, an early diagnosis is important. Currently, there is no cure for autism. However, research shows that early intervention in an appropriate educational and family environment produces significant improvements for many young children with autism spectrum disorders. As soon as autism is diagnosed, early intervention should begin focusing on developing of communication skills, socialization and cognitive treatments. Currently, they are diagnosed with autism 1 of every 68 individuals and 1 of every 42 boys; being four times more common in boys than in girls. Autism spectrum disorders are often formally diagnosed at the age of 3 years, but new research allow to obtain a diagnosis about 6 months.
What cause the autism spectrum disorder is not known. Research suggests that both genes and environmental factors play an important role. The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), currently, is based on the observed behavioural characteristics, without the help of biomarkers.
Currently there is no an effective way to prevent autism spectrum disorder, effective treatment or cure.
The latest research confirms that early intervention in an appropriate educational environment can obtain significant improvements. As soon as the diagnosis is made must begin with effective intervention programs to emotional stability and development of communication, socialization and cognitive skills. The main treatments are as follows: – Neurofeedback: a neuropsychological technique which trains and exercises the brain. This training increases brain functionality and ability to regulate itself. To do this, neurofeedback uses registration and automatic analysis of brain electrical activity by an electroencephalograph. In recent years, there is growing evidence that people with ASD can present alterations in neuronal connectivity. In his article, “Neurorehabilitation of social dysfunctions: a model-based neurofeedback approach for low and high-functioning autism” Jaime Pineda says the effectiveness of neurofeedback as a treatment for autism, combined with behavioural treatment, results in a significant improvement of symptoms presented. – Educational behavioural interventions: It is advisable to perform them in both the individual diagnosed with autism and their family environment. This therapy consists of a series of sessions with a goal: obtaining capabilities which develop social and language skills on subjects. It is usually used behavioural therapy ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) which is based on the behaviourist model of learning. This therapy teaches skills through reinforcers and aversives. The therapy also includes instructions to the people in the subject’s environment (parents, siblings, etc.) and their goal is the acquisition of communicative skills by both sides, to improve the relationship between the person diagnosed and their environment, increasing the level welfare and happiness. – Emotional and psychological interventions: it has as purpose acquisition and development of emotional skills, developing empathy. As educational social interventions, this therapy includes the immediate social circle of autistic subject working the expression of their feelings, frustrations, impressions, etc. Here also we would include music therapy and animal therapies. – Specific diets,  as free caffeine or gluten and rich in certain vitamins. – Medications: there are no specific medication for treating autistic disorder. In consequence, it is used palliative therapy of symptoms developed by the subject. The most common drugs administered to these patients are anxiolytics, antidepressants and those ones used for treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The education of a child is a task that requires a lot of involvement and energy, this investment of effort is much higher in the case of children with autism spectrum symptoms. Before, we have summarized different types of treatment, but we must remember that all programs must incorporate the child’s interests, tastes, habits, preferences etc. Since the more comfortable the child with treatment, the easier it will be to follow it.
Benefits of application of Neurofeedback in Autism
– Grater social awareness. – Increase in social and communication skills. – Improvement of eye contact. – Reduction of stereotypies. – Reduction or elimination of tics and self-harm. – Development and strengthening of preverbal language and verbal. – Decline and disappearance of absences, epileptic attacks if any. – Empowerment of psychomotor coordination.

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