Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder sometimes characterized by a lack of appropriate eye contact, facial expression, social interaction, communication, and restricted repetitive behavior. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016) reported the prevalence of ASD as 1 in every 54 persons.
Research has shown that related symptoms of ASD are the result of brain dysfunction in multiple brain regions. Functional neuroimaging and electroencephalography research have shown this to be related to abnormal neural connectivity problems. The brains of individuals with ASD show areas of both excessively high connectivity and deficient connectivity. In other words, some areas of the brain are chatting excessively with themselves, while failing to communicate normally with other relevant regions.
How do I know if my child has Autism?
The severity of symptoms will vary however there are some core symptoms that most people share.
Social interactions and relationships. Symptoms may include:
- Significant problems developing nonverbal communication skills, such as eye-to-eye gazing, facial expressions, and body posture.
- Failure to establish friendships with children the same age.
- Lack of interest in sharing enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people.
- Lack of empathy. People with autism may have difficulty understanding another person’s feelings, such as pain or sorrow.
Verbal and nonverbal communication. Symptoms may include:
- Delay in, or lack of, learning to talk. As many as 40% of people with autism never speak.1
- Problems taking steps to start a conversation. Also, people with autism have difficulties continuing a conversation after it has begun.
- Stereotyped and repetitive use of language. People with autism often repeat over and over a phrase they have heard previously (echolalia).
- Difficulty understanding their listener’s perspective. For example, a person with autism may not understand that someone is using humor. They may interpret the communication word for word and fail to catch the implied meaning.
Limited interests in activities or play. Symptoms may include:
- An unusual focus on pieces. Younger children with autism often focus on parts of toys, such as the wheels on a car, rather than playing with the entire toy.
- Preoccupation with certain topics. For example, older children and adults may be fascinated by video games, trading cards, or license plates.
- A need for sameness and routines. For example, a child with autism may always need to eat bread before salad and insist on driving the same route every day to school.
- Stereotyped behaviors. These may include body rocking and hand flapping.
Autism and Neurofeedback
We have learned that children who have autism have a global imbalance in their brain due to a variety of medical reasons that are still being studied. Research has shown that autism is a disorder that will need ongoing treatment throughout the course of a person’s life. However, neurofeedback is able to open pathways in the neural connections in order to facilitate learning and overall behavioral improvements. Some of the changes that we have seen are improved communication, fine and large motor skill improvement, language development, and fewer tantrums.
What does the Doctor Say?