Deeply Rooted in Neurofeedback for Autism Spectrum Disorder

By: Donny Smith, CSW Intern, MSW

Medications have been proven to treat symptoms, however they do not correct the source of the problem in an individual. Here at The Green House Center for Growth & Learning, we have seen Neurofeedback to have lasting effects on individuals with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) without using medication. Neurofeedback, which is also called EEG biofeedback, is a proven way to help individuals improve the way their brain functions. This is done through several sessions of intensive brain training exercises. This process teaches the brain how to function better, it is simple, painless, and non-invasive. Neurofeedback for autism spectrum disorders focuses on improving the way the individual processes social information and improvement in emotional networks.

Personal Experience with Neurofeedback

I am a father of a child, who from birth, was receiving early intervention. Our son was born eight weeks early during an emergency C-section. It was touch and go for the first three weeks of his life, having stopped breathing several times. Thanks to UVRMC we were able to bring him home before his official due date. We were lucky enough to have an in home nurse come and check on his development for the first year of his life. As an elementary teacher, my wife was able to talk with our special need teachers to keep our son involved in all the early intervention programs out there. We had “Kids on the Move” come to our home until he was three and then he moved on to the District special needs preschool. They diagnosed our amazing son as Developmentally Delayed. We always suspected him as being on “the spectrum”, we never wanted/needed a label for our fun little boy as long as he was getting the help he needed.

As he continued to go to school the gap between our little guy and his peers increased. We continued to get him the help academically he qualified for at school with his IEP, including speech. We continued to research things that would make his school life at school a little easier. In third grade he used a pressure vest to help him focus in class. It would work for a time and then slowly wear off. As fourth grade approached I discussed with my wife the idea of Neurofeedback. She was open to almost anything that could help our young son feel successful. He began Neurofeedback just as school started. She did not notice anything right away. Then after a few sessions my wife started to notice it was working.

It was a typical Saturday morning. Our son had asked to go downstairs in the storage room to get a couple of different boxes of cereal. I told him of course. Upon returning I noticed one of the boxes he chose was already upstairs. I asked him to return the duplicate box and at the same time cringed to get ready for his frustration and yelling of having to return the item. To my surprise he said “okay”, quite pleasant and headed down the stairs. As I was reflecting of the huge improvement I saw him slip on the third to the last step. I immediately prepared myself for his frustration and yelling about how he hated the stairs and he would kill them. Again, I was pleasantly surprised when he got up said “ouch” and returned the cereal to the storage room. From that point on, my wife made sure he did not miss a session and told my sister-in-law about Neurofeedback. She had actually noticed the positive improvements we were seeing in our son. She has since started taking her son for Neurofeedback and says she has seen huge improvements as well, getting compliments of improvements in her son’s ability to focus and get his work done.

As a side note, this year my son was officially at grade level or just below. This is amazing news for a family who was advised to put their fun, energetic, non-communicative child in an alternative kindergarten when he was five years old. He had gone through two years of special needs pre-school including one summer and was not improving as much as we had hoped. We opted not to keep him in a mainstream classroom and worked closely with the school and teachers.  We give credit to early intervention, resources available to educate us as parents and finally Neurofeedback for the successes our young son is having in school and communicating with his peers.