Neurotherapy, also known as neurofeedback training or EEG biofeedback, allows children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to visualize their brainwaves. Scientists theorize that a part of the brain called the mirror neuron system may develop differently in autistic children. The brain cells involved in the mirror neuron system are responsible for imitation and empathy. The theory behind neurofeedback training for ASD is that by visualizing brainwave patterns, participants can actively control their brains and move their patterns more toward those of normal children.
Neurofeedback is used primarily to treat high-functioning children with ASD who struggle with learning disabilities and attention deficits.
What does it involve?
In neurotherapy, the child wears a special cap with many sensors that are attached to an electroencephalograph (EEG) machine. The EEG monitors their brainwaves while a visualization of their brainwave patterns is represented on a screen. The neurofeedback clinician will coach the child to become aware of the patterns they are producing and to try to change them in certain ways. The child will gradually learn how to change their thinking patterns toward those of more typically developing children.
Many different types of clinicians may be trained to administer neurofeedback. Before selecting a practitioner, be sure to ask questions about their training and educational background. Find out how much experience they have in administering neurofeedback to children with ASD. Ask about the goals and metrics for success in neurofeedback training. For instance, they may provide reports explaining any before-and-after changes in neurometrics (measures of the electrical activity in the brain).
The goal of neurofeedback training is to improve learning ability, attention problems and autistic behaviors in children with ASD.
Several studies have shown that neurotherapy can improve attention and autistic behaviors in children with ASD. It is unclear how long these improvements last. Researchers agree that neurofeedback training is a promising therapy for autism that requires further study.
Neurotherapy does not usually have side effects. However, some children have complained of headaches or tense muscles after receiving neurotherapy.
If you pay privately for neurotherapy, it can become expensive.
Depending on where you live, it may be difficult to travel to neurotherapy appointments.