There has been much research done over the past 20 years on Autism, PDD, [...]
Autism: What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
Autism is a brain disorder that frequently makes it difficult to communicate with and effectively interact with others. With this condition, the different areas of the brain fail to work together. Autism, PDD, and Asperger’s are all disorders categorized under the heading of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Most people with ASD will usually have some trouble relating to others. However, early diagnosis and treatment have helped more and more people who have autism to reach their full potential.
ASD and Brain Function:
Autism is the term used to describe what professionals call a complex developmental disability. It is widely believed that symptoms begin to become evident during the first three years of a child’s life. This condition involves a series of neurological disorders that effect normal brain function, inhibiting development of the person’s communication and social interaction skills. People with ASD have issues with verbal and non-verbal communication, a wide range of social interactions, and academic standards. With the qEEG or Brain Map as an assessment tool, we can see the electrical activity of the brain. We can then determine where and how the dysregulation occurs allowing us to develop treatment protocols to put the brain back into balance without medication.
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Autism Spectrum Disorder and Common Symptoms:
The severity of symptoms may vary greatly, but all people with ASD have some common symptoms in the following areas:
- Social interactions and relationships:
- 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; may have difficulty understanding another person’s feelings, such as pain or sorrow.
- Verbal and nonverbal communication:
- Delay in, or lack of, learning to talk. As many as 40% of people with autism never speak.
- Problems taking steps to start a conversation. Also, they have difficulties continuing a conversation after it has begun.
- Stereotyped and repetitive use of language. They often repeat over and over a phrase they have heard previously (echolalia).
- Difficulty understanding their listener’s perspective. For example, a person with ASD 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:
- An unusual focus on pieces. Younger children 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 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.
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AutismSpectrum Disorder Case Study
This case involved an eleven year old boy who had benefited from applied behavioral modification training, and extensive communication, occupational and physical therapies, along with social play interventions and counseling. Prescribed neuroleptic medications were discontinued due to problems with muscle spasms, dehydration of the mouth, excessive constipation and general agitation. The boy’s parents reported demonstrated social deficits in interpreting social cues, including responding appropriately to anger or affection. In addition, the parents described other behaviors: emotional self-regulation proved difficult, with loss of control when frustrated, or when faced with strange or sensorialy overwhelming environments. Verbal outbursts, disruptive and physically aggressive behaviors, common with autism, were part of the boy’s daily experience, along with banging his head, biting, and sudden freezing in position. The boy had an extensive vocabulary and was hyperlexic, but was challenged by an inability to coordinate his thoughts with logical sentence construction. He also demonstrated facial contortions, gesturing and tone mismatches with his behaviors,and compulsively self-stimulated with inappropriate touching.
He appeared to have a high tolerance for and lack of awareness of extreme pain, yet could be overly sensitive to minor sensations such as tags on his clothes.
Early after the boy completed neurofeedback training sessions for Autism symptoms his parents reported their son’s behaviors were unchanged. Shortly thereafter the parents reported minimal aggressive incidents for two days in a row and that he had hugged his Mother spontaneously and appropriately a couple of times. Thereafter reports were mixed, with a few “difficult days” and numerous “incidents”, replete with verbal outbursts, head banging, biting, crying, etc. As training progressed, the parents noted the boy’s improved ability in thought construction and therefore with communication. The boy seemed to be less frustrated, and had no incidences of “melt down” for almost a full week. Midway through treatment the parents reported the boys self-stimulating behaviors had diminished and the Mother noted the boy could tolerate tags and certain sensations against his skin more readily then in the past. The Mother also reported on the boy’s siblings, who were apparently enjoying their brother’s company and were starting to include him in more activities. Later the parents reported “more congruent” self-expression from their son, with fewer facial distortions and incidences of arrested movement. The boy was consistently able to modify his behavior in most instances, appropriately expressing his needs and also responding appropriately to social cues. Toward the end of in-office sessions the boy reported with a very wide grin that he had won a Sunday-school award for “most admired” student. The parents reported that because traits such as inappropriate touching, facial contortions, and strange gesturing had all but abated, they felt their son’s progress was sufficient.
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