You have a lovely child. A son you take pride in. But as he matures from an infant into a toddler you begin to notice that something is not quite right. At first it’s ineffable, but you gradually notice that he begins to withdraw from touch, isolates from his siblings, frequently plays by himself, and freaks-out if is routine is disturbed. His language is delayed and he shies away from new and novel situations that most children his age gravitate to. You seek out a consultation and receive the diagnosis you suspected but feared – your child has Autism.
The frantic efforts of the autistic child to control the rush of stimuli from the environment is profoundly isolating and distressing for both the child and for his care givers and family.
The symptoms of Autism include:
- Disconnection from others. Children with autism often seem distant or emotionally disconnect from loved ones including parents and siblings.
- Empathizing with others. As they age, children with autism will frequently exhibit difficulty with understanding or appreciating situations from other people’s perspective.
- Indifferent to human interaction. While most children engage with caregivers virtually from birth, children with autism don’t engage through eye-contact, touch, or other sensory modalities. In fact, they may push away when touched.
- Emotional outbursts. In response to normal situations, children with autism may exhibit an unbalanced emotional reaction such as tantruming, or unprompted aggression against themselves or others.
- Delayed language development. Developmentally, most children can speak a few simple words in their first 18 months, string 2-word phrases together by 24 months, and by 36 months form and speak basic sentences. Children with autism frequently don’t hit these milestones and may demonstrate considerable delays in expressive language.
- Repetitive behaviors. Children with autism may arrange and rearrange the same group of items obsessively, repeat phrases, or repetitively engage in movements such as rocking back and forth, fluttering their hands, etc.
- Sensitivity to external stimuli. Children with autism may show hypersensitivity to certain sounds, bright lights, smells, tastes or textures prompting frantic efforts to alleviate the stimulus.
As devastating as this disorder is, there is help. Although preliminary, studies conducted over a number of years have found that neurofeedback or brain biofeedback, can result in demonstrable and sustained improvement in cognitive functioning, social interactions, and communication, and reduce stereotyped and repetitive behaviors.