Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) vary in terms of severity and deficit level but in general experience trouble with social interactions and communicating with others. Early intervention is key for children with autism to improve their symptoms, scholastic abilities, and attention levels.
Many different therapies and behavioral strategies are utilized by parents and caregivers to best help their child succeed and strengthen the areas that they struggle in. A new treatment modality for ASD is a type of neurofeedback for autism called infra slow fluctuation (ISF) and it can be a beneficial supplement to other therapies.
Neurofeedback for Autism
Neurofeedback is a treatment therapy which focuses on “training your brain” to self-regulate and work at its best level of functioning. Neurofeedback has been found to help people with many different mental and neurodevelopmental disorders. Our brain produces electrical patterns in the form of brain waves and the frequencies of these waves determine our arousal levels.
In a neurofeedback session, when a person is focusing and attending on a video or task, the brain is rewarded (image and video are clear); however, when they become distracted, the video or image pauses/ blurs. Your brain becomes reinforced every time you attend and slowly over each neurofeedback session, your brain learns on its own to remain in the attentive and aroused state.
Infra-slow fluctuation focuses on the slowest brainwave frequencies in the human cortex which are associated with the coordination of neural network communication. Different than neurofeedback, ISF works to train the slowest brain waves and by training the lower frequencies, you can affect the higher ones as well.
While it can sound vastly complicated (the interworking of our brainwave patterns), through the concept of harmonics, slower frequencies and faster frequencies are connected and can be effected via one another.
ISF vs Neurofeedback
Neurofeedback focuses on reward training the brain when the EEG value is above or below the set value. ISF does not train the brain in the neurofeedback way and rather “shows the brain” its own state (like a mirror). ISF impacts the autonomic nervous system and ISF training focuses on maintaining an optimal frequency for each client. The optimum frequency is chosen by identifying the autonomic responses to the training in session (finger temperature, heart rate variability etc.).
The trainer monitors the frequency pattern being produced by the persons’ brain and when an optimal level is reached, the individual is alerted. Through these sessions, a person learns to identify their own optimal states. After repetition of sessions, behavior begins to slowly change and the person self-monitors to keep their brain and body in an aroused and attentive state.
BENEFITS OF ISF
Individuals with autism spectrum disorder experience deficits in social interactions, communication and also engage in repetitive behaviors which are related to the abnormalities in their neural connection.
ISF works to normalize these network connections which in turn improve the symptoms in individuals with ASD and also improve their academic progress as well. In general, ISF lowers anxiety level, improves emotional regulation, language skills, and reciprocal social interactions.