This article was sent to me recently and I fully support this mom on how dedicated she was to overcoming her son’s phobias. Our culture today is programmed to coddle and promote our children’s fear of places, objects and things that make them uncomfortable instead of retraining the brain that there is nothing to fear. Our family has also encountered a similar situation where my son would not go in the bathroom if there was an automatic hand dryer, insisting that he go sometimes would require several family members forcing him into the room screaming and hollering. Sometimes we must endure those moments in order that our children and family members can get better! It is awesome to see the doctors supporting this mother’s method to help her son overcome his fear.
Even if you do not have a child with special needs, please read this article and support a parent in helping their child overcome their fears!
What I did to help my 5-year-old autistic son overcome his intense fear of indoor spaces might not have been right or even safe. Doctors didn’t recommend it. The people who witnessed it were appalled, understandably. I don’t suggest this for others.
I could have been more patient with conventional methods, but I wasn’t. I am not certified in restraining children, though doctors say anyone attempting what I did should be. They would also recommend a much slower approach.
I am writing this because I hope to educate people about the burden families face when their autistic children have tantrums in public spaces, so next time you witness such a struggle you don’t immediately resort to blaming the parents. I’m also reaching out to fellow parents in pain to remind them to cast off shame, because I believe nothing is more important than getting your autistic children out into the world.
It was a desperate time. Nothing else had worked for Zack — flashcards, photos, play therapy. gradual exposure to feared indoor spaces. That is how, very much against his will, I ended up physically dragging Zack into Verizon Center (now Capital One Arena) one day 10 years ago to see his favorite character, Elmo, perform as part of a “Sesame Street Live!” show.
There is nothing anyone could have said that would have convinced me my son was anything other than precious and worthy of the extreme measures I intended to take to save him from a life entrapped by autistic phobias.
My mind-set that day: If I can get him through this without either of us getting physically hurt, his fear of this place will be behind him for good. He will reset his association with this arena, and it will no longer be frightening. I believe this deeply, but getting him over the hurdle is terrifying.
We enter Verizon Center, and the moment the exterior door closes behind us, Zack reels back and plunges toward it, trying frantically to get back outside. At 50 pounds, his furious strength is a troubling match for mine. He is a thoroughbred of resistance.
My usually buoyant child is slamming his fists and clawing at the metal door’s push bar. I quickly seize him by the shoulders and pry his fingers from the bar as he jerks his head back in a sudden motion. His skull smashes into my chin, and I taste the metallic tang of my own blood.
I give up trying to pry his fingers away, wrap both arms tightly around his torso and yank him back fiercely. We both tumble to the floor. Zack momentarily escapes my grip and scrambles back toward the door, but I leap on top of him, pinning his entire body flat to the ground. We are still in the vestibule.
This was a mistake, too ambitious, I think to myself. Everything is happening too quickly.
Breathlessly, I pivot myself to secure Zack’s entire body between my thighs as I clamp down tightly and interlock my feet to prevent him from breaking free. Zack is shrieking at an alarmingly high pitch, but I keep heaving and dragging us both, inch by dreadful inch, closer to the show’s main entrance area, which we are separated from by a red curtain. I can hear voices around us.
“Hey, lady! Your kid obviously doesn’t want to go to the show!”
An icy shock sprints down my back, and I reflexively arch and look around wildly. Someone has just thrown their soda at me.
No, I’m not giving up.
Suddenly, I feel an imaginary cloak descend and slowly envelop me. These are the moments I’ve been dreading, but also building toward, and I don this invisible armor, now impervious to ridicule because I don’t care what anyone thinks. My singular focus is getting Zack where he needs to be: inside the main area, looking at Elmo. The show has already begun inside, and I know Elmo is on the stage.
Okay, get in his head now, talk back to his thoughts. Keep it simple.
“Zack, you are doing it! I know you’re afraid, but all you have to do is stay here, you’re already doing it, you’ve already won. Just stay and watch, sit and watch, that’s it. You did it. You’re doing it. You did it!” A simple and repetitive mantra to penetrate the panic and break through the force field.
In a now recovered and controlled voice, I loudly announce, “My son has autism and he’s terrified. I’m working with him to get his fears under control.”
A manager strides toward us, summoned to calm the explosive scene.
“Miss, I’m afraid this is too disruptive to the other patrons to let this continue, you’ll have to leave.” No response. Repeat with emphasis. “Miss, you are creating a public disturbance, and I need to escort you and your child out of the auditorium right now.”
“No,” I respond calmly without looking up. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m a paying customer too, and I have a right to be here, and so does my autistic son.”
Suddenly, from the far reaches of my mind, the legal jargon jettisons to the surface. What was that ADA language about the right of disabled people to access public facilities? That they have a right not be discriminated against because of their disability, a right to reasonable accommodations to access public venues. My son is not legally required to enter the auditorium quietly. He’s allowed to enter on his own disabled terms. I am his reasonable accommodation.
Zack will ride in on me.
Okay, one more push forward with Zack squeezed between my legs, and that curtain that separates the hallway where we are and the seated auditorium is within arm’s reach. Once the curtain is pulled back, he will see all the children in their seats, and he will see Elmo on the stage. But I am on the floor and I can’t reach the curtain.
I quickly gesture with my hand to the woman guarding the entrance to please pull back that curtain so my son can finally see inside and glimpse the purpose behind the long, bitter altercation. I need her to act quickly. She tries a few times to reach my son with chirpy words that fall on deaf ears.
“LADY, he’s got AUTISM, please just pull back the curtain!” I hiss.
She wordlessly pulls back the plush red velvet in a single swoop to reveal a bright-red, singing caricature on a large stage, clearly visible even from our long distance. I quickly point Zack in his direction and exclaim, “There’s ELMO! Elmo is singing! Look, Zack, it’s Elmo!”
Zack’s eyes catch hold of Elmo, and suddenly he’s too stunned to scream or speak, his hysteria abruptly interrupted by the sight of a familiar friend. Transfixed by the furry creature, Zack sits still and stares intently.
I quickly move to slide him further along the floor, closer to the cushioned seats. The rigidness in Zack’s body gives way as he relaxes, a literal crossover to the other side.
Zack is as smooth and malleable as liquid as he sits upright, almost unaware of his own physical existence and wholly locked in on Elmo. I calmly walk him to his seat. The past and future are of no consequence; for him, there is only the present.
As I gaze around the auditorium, Zack is indistinguishable from his peers. In these precious moments I can savor the reality that Zack has succeeded in the greatest challenge of his life — overriding his intense phobia of indoor spaces — long enough to access something beloved.
It took 36 minutes and 45 seconds. And, yes, it was worth it.
It was the first in a series of exposures to crowded public places for Zack and me. His transition at the Verizon Center allowed him to enjoy the Elmo show, and also return repeatedly to that auditorium without fear, because he replaced his previous negative association with a positive one. For Zack, the gradual exposure approach was not effective. What worked for him was a single, traumatic episode in which he could grasp the purpose of the exposure and feel good about it.
I spoke with his doctor afterward, and he confirmed that by refusing to allow Zack to escape the place he feared, I broke the pattern of negative reinforcement and allowed him to “reset the record.” I also learned that, as a last resort, in a controlled way and only after years of therapy, a licensed behavioral clinician might have physically restrained Zack to force him to confront his fears, had he not responded to more gradual methods.
In the past, when I’d retreated home with him during a tantrum, I was unintentionally reinforcing his phobia. But the doctor made it clear to me he would not recommend this method for any child unless all other methods had been exhausted, and the child was able to handle it without causing harm to himself or others.
For us, the Elmo success paved the way for outings to other indoor places he feared — Disney World, movie theaters, airplanes, the Baltimore Aquarium. Each exposure required less time for him to acclimate. We found that while Zack was initially confused and frightened, he always adjusted. Over time, he became less fearful of all indoor places. He also gained self-esteem once he realized he was conquering his fears and accessing more of the world. And in possibly his biggest win, his overall demeanor became as calm and predictable as his perception of life itself.
Ellenby is a lawyer, writer and mother based in Montgomery County. This piece was adapted from her upcoming book, “Autism Uncensored: Pulling Back the Curtain,” which details her struggles and triumphs with her son’s autism.
I am sharing this mother’s story on benefits of using cultured foods to help her son’s autism. We have personally used kefir for a short time but then stop. This is worth looking at again!!
Her name was Mary and she changed my life the day I met her. It was the very beginning of my journey with cultured foods, and I was in hiding with my newfound knowledge. People didn’t understand what I was doing, and the thought of letting food ferment on your counter for days at a time . . . well, it sounded crazy to people and they let me know they thought I was nuts. So I decided I wasn’t going to tell anyone what I was doing. Nobody could have convinced me that these foods were bad. They had healed and made me well and I was so grateful. My own body had showed me the power of making probiotic foods and there was no turning back for me. But I didn’t like the ridicule, so I kept quiet until one day I met Mary. Our kids were in a drama class together, and I had brought some cultured vegetables and kefir with me to class. When she saw it, she asked me what it was, her eyes lit up, and I thought, “Oh no, here it comes.” But instead, she started sharing with me how these foods had changed her boys who were severely autistic. So miraculous was the change in her boys that I could hardly tell they had any tendency towards autism. They were bright and smart and I loved them. She shared with me her journey and how much these foods had helped her boys, along with exercise and therapy, and we became fast friends. Every week we would sit and talk about bacteria and all it could do. Mary was so smart and had such knowledge that I sucked it up like a sponge. I finally had a friend who understood my love for microbes and it felt like pure joy to me. These foods hadn’t just changed me and my family, they’d changed Mary’s family, too, and we were on to something. The stories she told me of her boys convinced me early on that I needed to learn as much as I could about these cultured foods. Mary gave me the courage I needed to spread the good news that cultured foods worked, and for that I will always be grateful. Her life experience with autism and cultured foods was a mighty thing to behold; and years later, research is catching up with what Mary knew for sure – probiotic foods work for autism.
The trial that was so successful, it failed
One study on autism that really made an impact on me was done by food microbiologist Glenn Gibson at the University of Reading. It is referred to by some people as “the trial that was so successful, it failed.” The study was done with 40 autistic children all between the ages of 4 and 13 years. Each child was randomly placed in one of two groups. For three weeks, one group was given a probiotic supplement with the species Lactobacillus plantarum, which is abundant in cultured vegetables. The other children were given a placebo. After three weeks, the researchers planned to switch what each group was receiving, supplement or placebo. However, the parents of the children taking the probiotic saw such positive results that they knew which group they were in and refused to switch to the placebo. They saw too many improvements in not only digestive health but also mental and behavioral health that they said it was heartbreaking to have to stop their child from taking the probiotic. The children were calmer and had a greater ability to listen and concentrate. The trial had such a large dropout rate that it was discontinued. 1
In another study, which was done on mice at the California Institute of Technology, researchers found that mothers who had an induced infection or inflammation during pregnancy had offspring with autism-like behaviors, such as social avoidance, anxiety, repetitive actions, and GI disorders. The researchers fed these mice Bacteroides fragilis, a bacterium that has been used as probiotic therapy in animals with GI disorders and is also found in a healthy human gut. The result? The behavior of the treated mice changed. They were more likely to interact with other mice, had reduced anxiety, and were less likely to become aggressive. 2
Kids with autism have bee found to have different gut flora. 3 The pathogenic bacteria called “Clostridia,” as well as the lesser-known bacteria called Sutterrella was abundant in their guts. One study done by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Nisonger Center 2017 4 showed that restoring the gut flora with a mixture of healthy bacteria can help change GI disorders that often accompany autism, and there is also a huge brain-gut connection in which microbes play a big part. Not only does bacteria help us digest our meals properly, but as the microbes break down food, they release waste products that travel through our bloodstream to the brain and impact our mood by stimulating the vagus nerve which affects the brain. Many of the bacteria waste products are neurotransmitters that have the ability to influence our moods in both those with autism and those without it. Anxiety, depression, hostility, and improving problem solving can often be helped greatly by changing the bugs in our gut. Certain bacteria in the gut release serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), both of which can change the mood. I have witnessed this first hand.
Mary fed her boys tons of kefir and cultured vegetables and they got lots of exercise which helps your microbes, too. Those boys transformed, and not just a little; it turned their lives around. I have another story that a mom sent to me that I’d love to share with you. You can also find her story on my Lives Touched page.
“Hi there, Donna! I bought milk kefir grains from you back in early 2014 after watching your moving testimonial video. My son, Hudson, was 4 years old at the time and had recently received a PDD-NOS diagnosis (which is a non-specific autism spectrum diagnosis) and I was desperately researching possible causes of this frustrating syndrome. He was always a sweet child but had chronic constipation, behavioral problems, and severe learning disabilities. When I started him on milk kefir, he was only able to label people and things when I pointed to them; that was the extent of his communication abilities. The first night after giving both of us kefir in the form of chocolate protein shakes, I put him in bed with me out of fear of the dreaded Herxheimer reaction. I had some mild reactions myself, but what was very scary for me was waking up to Hudson wheezing and sounding like he couldn’t get any air into his lungs. I jumped up, put on shoes and buckled him into his car seat and we took off for the ER at the children’s hospital. Midway there, I heard a little voice singing in the backseat . . . so I pulled over, peered back at him and he was just smiling back at me and singing. That was the only day that he had a scary reaction from the die-off, but it still sticks out in my memory because it showed me the battle that was happening in his body with the introduction of an army of good bacteria. Two weeks after that day, Hudson began speaking in full sentence . . . TWO WEEKS. I could not even believe what I was hearing! After that, I became a kefir prophet myself and my whole family started making and drinking kefir. Hudson is now almost 9 years old and is thriving! He is telling gross jokes and acting like a neuro-typical immature boy and I couldn’t be happier. In terms of his learning, he has become an avid reader and never wants us to tell him how to pronounce a difficult word . . . he tried for at least 5 minutes the other night to pronounce “unconscious” and finally allowed me to tell him, after which he repeated it incredulously and laughed hysterically. He is also a math machine and prides himself on already knowing many of his times tables. Physically speaking, we have gone from weekly enemas to address his once-chronic constipation to never needing them. We still need to get him tested for food sensitivities again, but I have let him try some foods that he was previously sensitive to and he doesn’t have as many problems as he did before.
In terms of my own kefir journey, I have not been as consistent with it, but I always notice marked improvement in my bowel habits, overall health, and my outlook on life when I’m having kefir at least every other day. I recently got a hypothyroid diagnosis, so I am taking the consistency with the kefir routine much more seriously now.
Something else that I have tried, without the advice of a doctor, just because I thought it was worth a shot, are kefir whey implant enemas. My thought stemmed from the idea of fecal transplants and the idea that if someone’s probiotic bacteria load has been ravaged by antibiotics, it will affect the entire digestive tract, not just the upper part. I don’t trust anyone enough to use their poo for that (nor would I trust the medical community to select someone suitable), so I thought of the kefir. I decided that milk solids would inflame the lower digestive system, but maybe whey would be OK? (I’m sure many people have decided I am cuckoo at this point in the story.) I started on myself first and tried one enema per week for about two months. After just two rounds, I noticed increases in energy, started feeling hungry in the morning for the first time ever, and started losing weight without even trying. I also noticed that my wedding ring got looser and my stomach stuck out less, which indicated that I was retaining less water and was, therefore, less bloated. The effect on my bowels has been astounding and has even had positive effects on my mood! My husband was so amazed by my experience that he tried it and it has cured his decades-long chronic indigestion and has allowed him to start eating certain foods he could not eat before without stomach pain and never-ending gas! There are still some foods he cannot tolerate, but the changes have been noticeable. My hope is, since these are living probiotic bacteria, that one day we won’t have to do the enemas anymore at all. For now, we are happy to do them once per week and it has almost become a competition to see whose body can produce the most happy growls and gurgles.
I hope you rest easy every night knowing that you have changed innumerable lives, many of which will never be able to thank you directly, face-to-face. Thank you for sharing your story with the world and choosing such a worthwhile vocation – to share your knowledge, experience, and life-saving probiotic cultures. Together, we can heal our sick, tired, and sad society . . . one kefir grain at a time!”
Definitely worth trying and seeing how much better you feel!! Share your experiences with cultured foods.
THE FDA HAS PUBLISHED CONCLUSIVE PROOF ON THEIR WEBSITE THAT THE DTAP VACCINE CAN CAUSE AUTISM. ACCORDING TO THE FDA’S ONLINE BIOLOGICS BLOOD VACCINES DOCUMENT, A VACCINE MANUFACTURER ADMITS ON ITS PACKAGE INSERT THAT THEIR VACCINATION CAN CAUSE AUTISM AS ONE OF MANY ADVERSE REACTIONS.
These adverse events reported during post-approval use of Tripedia vaccine include idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, SIDS, anaphylactic reaction, cellulitis, autism, convulsion/grand mal convulsion, encephalopathy, hypotonia, neuropathy, somnolence and apnea. Events were included in this list because of the seriousness or frequency of reporting. Because these events are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequencies or to establish a causal relationship to components of Tripedia vaccine.
In this sense, it should be noted that:
Acellular Pertussis Vaccine Concentrates (For Further Manufacturing Use) are produced by The Research Foundation for Microbial Diseases of Osaka University (BIKEN), Osaka, Japan, under United States (US) license, and are combined with diphtheria and tetanus toxoids manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur Inc. Tripedia vaccine is filled, labeled, packaged, and released by Sanofi Pasteur Inc.
What’s in Tripedia that probably can interfere with brain chemistry and neurology?
According to the Tripedia’s package insert, some ingredients include: Bovine extract, formaldehyde used to inactivate microorganisms a couple of times, ammonium sulfate, aluminum potassium sulfate and two growth mediums: modified Mueller and Miller is one; the other is Stainer-Scholte medium.
What is the content of these two growth mediums?
Mueller and Miller medium, contains:
While Stainer-Scholte medium has the following ingredients:
Tris hydrochloride, tris base, glutamate (monosodium salt) [MSG], proline, salt, monopotassium phosphate, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, ferrous sulfate, ascorbic acid, niacin, glutathione.
The vaccine is formulated without preservatives, but contains a trace amount of thimerosal [(mercury derivative), (≤0.3 μg mercury/dose)] from the manufacturing process. Each 0.5 mL dose also contains, by assay, not more than 0.170 mg of aluminum and not more than 100 μg(0.02%) of residual formaldehyde. The vaccine contains gelatin and polysorbate 80 (Tween-80), which are used in the production of the pertussis concentrate.
“Probable cause” ingredients for adverse reactions include: casein, to which some children are allergic; MSG—an excitotoxin; thimerosal-ethyl mercury; aluminum; formaldehyde; gelatin; and polysorbate 80.
You might be wondering:
Why the doctors don’t say anything about the risk of DTaP Vaccine?
That is a question that many of us, still wondering! Maybe they just is just not convenient for them that we know about the risk of these vaccine
To take the vaccine debacle further, most of the mandated vaccines for infants and children, contain many of the above ingredients, which must be stopped from being injected into infants, toddlers, teens and even adults!
It’s time for Congress to rescind the “Get out of Jail Free” card for vaccine makers and stop the aggressive onslaught of the Autism Spectrum Disorder that is depriving children of a fulfilling life and ruining families emotionally, financially, and physically to the point of parents divorcing because of the stresses of ASD in a family.
It’s about time vaccines are publicly acknowledged by the feds and the media for all the health damages they have caused. Just check out the CDC’s VAERS reports and the vaccine damage payouts by the HHS/HRSA. According to a new report published on March 1, 2017, by the department of health and human services of the United States, about $ 3,363,282,409.21 have been paid for vaccine adverse reactions and deaths from 1989 to 2017 so far.
Parents, please do your own research. Know exactly what is being injected into your children!!!
I had written this post 5 years ago and still today this is very informative suggestion for those who have children or loved ones with sensory issues.
Time sure does fly by fast. I wish now that I had paid more attention to the pamphlets and brochures given to me by the therapist and specialists. In some ways, though, I don’t think my son was ready for activities. Now that he seems to be understanding more of what I am trying to teach him – I revisited the pamphlets and I wanted to share some activities that might help your child as well.
One component of autism is sensory problems. If you are NOT familiar with this term let me explain – most of us can process lots of outside stimuli such as: the radio being on, fans, dryers, pots and pans clanging, vacuums, etc. etc., for a child with autism all of this “stimulation” is like running your fingers down a chalkboard. Their nervous system is not able to process and interpret the noise therefore they will retreat and find ways of calming their “nerves”, it is similar to information overload. If you have been around children with sensory problems you may know that some of thes calming behaviors they obtain are not acceptable or tolerable. A child with autism may run around in circles, flap their hands, lick the furniture or other objects, bang their head into walls, and the list goes on.
As parents/loved ones how can we help our children to learn appropriate behaviors to process and internalize their environment? I will share some exercises that have been recommended to me by therapists as well as activities that we have used ourselves and noticed an improvement.
Some of the first things to consider when working with the sensory & vestibular system is that people with functioning nervous systems know where their limbs and bodies are in space at all times. If I were to ask you right now where your foot is you can tell me without hesitation. As my therapists explained to me that a child without sensory input may lose the ability to know where he/she is in space and time. “The vestibular system plays an important part in our ability to interact with the environment. It tells us how and where we are moving, if we are moving up, down, fast, slow, angular or circular. Now think about times when you have been dizzy, and the whole room seems to be spinning – imagine that you are trying to negotiate a crowded hallway. You are not able to accurately perceive the information about your own movement. The receptors for the vestibular system are located in the inner ear, and are stimulated by movement of the head and input form the other senses. This system tells us where our body is in space. It lets us know the quality of our movements, and tells us if it’s our body or the environment that is moving.”
Depending on your child, you will need to determine if you need to apply calming or alerting activities to his daily activities. For my child he has problems staying motivated and on task unless someone is working with him one-on-one, therefore, I try to institute alerting activities. It stands to reason then if your child is hyperactive and cannot sit still then you would need to instigate calming activities.
*Jumping on a trampoline or doing jumping jacks
*Hanging upside-down by the knees on the jungle gym
*Riding a scooter down a ramp
*Sitting and bouncing on a therapy (or any kind of plastic ball that is big enough to sit and bounce on; an exercise ball is great too)
*Standing and twirling in a circle
*Bending over with head between the knees
*Jumping on a trampoline or doing jumping jacks
*Swinging on a playground swing
*rocking in a rocking chair
*Sitting on a teeter–totter
*Sitting on a air cushion, therapy ball (or any plastic ball) to receive input during class activities
*take a break to do an errand for the teacher
*rolling slowly back and forth in a barrel
As I previously mentioned, I tried instituting some of these activities when my son was younger but did not notice any improvement. Please don’t be discouraged if your child is not ready for these exercises. The main point is to keep trying and find what works for your child!
Until next time! 🙂
I have been doing some interesting studies recently on the mind and how you can improve brain functions along with health issues. One neuro-scientist who teaches this concept is a communication pathologist with 23 years experience working with adults and children.
She has worked with children with ADHD, Autism and other behavior issues. It has piqued my interest as to whether this technique is possible for parents to apply with their children.
Has anyone else tried this technique with great success? Most of the results are finding out your triggers and then teaching yourself how to react differently. I have read that some people use a thermometer for retraining patients.
Here is one for stress reduction:http://dstress.com/temperature-training-biofeedback/
There are several options out there if you want to try these techniques at home, saving money but the real question is do they work? Would it be better to use a professional or has there been some success in overall behavior modification?
I have come to learn over the years that children in many cases tend to exhibit patterns and behaviors that one or more of their parents have. It is easier for adults to improve our reactions but when it comes to another person how can this be done efficiently?
Lately I been taking great interest in the study of changing your mindset from negative processing to spiritually uplifting scriptures and outlook on life. For many years I have had a pessimistic view and am now learning how all this plays a part in my health and functions in the body. We have been “fearfully and wonderfully made” from a loving Creator who knows how to keep us in tip top shape. Living in a world full of toxins, poisons and everything trying to make us sick and dying is it possible to change the learning of our loved ones who struggle with autism, ADHD etc.,?
Have you tried neurofeedback with your child and received good results?
What Can You Expect with Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is very effective at stabilizing and regulating brain function, and it helps the brain change itself without medication. Improvements from neurofeedback extend beyond the training period, yielding sustainable results. Once a new brain pattern has been learned, the patient tends not to forget it just like we don’t usually forget how to ride a bike once that skill has been well-learned.
With medication, and even supplements, the benefits usually disappear when the treatment is stopped. Plus, unlike medication, neurofeedback does not have any long-term side effects. As an alternative to medications, neurofeedback can often help people reduce or eliminate drugs for autism and ASD as their brains become more stable.
Neurofeedback has been shown to help in alleviating many of the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder. The first thing most parents notice is the calming effect of neurofeedback training. They consistently tell us that their children are able to manage their emotions better and do not get overwhelmed as easily.
Other changes parents observe include:
- Initiation of touch and contact
- Reduced emotional outbursts
- Increased tolerance to change
- Slower, clearer speech patterns
- Better responses to parental and teacher instructions
- Less ritualistic and more imaginative thought
- Decreased hyperactivity and impulsivity, heightened levels of focus
- Diminished anxiety, more stable and calm
- Better social skills and enhanced relationships
Why Hasn’t Our Doctor Recommended It?
It’s true that many professionals aren’t aware how effective neurofeedback is for autism. Most healthcare professionals are busy with their own practices and don’t necessarily learn about modalities outside their scope of practice.
We encourage you to keep reading. Some of these case studies may interest you and provide signs of hope and improvement as you learn how other kids, parents, and families have benefited from neurofeedback.
Here is an example of an occupational therapist who referred an autistic boy to neurofeedback, and reported “the benefits outweighed any other therapies we’ve done”:
6-year-old, Autistic Boy Using Neurofeedback
Interview with Darlene, his mom who was referred for neurofeedback by his Occupational Therapist. She reports “the benefits outweighed any other therapies we’ve done.” She reported that he’s become more relaxed, more verbal. He’s more social, interacting with others in ways she never thought he could do. And more conversational. Created by EEGinfo.
How Long Do We Do Neurofeedback and How Much Does It Cost?
Every person’s situation is different, so it’s difficult to give an exact amount of sessions your child will require. When you call our clinic, we’ll schedule an initial appointment. We recommend you come in for an initial consultation and start with a few sessions. After a handful of sessions, we can assess any changes you notice and discuss if neurofeedback is a good fit for your family.
Please share your results and experiences; good and bad on this topic. I am interested in learning if skills and academic studies improved with this techniques. If adults can change their mindset and receive better living from it, it seems that a child should be able to do the same.
It is amazing to me how much the human body can endure and still work tirelessly to keep you alive and functioning as best as it can!!
For those who might be interested! Please check out this alphabet book.
Authored by Gavriela Powers
Authored with Dr. Chad Costantino
A is for Autism is a fun, easy-to-read booklet designed to help adults and children understand the rewards and challenges of Autism. Take a rhyming adventure through the alphabet and discover an awareness into a special world!
List Price: $7.99
Though the bill only targets those with conditions such as Alzheimers and autism, critics say the bill’s passage will open a “pandora’s box” of invasive government surveillance.
Those in support of the legislation maintain that such programs could prevent tragedies where those with mental or cognitive disabilities wandered into dangerous circumstances. Yet, others have called these good intentions a “Trojan horse” for the expansion of a North American police state as the bill’s language could be very broadly interpreted.
“While this initiative may have noble intentions, ‘small and temporary’ programs in the name of safety and security often evolve into permanent and enlarged bureaucracies that infringe on the American people’s freedoms. That is exactly what we have here. A safety problem exists for people with Alzheimer’s, autism and other mental health issues, so the fix, we are told, is to have the Department of Justice, start a tracking program so we can use some device or method to track these individuals 24/7,” Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said in a floor speech opposing the bill.
Gohmert’s assessment is spot-on. Giving local police the authority to decide who is micro-chipped and who is not based on their mental soundness is a recipe for disaster. Though the bill specifically mentions those with Alzheimer and autism, how long before these tracking programs are extended to those with ADHD and Bipolar disorder among other officially recognized disorders. Even the dislike of authority is considered a mental disorder known as “Oppositional Defiant Disorder,” which could also warrant micro-chipping in the future. If these programs expand unchecked, how long will it be before all Americans are told that mass microchipping is necessary so that law enforcement and the government can better “protect” them? Many Americans have been content to trade their liberties for increased “security” in the post-9/11 world, particularly when the state uses these talking points. Yet, as Benjamin Franklin once said, “those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”
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Susan* bought her 6-year-old son John an iPad when he was in first grade. “I thought, ‘Why not let him get a jump on things?’ ” she told me during a therapy session. John’s school had begun using the devices with younger and younger grades — and his technology teacher had raved about their educational benefits — so Susan wanted to do what was best for her sandy-haired boy who loved reading and playing baseball.
She started letting John play different educational games on his iPad. Eventually, he discovered Minecraft, which the technology teacher assured her was “just like electronic Lego.” Remembering how much fun she had as a child building and playing with the interlocking plastic blocks, Susan let her son Minecraft his afternoons away.
At first, Susan was quite pleased. John seemed engaged in creative play as he explored the cube-world of the game. She did notice that the game wasn’t quite like the Legos that she remembered — after all, she didn’t have to kill animals and find rare minerals to survive and get to the next level with her beloved old game. But John did seem to really like playing and the school even had a Minecraft club, so how bad could it be?
Still, Susan couldn’t deny she was seeing changes in John. He started getting more and more focused on his game and losing interest in baseball and reading while refusing to do his chores. Some mornings he would wake up and tell her that he could see the cube shapes in his dreams.
Although that concerned her, she thought her son might just be exhibiting an active imagination. As his behavior continued to deteriorate, she tried to take the game away but John threw temper tantrums. His outbursts were so severe that she gave in, still rationalizing to herself over and over again that “it’s educational.”
Then, one night, she realized that something was seriously wrong.
“I walked into his room to check on him. He was supposed to be sleeping — and I was just so frightened…”
We now know that those iPads, smartphones and Xboxes are a form of digital drug.
She found him sitting up in his bed staring wide-eyed, his bloodshot eyes looking into the distance as his glowing iPad lay next to him. He seemed to be in a trance. Beside herself with panic, Susan had to shake the boy repeatedly to snap him out of it. Distraught, she could not understand how her once-healthy and happy little boy had become so addicted to the game that he wound up in a catatonic stupor.
There’s a reason that the most tech-cautious parents are tech designers and engineers. Steve Jobs was a notoriously low-tech parent. Silicon Valley tech executives and engineers enroll their kids in no-tech Waldorf Schools. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page went to no-tech Montessori Schools, as did Amazon creator Jeff Bezos and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
Many parents intuitively understand that ubiquitous glowing screens are having a negative effect on kids. We see the aggressive temper tantrums when the devices are taken away and the wandering attention spans when children are not perpetually stimulated by their hyper-arousing devices. Worse, we see children who become bored, apathetic, uninteresting and uninterested when not plugged in.
But it’s even worse than we think.
We now know that those iPads, smartphones and Xboxes are a form of digital drug. Recent brain imaging research is showing that they affect the brain’s frontal cortex — which controls executive functioning, including impulse control — in exactly the same way that cocaine does. Technology is so hyper-arousing that it raises dopamine levels — the feel-good neurotransmitter most involved in the addiction dynamic — as much as sex.
This addictive effect is why Dr. Peter Whybrow, director of neuroscience at UCLA, calls screens “electronic cocaine” and Chinese researchers call them “digital heroin.” In fact, Dr. Andrew Doan, the head of addiction research for the Pentagon and the US Navy — who has been researching video game addiction — calls video games and screen technologies “digital pharmakeia” (Greek for drug).
That’s right — your kid’s brain on Minecraft looks like a brain on drugs. No wonder we have a hard time peeling kids from their screens and find our little ones agitated when their screen time is interrupted. In addition, hundreds of clinical studies show that screens increase depression, anxiety and aggression and can even lead to psychotic-like features where the video gamer loses touch with reality.
In my clinical work with over 1,000 teens over the past 15 years, I have found the old axiom of “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” to be especially true when it comes to tech addiction. Once a kid has crossed the line into true tech addiction, treatment can be very difficult. Indeed, I have found it easier to treat heroin and crystal meth addicts than lost-in-the-matrix video gamers or Facebook-dependent social media addicts.
That’s right — your kid’s brain on Minecraft looks like a brain on drugs.
According to a 2013 Policy Statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 8- to 10 year-olds spend 8 hours a day with various digital media while teenagers spend 11 hours in front of screens. One in three kids are using tablets or smartphones before they can talk. Meanwhile, the handbook of “Internet Addiction” by Dr. Kimberly Young states that 18 percent of college-age internet users in the US suffer from tech addiction.
Once a person crosses over the line into full-blown addiction — drug, digital or otherwise — they need to detox before any other kind of therapy can have any chance of being effective. With tech, that means a full digital detox — no computers, no smartphones, no tablets. The extreme digital detox even eliminates television. The prescribed amount of time is four to six weeks; that’s the amount of time that is usually required for a hyper-aroused nervous system to reset itself. But that’s no easy task in our current tech-filled society where screens are ubiquitous. A person can live without drugs or alcohol; with tech addiction, digital temptations are everywhere.
So how do we keep our children from crossing this line? It’s not easy.
The key is to prevent your 4-, 5- or 8-year-old from getting hooked on screens to begin with. That means Lego instead of Minecraft; books instead of iPads; nature and sports instead of TV. If you have to, demand that your child’s school not give them a tablet or Chromebook until they are at least 10 years old (others recommend 12).
Have honest discussions with your child about why you are limiting their screen access. Eat dinner with your children without any electronic devices at the table — just as Steve Jobs used to have tech-free dinners with his kids. Don’t fall victim to “Distracted Parent Syndrome” — as we know from Social Learning Theory, “Monkey see, monkey do.”
When I speak to my 9-year-old twin boys, I have honest conversations with them about why we don’t want them having tablets or playing video games. I explain to them that some kids like playing with their devices so much, they have a hard time stopping or controlling how much they play. I’ve helped them to understand that if they get caught up with screens and Minecraft like some of their friends have, other parts of their lives may suffer: They may not want to play baseball as much; not read books as often; be less interested in science and nature projects; become more disconnected from their real-world friends. Amazingly, they don’t need much convincing as they’ve seen first-hand the changes that some of their little friends have undergone as a result of their excessive screen time.
Developmental psychologists understand that children’s healthy development involves social interaction, creative imaginative play and an engagement with the real, natural world. Unfortunately, the immersive and addictive world of screens dampens and stunts those developmental processes.
We also know that kids are more prone to addictive escape if they feel alone, alienated, purposeless and bored. Thus the solution is often to help kids to connect to meaningful real-life experiences and flesh-and-blood relationships. The engaged child tethered to creative activities and connected to his or her family is less likely to escape into the digital fantasy world. Yet even if a child has the best and most loving support, he or she could fall into the Matrix once they engage with hypnotic screens and experience their addicting effect. After all, about one in 10 people are predisposed towards addictive tendencies.
In the end, my client Susan removed John’s tablet, but recovery was an uphill battle with many bumps and setbacks along the way.
Four years later, after much support and reinforcement, John is doing much better today. He has learned to use a desktop computer in a healthier way, and has gotten some sense of balance back in his life: He’s playing on a baseball team and has several close friends in his middle school. But his mother is still vigilant and remains a positive and proactive force with his tech usage because, as with any addiction, relapse can sneak up in moments of weakness. Making sure that he has healthy outlets, no computer in his bedroom and a nightly tech-free dinner at the dinner table are all part of the solution.
*Patients’ names have been changed.
Dr. Nicholas Kardaras is executive director of The Dunes East Hampton, one of the country’s top rehabs and a former clinical professor at Stony Brook Medicine. His book “Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids — and How to Break the Trance” (St. Martin’s) is out now.