The Efficacy of Selected Biofeedback Techniques in Mitigating Symptoms Associated With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Berger, Michael J.
June 2007
Biofeedback;Summer2007, Vol. 35 Issue 2, p62
Academic Journal
The present award-winning high school student paper reviews the history of positive outcomes for biofeedback/neurofeedback interventions with many common disorders, especially attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, epilepsy, and seizures, and discusses one report suggesting the potential of biofeedback for autism spectrum disorders. The student researcher recruited an adolescent male with autism spectrum disorder and obtained a pretraining score on a parent questionnaire, the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC), measuring four categories of autism-related behaviors. The student researcher developed an innovative general biofeedback treatment regimen, designed to guide the trainee to relax and self-soothe. The regimen included self-ratings of calmness on a 10-point Likert-type scale, temperature training with biodots, breath training with a home training device, additional temperature training with a handheld digital thermometer, use of a biofeedback game using electrodermal and heart rate measures, and a final meditation exercise. The adolescent completed 18 sessions in 6 weeks and showed significant improvement in self-reported calm, increased hand temperature with stress dots, a slowing in breath rate, hand warming using the digital thermometer, improvements in skin conductance, and a lowering of heart rate into the relaxation range. Most significantly, the final parent rating on the ATEC showed measurable improvement on sensory/cognitive awareness and health/physical behavior and dramatic improvement in sociability, a core feature of autism spectrum disorders. This positive outcome supports the need for additional research applying biofeedback to autism spectrum disorders.


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