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Does Neurofeedback Work to Treat Autism, ADHD?

Neurofeedback as Treatment for Autism and ADHD

This is not a proven technique by any means.  Here is the full article by Katherine Ellison of the New York Times, Neurofeedback Gains Popularity and Lab Attention.  Has anyone tried this as a treatment for Autism or ADHD?  What do you think of this?

Here are some key paragraphs:

  • The procedure is controversial, expensive and time-consuming. An average course of treatment, with at least 30 sessions, can cost $3,000 or more, and few health insurers will pay for it. Still, it appears to be growing in popularity.
  • The National Institute of Mental Health recently sponsored its first study of neurofeedback for A.D.H.D.: a randomized, controlled trial of 36 subjects. (NOTE THAT IT’S A VERY SMALL TEST POOL!)
  • The results are to be announced Oct. 26 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
  • Dr. Arnold said that if the results bore out that neurofeedback was making the difference, he would seek financing for a broader study, with as many as 100 subjects.
  • John Kounios, a professor of psychology at Drexel University, published a small study in 2007 suggesting that the treatment speeded cognitive processing in elderly people. “There’s no question that neurofeedback works, that people can change brain activity,” he said. “The big questions we still haven’t answered are precisely how it works and how it can be harnessed to treat disorders.”
  • Dr. Barkley cautioned that he had yet to see credible evidence confirming claims that such benefits can be long lasting, much less permanent.
  • And another mainstream expert is much more disapproving. William E. Pelham Jr., Director of the Center for Children and Families at Florida International University, called neurofeedback “crackpot charlatanism.” He warned that exaggerated claims for it might lead parents to favor it over proven options like behavioral therapy and medication.
  • Dr. Norman Doidge, a psychiatrist at the Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research at Columbia and the author of “The Brain That Changes Itself” (Viking, 2007), said he considered neurofeedback “a powerful stabilizer of the brain.” Practitioners make even more enthusiastic claims. Robert Coben, a neuropsychologist in Massapequa Park, N.Y., said he had treated more than 1,000 autistic children over the past seven years and had conducted a clinical study, finding striking reductions in symptoms, as reported by parents.
  • The Food and Drug Administration regulates all biofeedback equipment as medical devices. The only approved use, however, is for “relaxation.”
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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom

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