Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is said to be a “developmental disorder” because symptoms generally appear in the first two years of life. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a guide created by the American Psychiatric Association used to diagnose mental disorders, people with ASD have:
Difficulty with communication and interaction with other people.
Restricted interests and repetitive behaviors.
Symptoms that hurt the person’s ability to function properly in school, work, and other areas of life.
Autism is known as a “spectrum” disorder because there is wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms people experience. ASD occurs in all ethnic, racial, and economic groups. Although ASD can be a lifelong disorder, treatments and services can improve a person’s symptoms and ability to function. (“NIMH » Autism Spectrum Disorder,” Last Revised - March 2018) Treatment for ASD is uniquely tailored to each child or adult meaning that each, each intervention should be planned to address the individual’s specific needs.
Intervention can involve behavioral treatments, medicines or both. Many persons with autism have additional medical conditions such as sleep disturbance, seizures, and gastrointestinal (GI) distress. Addressing these conditions can improve attention, learning and related behaviors. (Learn more about Treatment of Autism’s Core Symptoms and Treatment of Associated Medical Conditions.)
Early intensive behavioral intervention involves a child's entire family, working closely with a team of professionals. In some early intervention programs, therapists come into the home to deliver services. This can include parent training with the parent leading therapy sessions under the supervision of the therapist. Other programs deliver therapy in a specialized center, classroom or preschool. (“How Is Autism Treated?,” 2012)
A novel treatment approach referred to as Reconsolidation Enhancement by Stimulation of Emotional Triggers (RESET Therapy), was utilized with a six-year-old boy (Ty) whose mounting anxiety and depression interfered with his adjustment to his new kindergarten setting. The rationale behind the decision to utilize this intervention was that it was a non-verbally based treatment that elicited calmness at a subconscious level through the use of binaural sound. The hypothesis was that if Ty’s fear reaction to new circumstances could be checked, his innate curiosity would permit him to adjust to his new circumstances.
Case Study – ‘His Own Little World’
Ty is a bright boy who had been in a public pre-school and reportedly had progressed normally. There had been no prior suggestion that Ty was on the Autism Spectrum (ASD) scale. This youngster eagerly looked forward to the first day of kindergarten, but following this monumental day, Ty told his parents that he did not want to go back to school. Consequently, this child was seen for psychotherapy after about three weeks of continued school distress. His teacher reported that Ty seemed to be “in his own little world” and would not interact with other children or respond to her. He was not learning!
Due to the severity of the child’s anxiety and depressed mood, he was placed in the one-half day homebound program and referred for a brief psychological evaluation. Diagnostically, he easily met criteria for ASD and ADHD. A teacher consequently worked with him at his home after school twice weekly, as he could handle the kindergarten setting only until after lunch. His involvement in therapy was designed to improve socialization abilities as well as to stay on task and follow instructions. He attended a socialization program for children on the Autism Spectrum on a weekly basis. Following 5-months of intervention, Ty had not shown significant progress and appeared more anxious and depressed. Even more crucial, he was not learning in the classroom! He refused to respond to his teacher, and he would not play with the other children. The school administrator questioned whether he could continue to remain in the classroom.
Due to his lack of progress, the use of an experimental treatment was discussed with his mother. The intervention referred to as RESET Therapy was described which utilized a bio-acoustical utilization device (BAUD). I had previously and successfully used this intervention with adults, teens, and children who had PTSD, anxiety disorders, and depression. Based on my prior success, I asked Ty’s mother, “Why not try to use this treatment to calm Ty’s fiery brain?” Ty’s desperate mother wholeheartedly agreed to the suggestion. A session was scheduled immediately after his next school experience and then again, the following morning before school.
Consequent to his first RESET treatment, his teacher noticed an immediate and major differe