Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Effective Autism Treatment Methods Without Drugs

Since 1980, the Drake Institute has successfully treated Autism spectrum disorders and other conditions with a biofeedback and neurofeedback-centered non-drug treatment program. Having helped reduce or eliminate symptoms for many disorders in thousands of patients, we’ve acquired an unparalleled level of knowledge and clinical expertise.

In 2013 the National Geographic Channel recognized the Drake Institute pioneering expertise in the treatment of Autism spectrum disorder by selecting  Dr.David Velkoff, the medical director of the Drake Institute, to be the medical consultant for their special documentary on Autism.

Our non-drug treatment programs enable patients to reduce not only the core symptoms of Autism spectrum disorder but also frequently co-occurring symptoms of ADHD, anxiety, depression, auditory/language processing disorders, and learning disorders.

We have provided effective treatment to over 1,000 patients on the Autism spectrum, and as a medical clinic we are able to assess and treat each patient with a more comprehensive level of knowledge and experience. Our treatment process has integrated the practices of medicine, psychology, family therapy and neuropsychology along with neurosciences and computer sciences to provide a uniquely effective treatment for Autism spectrum disorder without drugs and their side effects.

As a medical clinic, we could prescribe medications for the disorders that we help treat, but we’ve chosen not to because our non-drug treatment program offers excellent clinical effectiveness, safety and long-term improvement in quality of life and productivity of our patients without the dependence on drugs and their side effects.

Drawing from our many years of success with clinical ADD & ADHD patients, we developed a highly effective non-drug treatment program for Autism spectrum disorder that utilizes brain map-guided neurofeedback therapy. For many years, our treatment process of utilizing brain imaging with quantitative EEG brain mapping technology has provided breakthroughs for over 1,000 Autism spectrum disorder patients.

Our non-drug Autism treatment protocol is based on the brain map findings for each individual patient. Each of our autistic patients receives an individualized neurofeedback protocol derived from his or her brain map results. In addition, our clinical staff of therapists provide much-needed support for our patient’s parents to help facilitate integrating the Autistic child’s improvements into his or her everyday life.

What is Autism?

Autism or Autism spectrum disorders are neurodevelopmental disorders of brain development. In May 2013, Autism spectrum disorders were redefined or classified under a broad category called Autism spectrum disorder that included the previous diagnoses of Autism, Asperger's disorder, PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder not otherwise specified), and childhood disintegration disorder.

Autism spectrum disorder occurs much more frequently in boys than in girls. Symptoms vary enormously from child to child, ranging from mild to severe. Differentiating between low functioning Autism and high functioning Autism is generally based on the child’s IQ. It is now estimated by the CDC that 1 in 68 children in the United States has an Autism spectrum disorder.

Signs and Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder:

  • Impaired Social Interaction
  • Impaired Communication (verbal and nonverbal)
  • Restricted Interests
  • Repetitive Behaviors

Some children on the Autism spectrum may show a delay in development during their first two years, while other children may seem to be developing normally but then go through a regression in their first 2-3 years, leading to an Autism spectrum disorder. Regression in development can occur in multiple areas, but most frequently occurs in language function. In less severe cases, sometimes symptoms may not appear until later in life, when demands overwhelm or surpass the child's capacities due to the neurodevelopmental deficit.

Because multiple areas and functional systems in the brain can be affected, the autistic patient can have overlapping symptoms with other disorders as well. Many autistic children have symptoms of sensory sensitivities (to sound, light, texture, tastes). Frequently, autistic children also exhibit varying degrees of ADHD symptoms, like poor focus, hyperactivity and impulsivity, though their primary diagnosis is autism.

In addition, those with Autism spectrum disorder can have comorbid or co-occurring learning disorders, auditory/language processing deficits, anxiety, and/or depression. Some children on the Autism spectrum may also have sleep difficulties, and gastrointestinal or digestive problems.

Diagnosis is based on a cluster of behavioral symptoms, although the symptoms are neurologically based. The diagnosis of Autism spectrum disorder itself does not provide answers to the origin of the symptoms. Only analyzing brain functioning can provide those answers. Early intervention can significantly improve the trajectory of the child's development. The Drake Institute assesses for treating children on the Spectrum at 4 and a half years old.

Brain Mapping – Improving Diagnosis & Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder without Drugs

Using modern advances in the neurosciences, the Drake Institute of Behavioral Medicine utilizes qEEG brain mapping to better pinpoint which networks or neural circuits in the brain are misfiring or malfunctioning thus causing or contributing to autistic symptoms.

Though there is no known "Autism cure", the more information the physician has access to about the origin of the autistic patient’s symptoms, the more effectively autism treatments can be developed to reduce those symptoms.

There are various autism treatment methods, and with the Drake Institute's integration of the specialties of medicine, psychology, family therapy and the neurosciences, we have found that brain map guided neurofeedback produces the fastest improvement in multiple symptoms.

It is the most direct treatment to improve the dysregulation in brain functioning linked to symptoms of patients on the Autism spectrum. EEG biofeedback (neurofeedback) enables the autistic patient to improve his/her brain’s areas or networks and neural circuitry that are misfiring. This results in a reduction of symptoms.

We do not classify our treatment as an "alternative treatment for Autism" but rather as a primary treatment of Autism spectrum disorder. Other treatments such as ABA, OT, speech and language therapy, and social skill therapy can work even easier and more efficiently once the child has improved his/her brain functioning with brain map guided neurofeedback as the child's brain functioning is now more receptive to other therapies.

For example, the right posterior area of the brain is involved in experiencing and interpreting social emotional information. It is involved in understanding nonverbal cues and nonverbal information. If this region is misfiring, the child’s ability to pick up on and understand other people’s facial expressions, body language, social nuances and social interactions may be compromised. They will be limited in understanding metaphors, social subtleties, and another person's point of view.

With severe deficits, they may not be aware of how their words or behavior impacts on others, so they may say things impulsively, being brutally honest in ways that could be hurtful to another, yet they have no clue they are hurting someone's feelings.

As an example, an autistic child might see an overweight person enter their elevator, leading the child to say: “There is no room in here for this fat person.” What the child has said may be true, but he or she is completely unaware of the painful impact of their words on this person, or of the embarrassment that it causes for the child’s mother.

Sometimes, children with an Autism spectrum disorder talk nonstop about a topic of special interest to them, and are completely uninterested in what the other person has to say. In this case, the right posterior part of their brain is often “shutdown, asleep,” and/or dysregulated which limits their capacity for taking in social and emotional information essential for developing and maintaining relationships. In some cases, even if language does develop, the autistic child may still have limited reciprocal or back and forth conversations with others.

These deficits interfere with being able to develop normal social relationships with peers. Autistic children haven’t chosen to be socially distant; this social distance is simply a byproduct of the systems in their brain being shutdown or overstimulated and/or disconnected. This brain dysregulation may be the result of too many slow brainwaves causing under functioning of the brain, or of too many fast brainwaves causing overstimulation and chaos or inadequate functional connections between brain networks, but the good news is that this problem can be treated. After creating a brain map of the autistic child’s brain and identifying the source of their symptoms, we are able to significantly improve them via brainEEG biofeedback (neurofeedback) therapy.

Without first performing the brain map, a clinician would have no idea what is actually happening in the autistic child’s brain, and would thus have a difficult time maximizing treatment results, but with the brain map, treatment becomes much more effective.

You can think of a brain map for an autistic patient as being similar to an EKG (electrocardiogram) done on a heart patient with chest pain. These tools diagnose the source of the problem, making it evident to the clinician, and allowing for a more effective treatment protocol to be developed.

What Does Brain Mapping Show?

  • Social communication deficits are usually correlated with abnormalities in the right regions of the brain.
  • Autistic patients who are emotionally over-reactive or who have excessive tantrums will frequently show abnormal functioning in the frontal and right temporal lobes.
  • The language deficits show up in the left areas of the brain.
  • Emotional expressive deficits commonly show up on the right frontal region.

Brain map findings are correlated with the clinical symptoms and evaluation to determine the optimal EEG biofeedback (neurofeedback) protocols for each specific patient.

We use the same treatment method for Autism as we use for ADD & ADHD: EEG Biofeedback (neurofeedback). It may sound strange to use the same technology to treat such different disorders, but it makes more sense once you realize that these disorders are generated by abnormal brain functioning which can be significantly improved via Neurofeedback therapy, leading to life-changing results.

Our treatment typically leads to reduction of negative symptoms, improved abilities and measurable qualify of life improvements: emotionally, behaviorally, communication, cognitively, academically, and socially.

At the Drake Institute, we have even had exceptional cases where patients who completed treatment no longer met criteria for a diagnosis of Autism spectrum disorder.

To get the help your loved one needs, call now to schedule a screening consultation at no charge - 800-700-4233.

Client Testimonials

"My son is a much happier, more confident easier going child. His repetitive behavior is non -existent, his conversations are no longer one way and he doesn’t fall apart when things don’t go his way. He is more interested in playing with friends. I can tell other kids enjoy playing with him. He has had great success with school this year both academically and socially. We are very pleased with our results at the Drake Institute." - Mindy P., Mother of autistic son

"Thomas has achieved vast improvement in communications and social interactions. He is so much more aware of what goes on around him. His mind is clearer. My son likes going to The Drake Institute. The staff has kept me informed of program changes and progress being made. I am very satisfied with the services provided by the Drake institute." - Father of autistic son

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Dr. David Velkoff our Medical Director and co-founder, supervises all evaluation procedures and treatment programs. Dr. Velkoff earned his Masters degree in Psychology from the California State University at Los Angeles in 1975, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta in 1976. Dr. Velkoff completed his postgraduate work on Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of California Medical Center at Irvine. He then shifted his specialty to Behavioral Medicine and underwent training at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas to learn biofeedback technology. In 1980, he co-founded the Drake Institute of Behavioral Medicine.


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