Autism and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Autism Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Some have described autism as an epidemic. The rate of autism has gone from less than 1 in 200 to about 1 in 100 in the last decade. Unfortunately, we don’t know yet what causes autism. While there are many theories, some debunked and some still being studied, right now the cause of autism remains a mystery.

Since we cannot know what causes autism, we cannot prevent it. Treating autism is the main focus for parents of autistic children while research continues on the causes of autism.

Autism is usually noted early in a child’s life. The typical age of regression is as early as 18 months, when an autistic child may start meeting milestones on a timeline different than that of a neurotypical child. Common early signs of autism include little or no speech, a lack of eye contact, little physical affection, and an obsession or fixation with certain objects or topics.

For instance, at 18 months a child should be able to speak  12 or more words clearly, including Mama, Dada, sleep, and other words that they hear on a regular basis. However, an autistic child may not speak at all—s/he may only verbalize, grunt, or speak random syllables. Some autistic children may not verbalize or make any noises.

Autism Hyperbaric Chamber

A lack of eye contact and physical affection are both very common signs of autism in children. From a very young age—two months or so—most babies begin making and holding eye contact on a regular basis. However, autistic children often do not make eye contact; if they do, they may not hold it for more than a second or two. This is related to the lack of physical affection that many autistic children display. Touching other people is often a sensory issue for autistic children. The textures, warmth, and movement from another person during a hug can be too much for an autistic child to take in and process—so they just avoid it entirely.

There are a variety of treatments for autism that aim to reduce the signs of autism. These treatments include occupational therapy, exposure therapy, line therapy, diet changes, and hyperbaric oxygen treatment.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) work by delivering high-pressure oxygen to the body and brain. The autistic child lies or sits down in a hyperbaric chamber for the prescribed amount of time. The oxygen, which is more concentrated and therapeutic than anything you can get outside of this treatment, helps the body’s cells to heal and repair damage in the brain.

More pressure and/or more oxygen is not always better; the brain seems to respond best between 1.3 and 1.5 atmospheres . Patients can go to a clinic that specializes in hyperbaric oxygen treatment, rent a hyperbaric chamber, or purchase a hyperbaric chamber. The length and amount of sessions will vary on each child’s autism diagnosis. If a child is on the mild end of the spectrum, they may need fewer or shorter sessions. A child on the lower-functioning end of the spectrum may need longer, more, and ongoing hyperbaric sessions.

After Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, many autistic children present fewer or milder autistic symptoms, including a decrease in “stimming”,a repetitive physical movement that stimulates one or more of the senses, an increase in physical affection, and an increase in verbal abilities.