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TMS for Autism Spectrum Disorder

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What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive procedure that uses powerful, focused magnetic fields to stimulate areas of the brain. TMS is sometimes used as a treatment for depression, but it is not FDA-approved for this purpose. TMS was first investigated as a treatment for depression in the 1980s. Researchers found that when they placed a powerful magnet near the heads of depressed patients, it produced a temporary antidepressant effect. In subsequent decades, TMS was refined into a medical treatment that is recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as an effective way to treat moderate-to-severe major depressive disorder (MDD), which is common among people on the autism spectrum.

What is autism?

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder. It is characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, and sensory processing. It is also a spectrum disorder, meaning that the severity of these symptoms can vary from person to person. Some individuals may be very mildly affected, barely meeting the criteria for an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis. Others may find that the challenges are so significant that they are unable to live independently. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with ASD have challenges with social skills, verbal and nonverbal communication, and sometimes emotional reactions. They may also engage in repetitive behaviors or have unusual interests. People with ASD are different from one another and are diagnosed based on the combination of their symptoms.

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What is the difference between Autism and Aspergers?

Autism and Aspergers are both on the autism spectrum. And while they share many core autism symptoms, they are often differentiated by the severity of the condition. People with Aspergers are often high functioning individuals who are able to lead fairly normal lives. Those with Autism, on the other hand, often have a much more difficult time living independently. Aspergers is now referred to as being on the high functioning end of the Autism spectrum. This has caused some controversy and confusion in the medical community as well as among families affected by ASD. But professionals in the field agree that a person with high-functioning autism (HFA) might have milder symptoms than someone with low-functioning autism (LFA).

Treatments for Autism

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for autism. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t treatments that can help your child thrive. There are numerous therapies, drugs, and treatment options that can improve the lives of autistic individuals.

  • ABA therapy – ABA (or applied Behavioral Analysis) therapy is a highly effective treatment for autism. It helps children understand what they are feeling, learn new skills, and build relationships.
  • Speech and language therapy – This helps autistic children learn to communicate and understand language.
  • Occupational therapy – This is helpful for children who experience sensory issues.
  • Special diets – There are no special diets that have been proven to help autistic individuals. But some parents report that their children benefit from a gluten-free or casein-free diet.
  • Medication – Some children respond well to certain medications.
  • Special schools or programs – Some autistic children do better in special schools or programs designed to meet their needs.
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation – Transcranial magnetic stimulation has shown great promise in treating autism spectrum disorders as well as the depressive symptoms that are commonly co-occurring.

TMS for Autism: How it Works

The goal of TMS for autism is to lessen the symptoms of the disorder. Autism symptoms potentially alleviated by this noninvasive brain stimulation therapy include:

  • Anxiety, aggression, and tantrums
  • Poor communication skills
  • Lack of socialization
  • Hyper-focus on certain repetitive behaviors or items
When repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation is used to help treat these autistic symptoms, the magnetic stimulation is targeted at the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the medial prefrontal cortex. These brain regions are involved in processing language, regulating emotions, and controlling attention. In short, TMS for autism spectrum disorder works by making it easier for the brain to process the information that’s most relevant and important to you.

Why Is TMS so Effective?

TMS for autism has been shown to be a highly effective treatment. In fact, studies have shown that TMS for autism is very effective at reducing symptoms of autism spectrum disorders and improving quality of life for children and adults with autism. The reason that TMS is so effective at treating autism is that it directly targets the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that needs modulation. By contrast, medications like antidepressants might affect many parts of the brain indirectly and not have as strong an effect on that specific area.

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Happy autism boy during therapy with school counselor, learning and having fun together. Autism awareness concept

How TMS Helps Children with ASD

As a parent, the first time you hear your child is on the autism spectrum can feel like a punch in the gut. You so badly want to make it better for them. But how?

As we’ve discussed, the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that is targeted when undergoing TMS for autism spectrum disorder. This part of the brain is involved in the following:
  • Mood regulation and temper control
  • Attention and concentration
  • Ability to understand and communicate with others
  • Ability to remember things
  • Ability to use words appropriately
In other words, the benefits of TMS for autism are wide-ranging. This treatment is not just about increasing attention or improving social skills. It also helps children with ASD, or autism spectrum disorder, manage their emotions, remember things better, and use language more appropriately.

Side Effects of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

As with any medical treatment, there are possible side effects when undergoing TMS. However, these side effects are generally mild and short-lived. Side effects may include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

Some patients also experience temporary tingling, itching, burning, or shooting pain in their scalp. These side effects are generally mild and go away as the treatment continues. They may be reduced by taking painkillers, anti-nausea medication, and/or anti-anxiety medication.

TMS therapy is an FDA-approved treatment.

It is widely covered by many health insurance plans.

Should You Try Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Autism?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation for autism is an effective treatment that has the potential to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life for children and adults with autism. The effectiveness and safety of this treatment have been demonstrated in numerous studies. Although it’s important to note that TMS can’t cure autism, it can make it easier for a person with ASD to live with it. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, then TMS might be worth considering. This treatment is relatively easy to undergo and has minimal side effects. It may also be covered by insurance, depending on the specifics of your plan. If you’re interested in trying TMS, talk to your doctor. He or she can let you know if it’s right for you.

Is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Painless?

Unlike many other treatments for autism, TMS is completely painless. Since it’s an electromagnetic procedure, the magnetic pulses are so weak that they don’t even cause any tingling or warmth. Most patients even report that they fall asleep while the machine is running. When researching TMS, make sure to ask your doctor about any potential side effects. While the procedure is completely safe, there are a few rare risks and side effects that you should be aware of. If you have a history of seizures, you’ll probably not be a good candidate for TMS. Some patients also experience headaches after treatment, but this can often be treated with over-the-counter painkillers.

Does Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Work with Medication?

TMS is often used to treat patients who have tried a variety of medications without success. Some patients with autism, however, do not respond to medication. In these cases, TMS could potentially be a lifesaver, as it can be administered without taking any drugs. However, if you are currently taking medication for your autism, there’s no need to worry that TMS will replace or negate the effects of your current treatment. In fact, many patients see their medications work better after receiving TMS due to the increase in serotonin levels. In some cases, TMS can be used as an alternative to medication. For example, if a patient is having unpleasant side effects from a particular medication, TMS could be used to achieve similar results without those negative side effects.

Are There Long-Term Side Effects of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?

In most cases, the only side effects you’ll experience from TMS are brief headaches. However, there is potential for long-term side effects, such as the development of seizures. If you have a history of seizures, you may want to consider other treatment options. In addition, there are some concerns that TMS may cause long-term changes in the brain, even if the benefits wear off. It’s important to keep in mind that TMS is a treatment, not a cure. It’s unlikely, however, that these changes will have any significant impact on your day-to-day life, since they’re unlikely to be as significant as the effects of autism.

How Quickly Does Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Show Results on Autism Spectrum Disorders?

It’s nearly impossible to estimate how long it will take to see results after beginning TMS treatment. Since every patient is unique and responds differently, there’s no way to predict when you’ll start to see results. It’s important to keep in mind that you’re not going to be cured after one session. However, most patients start to see positive changes after about 5-10 sessions. Most doctors recommend a course of 10-20 sessions, with the average course lasting about 6 weeks. Unlike other treatment methods, you can expect to see results almost immediately after the first treatment.

Strategies for helping an Autistic Child

The road ahead is often difficult for individuals on the autism spectrum disorder and their families. But with the proper support and guidance, everyone can thrive. The most important thing you can do for your child is to be patient and loving. And to remember that each day can be a new beginning. Keep in mind that every person with Autism is different. Some people may have more difficulty than others. While every person can achieve success, sometimes it takes a bit longer. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, reach out to an expert. Early intervention is the best way to ensure that your child is thriving.

  • Create a happy and consistent environment – Autistic children thrive when they know what to expect. A consistent routine is essential for helping your child feel safe and secure.
  • Establish healthy sleep and eating habits – This can be a challenge for many parents, but it is crucial for improving the symptoms of Autism.
  • Teach them non-verbal communication – This can help when verbal communication isn’t possible.
  • Focus on positive reinforcement – Instead of punishing your child for bad behavior, focus on rewarding them for the good ones. This will improve their self-esteem.
  • Be patient – This isn’t something that will improve overnight. It takes time, effort, and a lot of love.
  • Be mindful of your child’s feelings – This is an important part of building a healthy relationship. Taking the time to understand what they are feeling will pay off in the long run.
  • Look out for signs of anxiety – Anxiety is a very common symptom that people with autism spectrum disorders experience. Look out for signs of your child feeling anxious or overstimulated.
  • Look out for signs of depression – Many autistic individuals also suffer from severe depression. Take the time to notice if your child shows signs of depression.
  • Take care of yourself – This is important for you as a parent. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of your child.
  • Educate others – There will be times when you need a little help. It is crucial that you educate those around you about your child’s needs.

Can You Treat Both Autism Spectrum Disorder and Comorbid Conditions with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)?

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for autism is a non-invasive treatment that uses electromagnetic pulses to increase serotonin levels and improve symptoms in patients. Unlike other treatments for autism, TMS is completely painless. Though there are some concerns about long-term side effects, TMS is very effective in treating autism, severe cases of major depressive disorder, as well as other comorbid mental disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder. It’s important to keep in mind that TMS is a treatment, not a cure.

TMS therapy at Lucid Wellness Center in Los Angeles can help with a wide range of mental health disorders, including but not limited to the conditions listed below.

TMS was originally used as a treatment for depression. There is now an enormous body of research showing TMS therapy’s efficacy in the treatment of all types of depression. During a TMS session geared toward treating depression, TMS pulses are directed toward the areas of the brain most affected by depressive symptoms. TMS therapy works by altering the neuronal activity and the synaptic connections in the brain – especially in the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for high level cognition and decision-making. During a DMS session, magnetic pulses lead to increased activity in this area of the brain. At Lucid, clients with depression receive TMS treatment specifically designed to eliminate symptoms, and the vast majority benefit from complete remission of symptoms.

In recent years, scientists have discovered that TMS therapy can help people who are trying to stay off of drugs and alcohol. One study conducted in 2018 showed that magnetic stimulation leads to a reduction in neuronal firing when a person is confronted with a drug-related trigger or cue. The study demonstrated that people receiving TMS therapy are less likely to relapse on cocaine, alcohol, and other addictive substances.

Recreational drugs are not the only addictions that TMS can help with. Individuals who are trying to quit smoking may get the relief they need simply by going to a few treatment sessions. Recent research shows that people going in for TMS therapy are at a lower risk of relapse, stay off cigarettes longer, and are also more likely to engage successfully in other treatment approaches.

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that a person has for life. However, while it is not curable, it is possible to live with bipolar disorder without disruptive symptoms. TMS therapy makes bipolar disorder for more manageable by treating the condition’s symptoms. During bipolar disorder treatment with TMS, magnetic pulses focus on areas of the brain most directly affected by bipolar disorder. As with depression treatment, the magnetic pulses also target the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This level of stimulation increases mood stability and helps clients regulate their thoughts and emotions. As a result, clients with bipolar disorder can live joyful and fulfilling lives.

TMS is as effective for anxiety as it is for depression. A growing body of research shows that TMS treatment not only reduces the painful symptoms of anxiety, but it also cuts it off at the source. When a person has anxiety disorder, specific areas of the brain that control adrenaline and the “fight or flight” response are overactive. During TMS treatment for anxiety, magnetic pulses target these overactive areas of the brain and help clients relax. After just a few sessions, many people with anxiety disorder experience complete relief from the symptoms of their anxiety or panic disorder.

When it comes to OCD, the most popular treatment options remain behavioral therapies as well as prescription drugs. However, more than two fifths of people with OCD who use this common treatment interventions still experience disruptive symptoms. TMS therapy can be extremely beneficial for these cases. It is also approved by the FDA as a treatment for OCD. When a person with OCD goes in for treatment, the magnetic impulses aim for the areas of the brain that control OCD symptoms.

TMS treatment is one of the safest and most effective approaches to reducing the frequency and intensity of migraines. Migraines are literally caused by dysfunctional brain activity. During TMS treatment, magnetic impulses target the areas of the brain most associated with migraines. These areas include the occipital cortex of the brain. Migraines are partially caused by brain activity that is too high in these areas. The magnetic pulses that occur during TMS treatment reduce this overactivity. After even a single session, many clients report a dramatic drop in migraine frequency – and the vast majority find that the symptoms and pain levels are far more manageable.

Peripartum depression is an extremely common condition that many people find too taboo to discuss, despite how common it is. It is a type of depression that occurs while a person is pregnant. However, it can also be diagnosed during the first year after childbirth. Many new mothers, pregnant mothers, or nursing mothers are reluctant to take prescription drugs that may affect their child. TMS therapy is FDA-approved, non-invasive, and extremely safe. As an intervention for perinatal depression, it stands above other options. Transcranial magnetic stimulation at Lucid in Los Angeles, CA can help mothers at any stage get relief from their depressive symptoms, allowing them to focus on their lives and their families.

Borderline personality disorder is a condition that is often very difficult to treat. Left untreated, however, it can make it very difficult for a person to sustain relationships or live healthy and fulfilling lives. One study in 2017 showed that TMS can help people with borderline personality disorder by decreasing their rate of self-harm and suicidal ideation. As a side effect, patients with borderline personality disorder who received TMS therapy also found that their behavior in social situations improved. The stronger interpersonal relationships and improved social functioning immediately led to a better quality of life for these patients.

Alzheimer’s Disease can be one of the most painful conditions – for the person diagnosed with it as much as their family members. At Lucid’s treatment center in Los Angeles, California, we use TMS therapy to help individuals who are at any stage of this debilitating brain condition. TMS treatment for Alzheimer’s can help patients get relief from symptoms. Studies show that it may significantly reduce the symptoms of mild Alzheimer’s and even slow down the progression of the disease.

Memory loss, which is distinct from dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, is often simply part of getting older. That doesn’t mean that it’s inevitable, though, or that it can’t be treated. While memory loss to some degree will happen no matter what as a person gets older, TMS can be used to dramatically reduce the rate of memory loss. It can also prevent this condition from getting more severe. Lucid is one of Los Angeles’ top treatment centers for TMS therapy for memory loss.


TMS therapy can be helpful for individuals who do not have debilitating conditions as well. The many benefits of this therapeutic modality can help individuals achieve peak performance in any number of areas, including cognitive performance, mood, and concentration. Why reach for coffee when you can improve how your brain functions on the neurological level? TMS peak performance treatment at Lucid is most helpful, for individuals who have mild anxiety, mild depression, or those who are reluctant to take prescription drugs – or who have found prescription drugs ineffective.

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