Anxiety, autism and eye movements

Chase Johnson referenced anxiety as the main reason that he once avoided eye contact.  He cited “feeling as though he were being stared into” as the source of the discomfort generated by maintaining eye contact.

Social anxiety is a hallmark of ASD, but so, too, is it a general psychiatric condition experienced by individuals that are not on the spectrum.  Psychiatric comorbidities – inattention, hyperactivity, aggression, depression, anxiety, mania and even psychosis – often occur with ASD, but there is significant discussion regarding whether or not these conditions are part of ASD or actual comorbidities.Dr. Roma Vasa of the Kennedy Krieger Institute delivered a lecture on “Anxiety in Youth with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.” Dr. Vasa indicated that ASD adds an additional layer of social, emotional and developmental impairment to children and their communication.  Immature communicative skills reduce people with ASD’s ability to explain their feelings, and their ASD generally makes it difficult for them to understand the very abstract concept of “feelings.”  Luckily, neuroscience reveals what some individuals with ASD cannot communicate.  Studies show that structural and functional changes in the amygdale of people with autism lead to weak connectivity between the amygdale and regions of the cortex involved in regional anxiety.  Regional anxiety occurs in the brain’s frontal cortex.  People with autism have strong connections between adjacent brain regions but not between regions that aren’t localized.  In individuals with autism, the amygdale has reduced communication with the frontal cortex, which controls anxiety.

Here enters Brainjogging: Brainjogging trains the brain.  Through repeated, targeted exercises, Brainjogging facilitates communication between brain cells.  Brainjogging’s eye movements strengthen students’ cognitive processing speeds and their brain regions’ overall ability to communicate with one another.  More and more, researchers are focusing on the eye as the source of learning disabilities.  Individuals with autism have slower pupil light responses than typically developing individuals; they also rely more on their body’s relation to an object than on visual cues.  Dyslexia is often referred to as “word blindness” because people with dyslexia often do not move their eyes far enough to the sides to see words.  A recent study on anxiety by University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health found that “increased brain activity in the amygdale and anterior hippocampus” can predict anxious temperaments (Science Daily).  Autism is marked by significant activity in the amygdale and reduced connectivity to other brain regions.

Researchers from Wisconsin-Madison stated, “We think we can train vulnerable kids to settle their brains down.” Brainjogging settles students’ brains!  Brainjoggers experience significant decreases in anxiety-related behavioral manifestations.  Daily Brainjogging exercises strengthen students’ brains’ connectivity, thereby enabling brain regions to communicate more effectively and with greater reliability.  KKI’s Dr. Vasa stated that cognitive therapy shows promise for decreasing anxiety in clinical studies – we know that cognitive therapy decreases anxiety in our Brainjoggers.  One Brainjogger, a darling six year old child that once picked her hands until they bled, no longer manifests this behavior; she also does not worry bandaids into tatters.  The general education teacher of a five year old that began Brainjogging only six weeks ago has reported that this child is no longer hand-flapping or chewing on his shirt.  In older students, we see a marked increase in self-esteem.  Brainjogging deceases anxiety and increases self-esteem – it is a valuable resource for those experiencing anxiety, whether or not they are on the spectrum.  Students with language processing disorder, who are very susceptible to depression, experience heightened self-esteem with Brainjogging.  We train the brain – and we can help settle your child’s brain.

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