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Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) Therapy For Autism And Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)



Did you know that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects approximately 1 in 36 children in the United States, according to the latest CDC data? 

As parents and healthcare professionals seek new approaches to support individuals with autism, Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) therapy has become a topic of interest as a complementary treatment. 

This non-invasive technique, which uses low-frequency electromagnetic fields to possibly influence cellular activity, has drawn attention to its possible benefits in managing some symptoms associated with ASD. 

In this post, we’ll explore the current understanding of PEMF therapy and its applications for individuals on the autism spectrum.

What Is An Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)? 

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental condition that affects how individuals communicate, learn, and behave. It is characterised by difficulties in social interactions, obsessive interests, and repetitive behaviours. ASD can be diagnosed at any age and is a lifelong condition.

The term “spectrum” in ASD refers to the wide range of symptoms and their varying severity. This spectrum includes conditions such as autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).

Symptoms of ASD typically appear in the first two years of life, although early signs can sometimes be observed before a child reaches one year of age. Early diagnosis and intervention are important as they improve the quality of life and help individuals develop essential skills. 

Signs and Symptoms of ASD

The severity of signs and symptoms of autism spectrum disorder varies among individuals. 

Following are some of the common types of behaviours noticed in people with ASD: 

  • Intense focus on one item
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Repetitive moves
  • Lack of understanding of facial expressions, body language, and other gestures
  • Self-abusive behaviour, such as head-banging
  • Lack of interaction with other children
  • Avoidance of eye contact
  • Lack of empathy
  • Does not respond to their name
  • Delayed speech
  • Abnormal tone or rhythm to speak
  • Difficulty understanding simple things
  • Stick to a specific routine and get disturbed by slight changes
  • Sensitive to sound, touch, or light
  • Difficulty adjusting behaviours to social situations
  • Inability to understand other person’s point of view or actions
  • Difficulty with communication and interaction
  • Infrequently sharing interests, emotions or other activities
  • Having a lasting interest in specific topics
  • Sleep problems or irritability 

How Can Autism Be Diagnosed?

Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) involves a multi-step process that includes developmental screening, comprehensive diagnostic evaluation, and ongoing assessment. 

1. Developmental Screening

Developmental screening is the first step in identifying children who may have developmental delays, including autism. This can be conducted by paediatricians, early childhood educators, or other healthcare professionals during routine check-ups. Key elements of developmental screening include:

  • Observations and Questionnaires — Parents and caregivers are asked about their child’s development, behaviour, and milestones. Standardised screening tools such as the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) are commonly used.
  • Screening Frequency — It is recommended that all children be screened for developmental delays at their 9-, 18-, and 24- or 30-month well-child visits. Additional screenings may be necessary if there are concerns about a child’s development.

2. Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation

If screening results indicate potential developmental issues, a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation is the next step. This in-depth evaluation involves a multidisciplinary team of specialists, including developmental paediatricians, child psychologists, speech-language pathologists, and occupational therapists. Components of a comprehensive evaluation include:

  • Medical History and Interviews — Detailed information about the child’s prenatal, birth and developmental history is gathered. Parents and caregivers are interviewed about their child’s behaviour and development.
  • Behavioural Observations — Clinicians observe the child’s behaviour in structured and unstructured settings to identify characteristic signs of ASD.
  • Standardised Testing — Various standardised tests and assessments are used to evaluate the child’s cognitive, language, social, and adaptive functioning. Commonly used tools include the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) and the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R).
  • Hearing and Vision Screening — These screenings ensure that sensory impairments are not contributing to the child’s developmental delays.
  • Genetic Testing — In some cases, genetic testing may be recommended to identify any underlying genetic conditions associated with autism, such as Fragile X syndrome or Rett syndrome.

3. Ongoing Assessment

ASD is a lifelong condition that may require ongoing assessment and adjustment of interventions. 

Key aspects of ongoing assessment include:

  • Regular Monitoring — Continuous monitoring of the child’s development and behaviour helps to assess the effectiveness of interventions and make necessary adjustments.
  • Reevaluation — Periodic reevaluations ensure that the child’s changing needs are met and that new challenges are addressed promptly.
  • Collaboration with Educators and Therapists — Close collaboration between healthcare providers, educators, and therapists ensures a comprehensive approach to supporting the child’s development.

What Are The Causes and Risk Factors of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

The exact causes of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are not fully understood, but research indicates that a combination of genetic and environmental factors contributes to its development. 

Key factors include:

  • Heritability — Studies show that autism tends to run in families. If one child has autism, there is an increased likelihood that their siblings may also have autism.
  • Specific Genetic Conditions — Certain genetic disorders such as Fragile X syndrome, Rett syndrome, and Tuberous Sclerosis are associated with a higher risk of developing autism. Together, these conditions account for a significant proportion of autism cases.
  • Genetic Mutations — De novo mutations (new mutations that are not inherited from parents) can occur spontaneously and are linked to autism. These mutations may affect brain development and function.
  • Nutrition — Prenatal vitamins, particularly those containing folic acid, may provide protective effects against autism. Research suggests that women who take prenatal vitamins during pregnancy may reduce the risk of having a child with autism.
  • Maternal Health — Conditions such as maternal obesity, diabetes, and immune system disorders have been linked to an increased likelihood of having a child with autism. Fever during pregnancy has also been associated with a higher risk.
  • Parental Age — Advanced parental age at the time of conception, particularly paternal age, is associated with a higher risk of autism.
  • Complications During Pregnancy and Birth — Factors such as low birth weight, premature birth, and complications during delivery may increase the risk of autism.
  • Prenatal Exposure — Exposure to certain substances during pregnancy, such as valproic acid and thalidomide, has been linked to a higher risk of autism. Maternal exposure to certain infections, environmental toxins, and pesticides may also contribute.
  • Air Pollution — Early-life exposure to air pollution, especially traffic-related pollution, has been identified as a potential risk factor. Studies have shown that children of mothers living near freeways during pregnancy are at a higher risk.
  • Heavy Metals and Contaminants — Prenatal and early childhood exposure to heavy metals like mercury, lead, and arsenic, as well as altered levels of essential metals like zinc and manganese, have been studied. There is concern about the impact of these metals on brain development.

Myths and Misconceptions

It is important to address common misconceptions about the causes of autism:

  • Vaccines — Extensive research has shown no link between vaccines and the development of autism. The notion that vaccines cause autism has been thoroughly debunked by scientific studies.
  • Parenting Style — Autism is not caused by parenting practices. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder with complex genetic and environmental roots.

Treatment and Therapies for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

There is no single approach to treatment, as the symptoms of ASD vary from person to person. The goal of autism treatment is to maximise the level of functionality and to encourage individuals to live normal lives. Today’s main therapy under discussion is PEMF therapy, but other therapies are mentioned to give you an overview.

1. Behavioural and Communication Therapies

  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) — A well-known therapy that encourages positive behaviours and discourages negative behaviours to improve various skills.
  • Speech Therapy — Helps improve communication skills.
  • Occupational Therapy — Assists in developing daily living skills.
  • Social Skills Training — Teaches children the skills they need to interact socially.

2. Educational Therapies

  • Individualised Education Programs (IEP) — Tailored to meet the specific educational needs of the child.
  • Early Intervention— Programs for children under the age of three can significantly improve outcomes.

3. Medical and Pharmacological Treatments

  • Medications — Can help manage symptoms like anxiety, depression, or hyperactivity. Commonly used medications include antipsychotics and antidepressants.

4. Complementary and Alternative Treatments

  • Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) Therapy—  This therapy is safe, non-invasive, and helps improve mitochondrial function, oxygenation, neuron conduction, and neurotransmitter production.
  • Dietary Interventions— Some families find that dietary changes, such as gluten-free or casein-free diets, help improve symptoms.
  • Vitamin and Supplement Therapy— Certain supplements like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins B6 and B12 might be beneficial.

5. Sensory-Based Therapies

  • Sensory Integration Therapy— Helps children with sensory processing issues by exposing them to sensory stimulation in a structured way.

6. Psychological Therapies

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)— Focuses on changing negative thoughts and behaviours.
  • Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)— Enhances the parent-child relationship and improves behaviour.

7. Technological Aids

  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Devices— Help non-verbal children communicate more effectively.
  • Computer-Based Interventions— Use technology to teach and reinforce skills.

8. Support and Counseling

  • Family Counseling— Helps families cope with the challenges of ASD.
  • Support Groups— Provide a network for families and individuals affected by ASD.

9. Lifestyle and Home Remedies

  • Structured Routine— Helps provide predictability and reduces stress.
  • Physical Activity— Regular exercise can help manage symptoms.

What Is PEMF Therapy And How Does It Reduce the Symptoms of Autism? 

Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) therapy, particularly when applied to the head or brain, is known as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). 

This therapy stimulates brain activity using electromagnetic fields. It is a non-invasive treatment that enhances neural communication, improves blood flow, and supports neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to reorganise itself by forming new neural connections. 

These effects lead to improved focus, mood, and cognitive function, making PEMF a potential treatment for various neurological conditions, including autism and ASD. 

Some of the science-backed working mechanisms and benefits are given below.

  • Improved Brain Blood Circulation

PEMF therapy enhances blood flow to the brain, which is particularly beneficial for individuals with autism. Many children with ASD show atypical brain activation patterns and reduced blood flow in certain areas. By improving cerebral circulation, PEMF enhances brain function, supports neuroplasticity, and addresses some of the neurological differences associated with autism spectrum disorders. This increased blood flow might help deliver essential nutrients and oxygen more efficiently to brain regions that are crucial for social interaction, communication, and sensory processing – areas often affected in individuals with ASD.

  • Gene Expression and Inflammation Reduction

PEMF therapy has shown effectiveness in reducing inflammation and modifying gene expression, which can be beneficial for neurological conditions, including ASD.

A study on intervertebral disc cells found that PEMF therapy reduced the expression of genes associated with inflammation and degeneration. While this study focused on back problems, the findings suggest that PEMF could also reduce inflammation in the brain, which may help with ASD symptoms.

  • Improvements in Pain, Stiffness, and Physical Function

PEMF therapy has demonstrated improvements in pain, stiffness, and physical function in patients with osteoarthritis, which may translate to broader applications in neurological conditions like ASD.

A meta-analysis revealed that PEMF therapy significantly improves pain, stiffness, and physical function in osteoarthritis patients. It reduces levels of certain inflammatory chemicals in the body. Reducing these chemicals can help lower inflammation, which is often higher in people with ASD.

  • Effect On Behaviour 

In 2010, research was done by the University of Louisville School of Medicine; scientists found substantial improvement in the behaviour of autistic children who tried magnetic stimulation​​. Irritability and repetitive behaviour decreased in these subjects. 

In 2014, an 18-week study with two control groups showed remarkable improvement in the behaviour and cognition of autistic teenagers using a 1 Hz magnetic field.​

  • Effects On Social Functioning 

2014 saw another double-blind study at Monash University, Australia, where they also found that TMS decreases autism spectrum disorder-related anxiety and social problems that such patients face.​

Similarly, one young woman with autism improved her social skills after brain stimulation using specialised tools. 

  • Effects On Movement-Associated Cortical Potentials 

Neuroscientists have been studying PEMF and magnetic stimulation methods for treating various psychiatric disorders in children, including ADHD, ASD, schizophrenia, and Tourette’s syndrome​​. The positive results of the research indicated a great healing potential of pulsed electromagnetic fields to reduce elevated cortical excitability and movement-related electrophysiology​​.

Harvard medical scientists found that pulsed magnetic stimulation (PEMF) improves neuroplasticity and supports the safety and tolerability of high-intensity theta-burst magnetic stimulation.

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PEMF therapy is a natural and powerful tool that can aid ASD patients with motor, social, and behavioural impairments. It is safe and offers long-lasting outcomes to autistic patients.  

Are you in search of a high-quality PEMF device? 

Recovery systems PEMF Bio mat series is what you need. It is proven to be effective in keeping autism symptoms in control. Our mats are designed with a remarkable combination of 5 recovery modalities, i.e., PEMF, far infrared, negative ion, heat and red-light therapy.

They work by mimicking the frequency of Schumann resonance (Earth’s natural heartbeat rhythm) to benefit the overall mental and physical health of people who have autism.

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People Also Ask:

Does sound frequency help autistic children?

Sound frequency therapies, such as auditory integration training (AIT) and binaural beats, have been explored as potential interventions for children with autism. While some anecdotal reports suggest benefits, scientific evidence is mixed:

  • Auditory Integration Training (AIT) 

Some studies report improvements in auditory processing and behaviour, but others find no significant effects. However, a Cochrane review of six randomised controlled trials (RCTs) concluded that there is no sufficient evidence to support the use of AIT or other sound therapies, indicating mixed results and inadequate experimental controls.

  • Binaural beats

Limited research exists on their efficacy for autism specifically. Some preliminary studies suggest potential benefits for attention and relaxation, but more rigorous research is needed. While some individuals may report positive experiences, sound frequency therapies are not considered evidence-based treatments for autism. Any use should be approached cautiously and in consultation with healthcare professionals.

How effective is MERT treatment for autism?

Magnetic e-Resonance Therapy (MeRT) shows promise for autism by combining Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and EEG to modify brain wave patterns. Small-scale studies and anecdotal evidence suggest improvements in communication, social interactions, and behaviour. However, response variability, limited large-scale research, and high costs present challenges. While some individuals benefit significantly, others see minimal changes. MeRT is generally well-tolerated and may complement traditional therapies like ABA and speech therapy. More extensive research is needed to establish its efficacy and develop personalised treatment protocols.

Is light therapy good for autism?

Light therapy, especially using blue light, can help regulate sleep patterns in autistic individuals. Morning exposure to bright light can improve circadian rhythms, mood, and sleep quality. Some studies indicate that light therapy can reduce sleep disturbances and improve daytime alertness. However, its effectiveness can vary, and further research is necessary to establish definitive benefits for autism. Light therapy is generally considered safe, but it should be used under professional guidance to avoid potential side effects, such as eye strain or disrupted sleep, if used improperly.

What colour light is for autism?

Soft, calming colours like blue and green are generally recommended for autistic individuals. These colours can create a soothing environment, reducing anxiety and sensory overload. Blue light, in particular, has been shown to help regulate sleep patterns. It is essential to avoid bright, harsh lighting, which can be overstimulating. Adjustable, dimmable lights that allow for customisation of the light intensity can also help create a comfortable and accommodating space for autistic individuals, promoting relaxation and reducing stress.

What does PEMF do to the brain?

Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) therapy stimulates brain activity using electromagnetic fields. This non-invasive treatment can enhance neural communication, improve blood flow, and support neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to reorganise itself by forming new neural connections. These effects can lead to improved focus, mood, and cognitive function, making PEMF a potential treatment for various neurological conditions, including ADHD and depression. While PEMF shows promise, more extensive research is needed to fully understand its mechanisms and long-term effects on the brain.

What is the latest therapy for autism?

The latest therapies for autism include approaches like MeRT (Magnetic e-Resonance Therapy) and digital interventions using virtual reality (VR). MeRT combines Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and EEG to modify brain wave patterns, potentially improving communication and behaviour. VR therapy uses immersive technology to teach social skills, coping strategies, and other critical skills in a controlled, engaging environment. These therapies represent cutting-edge advancements in autism treatment, but more extensive research is necessary to validate their efficacy and determine the best protocols for widespread use.

What is the most effective therapy for autism?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is considered the most effective therapy for autism. ABA focuses on improving specific behaviours, communication, and social skills through positive reinforcement. It is widely supported by research and can be tailored to each individual’s needs, providing personalised interventions that address unique challenges. ABA has been shown to produce significant improvements in behaviour, learning, and daily functioning. Despite its effectiveness, ABA requires a substantial time commitment and trained professionals to implement correctly, which can be a limitation for some families.

What is vibration therapy for autism?

Vibration therapy for autism involves using vibrating devices to provide sensory stimulation. This therapy can help improve sensory processing, reduce anxiety, and enhance focus. It is based on the idea that rhythmic vibrations can have a calming effect on the nervous system. While some studies and anecdotal evidence support its benefits, the overall research on vibration therapy for autism is limited. More comprehensive studies are needed to establish its effectiveness and determine the best practices for implementation. Families should consult healthcare professionals before starting vibration therapy.

What lighting is good for autism?

Soft, natural lighting is ideal for autistic individuals. Adjustable, dimmable lights that can reduce glare and brightness are recommended. Incorporating calming colours like blue and green can also help create a comfortable environment, reducing sensory overload and anxiety. Avoiding fluorescent lighting, which can flicker and cause discomfort, is essential. Providing a mix of ambient, task, and accent lighting allows for customisation based on individual needs and preferences. Creating a well-lit, soothing environment can significantly improve the comfort and well-being of autistic individuals.