PEMF Therapy and Autism

What is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder, known simply just as autism, is a condition that affects brain development, and that causes individuals to have difficulty socializing with others.

Another common aspect of this disorder is repetitive and limited patterns of behavior.

However, autism can have a wide range of symptoms, which is what the word “spectrum” in its name means.

Autism spectrum disorder includes conditions such as autism, childhood disintegrative disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, and a form of pervasive developmental disorder.

Autism usually begins early, and develops over time.

The symptoms can be seen in children as young as 2 years old, and occur in school, at home, at work, etc.


Symptoms of Autism

The first symptoms that most children develop include lack of eye contact, indifference to caregivers, and lack of response to their name.

Other children might seem asymptomatic, and then suddenly develop symptoms.

The specific symptoms and the level of their severity is different for each child.

Some children have signs of lower intelligence; others have a normal, or even a very high, intelligence.

Because of this, it is sometimes difficult to determine the severity of the disease.


Causes of Autism

There is no one single cause of autism. Considering the possible diversity of symptoms, there are probably many different causes.

The most common are:

  • Environmental factors. There are some indications that infections, complications during pregnancy, medications, and air pollution play a strong role.
  • Several genes may be linked to autism.


Autism Treatment

Since autism has so many different symptoms, there is no one single approach to treatment.

The goal of any treatment is to maximize the child’s ability to function, and to help them develop as healthily as possible.

That is why a lot of people resort to alternative medicine, such as pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy, which is showing a lot of promise in treating autism symptoms.


PEMF Therapy and Autism

Recent studies of magnetic therapies have yielded clear evidence that PEMF therapy, used in the form of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), can significantly both reduce the symptoms of autistic individuals, and improve these individuals’ overall quality of life.

It has long been known that autistic children respond well to therapy with dolphins, and that immersion in seawater has a grounding effect on these patients.

PEMF therapy has a similar effect, as it mimics the Earth’s electromagnetic fields, improves cells’ electromagnetic conductivity, and recharges cells with the energy that is necessary for them to function properly.

Numerous studies have been conducted in clinical settings using rTMS devices; these show that this therapy can have significant positive effects on autism.

PEMF is the “home version” of rTMS, so all of the benefits associated with rTMS can also be achieved with PEMF.

Home use of PEMF stimulation would possibly yield even better results, because it would be cheaper, which means that it could be applied both more often and for longer periods.

Repetitiveness and frequency are crucial when discussing the health benefits of PEMF.

Another way in which PEMF can help treat the symptoms of autism and promote normal childhood development is by improving blood flow.

Studies show that when blood flow improves in the body and the brain, individuals can communicate better, and complete cognitive tasks more quickly and with greater ease.

With enhanced blood flow, autistic patients can link their thoughts and speech much more easily.

Even though PEMF is not a cure for autism, it can clearly be used to address the symptoms, so it should be considered as one of the primary forms of treatment.

Let’s discuss some scientific evidence that supports and explains these claims.


rTMS/PEMF Research

There is significant evidence that PEMF therapy positively affects symptoms of autism.

However, most of the studies were done in clinical settings, which means that rTMS devices were used. rTMS and PEMF devices are essentially the same, both in the technology on which they are based, and the health benefits they offer.

For that reason, studies involving rTMS are still of great value to our topic.


rTMS/PEMF in the Treatment of Autism

A study, named Neuromodulation integrating rTMS and neurofeedback for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder: an exploratory study (1), is a continuation of previous studies which proved that low-frequency rTMS/PEMF stimulation has positive behavioral effects when used in experimental autism treatment.

This study sought to combine rTMS/PEMF stimulation with electroencephalographic (EEG) neurofeedback (NFB), to try and prolong the most frequently-observed positive changes.

Forty-two children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) participated in the study.

The results of the study were assessed both with behavioral evaluations and a reaction time test.

The main hypothesis of the study was that the combination of rTMS/PEMF stimulation, in combination with NFB, would give better results than the primary studies.

The study proved this hypothesis, as there was a significant difference between the treated and the control group.

The rTMS/PEMF-NFB group had much more significant improvements in functional and behavioral outcomes, which provides a basis for further studies.


A Double-Blind rTMS/PEMF Trial with Autism

Because rTMS/PEMF stimulation is a powerful therapy for treating different cortical regions in major depressive disorder, the question is whether it would also yield therapeutic benefits in ASD.

More specifically, the goal of the study named A Double-blind, Randomized Trial of Deep Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) for Autism Spectrum Disorder (2) was to determine whether rTMS/PEMF stimulation of the bilateral dorsomedial prefrontal cortex would improve social function in ASD patients.

Twenty-eight patients completed a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, during which they received daily rTMS/PEMF stimulation over a period of two weeks.

An assessment was done before the study, and the results were taken both immediately after the study and one month after.

After the study, the active rTMS/PEMF group showed a significant reduction in social ASD symptoms in both post-study assessments.

Moreover, this group also showed a reduction in anxiety and stress, compared to the placebo group.

The placebo group demonstrated no significant changes after the study.

Thus, we may conclude that it is possible to improve the social impairment caused by ASD by stimulating certain cortical regions with rTMS/PEMF.

This therapy is also a good option to reduce anxiety and depression in patients who have autism.


Effects of rTMS/PEMF on Autonomic Measures in ASD

In addition to producing symptoms related to social impairment, autism spectrum disorder also commonly affects the autonomic nervous system.

The study, named Effects of Weekly Low-frequency rTMS/PEMF on Autonomic Measures in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (3), sought to determine how rTMS/PEMF stimulation would affect autonomic function of autistic children.

As part of the study, the children would receive 18 sessions of low-frequency stimulation.

The results would be assessed using electrocardiogram (ECG) and electrodermal activity (EDA) measures, taken both before and after each session.

The scientists expected that the 18 weekly sessions of rTMS/PEMF stimulation to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex would enhance the autonomic balance in patients with ASD.

The post-therapy assessment proved the study’s hypothesis.

Namely, the patients showed a decrease in irritability, stereotype behavior, hyperactivity, and compulsive behavior, and the autonomic functions also improved significantly.

Thus, rTMS/PEMF therapy should be considered as a viable option in ASD cases.


Effects of rTMS/PEMF on Corticospinal Excitability

Although we do not yet completely understand how autistic spectrum disorders appear, and why they manifest in certain symptoms, scientists have some theories. Namely, there is significant evidence suggesting that the behavioral profile in autistic patients arises from dysfunctions in inhibitory control of the excitatory synaptic plasticity.

Previous studies show that patients with Asperger’s syndrome (which is one of the manifestations of autistic spectrum disorder) show improvements in cortical excitability after undergoing rTMS/PEMF stimulation.

With that in mind, the study Modulation of Corticospinal Excitability by Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (4) explored the effects of the development of ASD on corticospinal excitability in ASD patients.

Moreover, since rTMS/PEMF is still considered a relatively new treatment of ASD, this study sought to find out whether this therapy is safe for, and can be tolerated by, ASD patients.

Nineteen male subjects participated in this study, aged 9-18.

All of them were considered high-functioning, and received single pulses of rTMS/PEMF to the primary motor cortex.

Corticospinal excitability was measured both before and after the stimulation.

The results were that older patients experienced longer-lasting effects of rTMS/PEMF modulation, compared to the younger.

Moreover, the study supports the claim that rTMS/PEMF therapy is completely safe and well-tolerated by a diverse profile of ASD patients.


rTMS/PEMF Prefrontal Neuromodulation

In this section, we’ll be discussing a study named Prefrontal neuromodulation using rTMS improves error monitoring and correction function in autism (5), conducted at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in the U.S. in 2012.

The scientists noticed that one important function was usually impaired in autism spectrum disorder; namely, error monitoring and post-error response correction.

Numerous studies show that these two functions are usually reduced in children who have ASD.

This study sought to determine whether 12 weeks of rTMS/PEMF stimulation over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex would lead to any improvements in autistic patients.

For the results, the scientists collected data on error rate, reaction time, post-error reaction time, error-related negativity, and error-related positivity.

The researchers hypothesized that these 12 sessions would produce improvements.

Study subjects were split into two groups.

One was the rTMS/PEMF group, and the other was a wait-list group.

After the treatment, the rTMS/PEMF group showed significant improvements in all parameters, compared to the wait-list group.

The task the subjects had to complete involved the recognition of a specific illusory shape.

The most significant improvements during the test were seen in both error-related negativity and in post-error response time.


rTMS/PEMF Stimulation for Movement-Related Cortical Potentials

A group of Australian scientists conducted a study named Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) Improves Movement-related Cortical Potentials in Autism Spectrum Disorder (6), in which they examined if rTMS/PEMF stimulation could improve behavioral and electrophysiologic indices of motor activity.

Eleven ASD patients were included in the study, during which they received three sessions of rTMS/PEMF stimulation.

Each session lasted for 15 minutes at a frequency of 1 Hz.

Before and after the study, movement-related cortical potentials were assessed.

Upon completion of the study, the conclusion was that rTMS/PEMF stimulation improves movement-related electrophysiologic activity in autistic patients, probably by influencing cortical inhibitory processes.


rTMS/PEMF and Improved Social Functioning

Another study named Deep Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Associated with Improved Social Functioning in a Young Woman with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (7) was conducted in Australia.

This study examines the effects of deep rTMS/PEMF stimulation over the bilateral medial prefrontal cortex of a woman with a high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

During the 11 days of the study, the woman received nine high-frequency 15-minute sessions.

The assessments were taken before, immediately after, and one month after the sessions.

The assessment showed a number of significant improvements after the rTMS/PEMF stimulation.

These observations were related to social and interpersonal interactions, and were confirmed by family members.

Therefore, the scientists concluded that rTMS/PEMF treatment is a new, useful biomedical approach to the treatment of impaired social function in ASD.

These are similar results that standard rTMS/PEMF stimulation achieves in treating depression and schizophrenia.



Unfortunately, there aren’t currently available many successful biomedical approaches to the treatment of autism spectrum disorder.

For that reason, the studies that we’ve presented in this article, and numerous others that have so far been conducted, play an important role in helping ASD patients find a natural and safe therapy method.

As you can see from the studies and the evidence presented, PEMF therapy is a powerful tool that can help ASD patients with motor, behavioral, social, and psychological impairments.

Hopefully, more and more physicians will start considering it for, and recommending it to, their patients, as it has the potential to improve significantly their overall quality of life.