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Light Therapy and Autism

Red Light therapy has an influence on people, and can have a deep influence on many different areas of the human being from emotional to mental and even physical development. This is for every human being and children with autism are no exception. Natural light therapy is as simple as opening the curtains and window’s in the morning. Allow natural light to enter your rooms and having children sit near light therapy products early in the day. We know different coloured lighting can affect our moods, and lack of natural light can cause depression. This especially applies to people with autism. Children with Autism are especially susceptible to mood changes due to lighting. Children with ASD who have sensory issues are usually even more so susceptible. Flickering or harshly coloured lights can confuse and even hurt them, where as mellow colors can help a child relax.

 Natural light has proven benefits for autistic children, as lack natural light can help with behavioral issues and depression. Lights that are mellow colors, like blue, can help a child relax and become  creative.

Studies have shown that low-level laser therapy could be an effective tool for reducing irritability and other symptoms and behaviors associated with autism spectrum disorder in children and adolescents, with positive changes maintained and augmented over time. Roughly every 24 hours.

Natural light helps to regulate a child’s circadian rhythm. A circadian rhythm, is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats

Light Therapy, also called “phototherapy”, involves exposure to artificial light. During light therapy, your child sits near a device called a light box. This box gives off bright light that mimics natural outdoor light. There are other devices, such as head helmets or masks.

Phototherapy is thought to affect brain chemicals linked to mood, easing SAD symptoms. Using a box light has also shown to help with other types of depression, sleep disorders and other conditions.

Light therapy is most effective when your child has the proper combination of:

Timing, Light intensity and duration.

Timing: The best time for treatment is in the morning soon after your child rises. Even just spending 30 minutes in the light can improve your child’s moods and sleeping patterns as well as daytime alertness. Be warned, light therapy at night can have negative effects, confusing a child’s routine and making it harder to fall asleep. Like most treatments of autism, sleep training should be done consistently.

Intensity: For therapy purposes, light also plays it’s part. Lights that shine at 10,000 lux and emit no ultraviolet light are optimal. A “lux”, is a measure of the amount of light received at a specific distance from the light source. Light boxes usually produce between 2,500 and 10,000 lux.

Duration: When the child first starts Light therapy, it will probably be recommended the initial treatments will be for shorter periods, maybe for example a period of 15 minutes. Your child will then gradually work up to longer sessions, eventually typically daily sessions ranging from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the light box’s intensity. A 10,000 lux light box usually requires 30 minute sessions, whilst a 2,500-lux light box will require a two hour session.

Understanding how natural light therapy, or phototherapy works, and that it is safe for adults is important. It produces the same positive effects for children with autism by improving sleep quality and reducing behavioral issues related to seasonal depression.

The healing powers of light therapy for Kids with Autism Light Therapy has been shown to relieve symptoms in children with ASD who suffer from seasonal affective disorder and depression, as well as improving behavioral issues.

Damaged crystalline structures in neural pathways lead to the development of autism in children because they halt speech, physical, emotional and mental development. Neuroscientist Jean Gener, believes that exposure to light wavelengths in rainbow colors (red, orange, green, blue, indigo, yellow and violet) using light therapy will repair the damaged structures and allow a child to develop at a more normal pace or more normally.

In autistic children who suffer from Seasonal affective disorder, light therapy has shown to help relieve symptoms as previously stated, as well as reduce sleep-related problems, such as insomnia.

It also also shown to;

  • Reduce disruptive behaviors
  • Improve sleep-wake cycles
  • Limit the use of sleep aids to help a child fall asleep
  • Improve daytime alertness
  • Reduce circadian rhythm dysfunctions (which I think should be top of the list, as it is in control of so many developmental delays.)
  • Potentially lower the child’s dose of antidepressants or sleep medication.

Studies have shown that lighting and color are important elements in creating a comfortable space for a child with autism . There are aids to check out, on creating a calming sensory bedroom space. For expert advice interior designer Carolyn Feder, had an article published in Autism Parenting Magazine.

While light therapy does not necessarily cure SAD, depression, insomnia or those disruptive mood behaviors, it can improve the health and well-being of the child.

Aside from easing the symptoms of insomnia ans SAD, it can also boost the child’s energy levels, improve the child’s mood and enhance their quality of life.

Please note: It is important to work with your child’s physician to develop a routine or set light therapy schedule.

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