Transcranial magnetic stimulation for autism?
February 9, 2017 10:24 AM   Subscribe

Have you or someone you know used TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) or MeRT (Magnetic e-Resonance Therapy) for autism/spectrum disorders?

This place just opened up a clinic in my city in Mexico. For reasons we were gifted the cost of the trial week they use to assess if the patient is candidate to receive the treatment or not. Took my son to 4 sessions, we got the report back, and he's a candidate. He has been to all sorts of evaluations with no definitive autism diagnosis but my best guess is he has Pervasive Developmental Disorder.
Called up his pediatric neurologist and she said go for it...made a visit to our pediatrician and he's all "that's a fraud, it's like taking herbal pills for cancer, it's snake oil....nothing that claims to work for so many different disorders really works for any at all...." etc
He told me that basically there's no scientific evidence that this treatment works, but that if I could find any, he'd look at it. We don't depend on him to make our decision, but in any case, I do want to research more because this is very expensive and I'm afraid of any negative side effects.
So my question has two parts:
1. Have you or someone you know had this treatment for spectrum related issues.
2. Do you have any information I might want to read or share with our pediatrician?
posted by CrazyLemonade to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This isn't really an answer to your question, but I wanted to chime in b/c I am currently undergoing Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy for depression. TMS can (not always) be quite painful for the patient. For me, the treatments are so painful, I have to take quasi-narcotics just to get through them. As with anything, YMMV.
posted by strelitzia at 11:04 AM on February 9, 2017 [4 favorites]

Here's a decent looking review of current research froma relatively well respected medical journal.

Also important to note from the article:
" is unlikely that therapeutic TMS would reverse multiple aspects of the ASD phenotype, rather, it may improve specific core or associated symptoms related to an alteration in the functioning of a specific cortical region or circuit."
It's not a cure all. It might improve specific symptoms.
posted by cosmicbandito at 11:06 AM on February 9, 2017

Here is a layperson-friendly write up of why your pediatrician is expressing concerns. It also includes anecdotal evidence from persons on the autism spectrum who have tried it and note that the effect is short term. (The best known personal accounts are from this author, who would argue it was still transformative and worth it.)
posted by blue suede stockings at 11:42 AM on February 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

John Elder Robison has recently published a memoir about having the treatment.
posted by brujita at 12:25 PM on February 9, 2017

I'm a psychologist and autism researcher at a university. I've worked with many families who say that they've tried TMS for their children, and have not seen any benefits. I agree with your pediatrician, and would definitely not recommend it. It can be quite painful and upsetting for the child.
posted by scalar_implicature at 1:13 PM on February 9, 2017 [5 favorites]

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