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Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Helped by Transcendental Meditation

March 25, 2013

NEW YORK - One in 88 American children currently suffer from Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the face of this epidemic, a growing number of children with ASD are finding relief through the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique—a simple, effortless meditation practiced 15 to 20 minutes twice daily.

ASD is a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges, including language delays, unusual behaviors and interests, and challenges fitting in with other kids, according to the CDC. There are three types of ASD: Classic Autism, Asperger Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder. All three can cause extremely high stress levels among patients and their families.

The TM technique is an effective tool for managing high stress levels and improving overall health, as shown by than 340 peer-reviewed studies conducted at research centers including Harvard, UCLA, and Stanford.

That's why physicians like Norman Rosenthal , M.D., are prescribing TM practice for children with ASD. Rosenthal is the author of the NY Times bestselling book Transcendence: Healing and Transformation Through Transcendental Meditation. In the book, he discusses the role that TM practice can play for those with ASD:

"On a theoretical level, how might TM be helping these people with ASD? They clearly have trouble understanding the emotions and expectations of others, which makes interaction stressful and withdrawal understandable. They fear novelty, unexpected situations, and having to adapt to situations in which they don't have control. As with so many other people, TM appears to reduce their stress and anxiety, making it easier for them to venture out, try new things, and learn new skills."

"In addition, it is well known that in people with ASD, there is impaired prefrontal cortex (PFC) function. As we know, the PFC is crucial for making good decisions and judgments. In many situations TM seems to boost PFC functioning, perhaps by reducing stress. This might also explain why people with ASD become more willing to explore new environments and behaviors after they start to meditate."

Parents like Yvonne Kurtz are seeing results. Kurtz says the TM program has helped her son, Adam, to manage his symptoms of Asperger's and improve his overall experience at school and at home.

"One day my husband and I woke up and we were talking and I said, 'You know, Adam hasn't had a temper tantrum in a while. We were very pleased at that. And then we started getting the reports in from school and we were astounded, really. I went back to the spring conference and the teachers, every single one right down the line, exclaimed at how much he had improved. He got straight A's and he has maintained that....TM is one of the best things we've done for him. I just couldn't recommend anything more highly."

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