Austism Specturm Disorders and Polyvagal Theory

In his book “The Pocket Guide to the Polyvagal Theory” Dr Stephen W. Porges detail down how physiological state affects a person on Autism Spectrum Disorders. See below:


ASDs (Autism Spectrum Disorders) are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, hypersensitivities, attention, motor coordination and repetitive behaviors.

A relationship can be very tricky, for anyone. Having autism doesn’t make this any easier, and can cause misunderstandings, problems with communication and other things. It is incredibly important for the person with autism to feel safe with their significant other. Feeling safe will motivate them to show their true selves, but will also motivate them to work on the relationship and help maintain it.

Safety is not a removal of threat

The key to engage children on the spectrum is all about making them feeling safe.

Safety is not about having weapon to protect oneself, or having security guards around. Our nervous system is significantly more sophisticated than that. Our nervous system constantly looking for cues of safety. As an example, how does the good-enough mother calm a tantruming baby? She uses vocal intonations to reassure the child that everything is ok.

The typical training method in our society is training through reinforcement (both positive and negative reinforcement). The same is applied to autism. We (as a society) have been treating autism as a behavioural phenomenon that can be manipulated (or trained) through reinforcement.

As an example, if you are not looking at the person you interact with, you are being considered as not sociable. Consequently, we make people social by getting them to look in the eyes. However, this is often not spontaneous for person on autism spectrum. It means that person with autism making eye contact in a state of terror because their physiology is uncomfortable looking at the eyes.

There’s an evolutionary reason for this that has to do with being primates. Eye gaze is a threat response unless you’re welcoming. Our bodies respond to this intrusion. Any type of intrusion will result in a destabilization of behaviour, so the real issue with children on the spectrum is, “What is their physiological state at the moment you’re interacting with them?” and “Can you find that portal to calm that physiology down?” We have to find our way into that nervous system to give them the cues to give up that defensive system.

The Sensory Profile is Not Static

What’s happened with the autism diagnostic criteria is that the sensory part is critical. People start to believe that the sensory features are a biological or genetic part of that person, but they’re really a function of the physiological state the child is in. The hypersensitivity to sounds or lights, the irritability of ingested food, being uncomfortable with the novelty of food, and gut problems are all emergent properties of the body being in defense.

The body has this defensive physiological state. We don’t know where it came from, but that’s irrelevant. The focus is, “Can we re-tune that autonomic nervous system to enable the child to spontaneously engage, to hear human voice in background sounds, and to be exploratory in this world?


That’s where NuCalm interacts with the world of autism.

How NuCalm Helps Autistic Person Feeling Safe

The SNS, or Sympathetic Nervous System, the part that prepares us for fight or flight includes hyper arousal and hypervigilance. One is tuned for a predator coming. People who have had trauma show that their bodies are in a state of threat. As children become more comfortable, even the way children give hugs changes. You see social withdrawal when in a state of threat and these are all adaptive behaviours.

Balancing the amount of time our body spends in “fight-or-flight” vs “rest-and-digest” is called autonomic nervous system (ANS) balance.

NuCalm® is the world’s first and only patented neuroscience technology clinically proven to lower stress and balance the autonomic nervous system – without drugs. NuCalm gives you the power and control to slow down and recharge anywhere, any time. NuCalm predictably and quickly “flips the switch” from high cortisol and adrenaline (“fight-or-flight”) to deep relaxation. This allows your body to stop the flood of cortisol and transition away from the stress response, into deep relaxation and restoration, and, most importantly for person on autism spectrum, feeling safe.

A 20 minutes NuCalm session allows you to go from stressed, fearful, heighten state and out of control, to a state of deep calm and balance. A complete NuCalm session (to your natural endpoint) will allow your body to achieve complete balance of your autonomic nervous system. Your physiology will be optimized and your mind will be clear and focused. Stress and fear will not interfere with your decision making.

NuCalm will utilize your body’s own systems to naturally interrupt the midbrain stress response and transition to deep relaxation. By calming down the over firing parasympathetic nervous system, the fear respond can be managed with greater ease and improve the life quality of the autistic children and their caretaker.

You already have the structures in your nervous system, they’re just stuck in a different state like water being steam or ice, but it’s still the same molecule. NuCalm says to the body, “Give up the defenses and become accessible.” After just a few NuCalm sessions, it is observable that the child’s behaviour is less defensive and more accessible.

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