Sensory Deprivation Tanks for Autism

– Jayden using the rainbow light setting for light therapy.

Talking Points:

  • Understanding the Autism Spectrum
  • REST and the benefits on overstimulated senses
  • Emotional wellbeing, alleviating stress and balancing hormones
  • 3 Studies on the positive impacts of REST and Floating

Understanding the Autism Spectrum

Many people misconceive Autism because it covers such a wide variety (and often a combination) of different behaviours. The name ‘Autism Spectrum’, alludes to the many types of behaviours and different levels of intensity exhibited by those on the spectrum. Some who are on the Autism Spectrum dislike strong sensory input such as intense noise, lighting, smells, tastes and other sensory experiences. In Sensory Deprivation Tanks, our senses are free from external input which can alleviate the stress of feeling overstimulated.

REST and the Benefits on Overstimulated Senses

Float tanks are sound-proof which eliminates audio input, with the light off, you are free from visual input, the tank has a neutral scent, and the physical sensation of the dense water is soothing, comfortable and relaxing. REST (Restricted Environment Stimulation Technique) has been shown to help many people who feel overwhelmed by heightened sensory stimulation. Additionally, the alone time can provide a break from the pressure of social interaction, which can become overwhelming at times.

Emotional wellbeing, Alleviating Stress and Balancing Hormones

Stress is strongly associated with hormonal imbalance. Float tanks can assist in the production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter in the brain involved in sleep, sensory experiences, and sense of well-being, as outlined in this study. Floating also heals the body and by replenishing the supply of endorphins and dopamine in the body. For many, after a float, they will experience a healthy release of Dopamine which can prevent them from turning to repetitive addictive behaviours.

Another neurotransmitter, Glutamate, the primary excitatory brain neurotransmitter stimulating brain cells to fire, is associated with learning and memory. The tanks provide excellent conditions for creating new neurological pathways, balancing hormone levels and forming positive habits. The relaxing effects of the tanks can also be attributed to the lower Cortisol (a hormone strongly involved with stress) and increased melatonin (great for relaxation and entering deeper levels of sleep).

3 Studies on the Positive Impacts of REST and Floating

Studies on the impact of using float tanks to improve a person’s physical, emotional, and mental health have shown that float therapy can relieve pain, reduce stress, increase optimism, reduce anxiety, and more.

1. This study on REST in the Treatment of Persistent Psychophysiological Insomnia shows how floating can improve REM sleep which is the deep sleep required to effectively heal and rebuild neurological pathways in the brain improving clarity, focus, problem-solving skills and hormonal imbalances.

2. Quality of Life with Flotation Therapy for a Person Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, Atypical Autism, PTSD, Anxiety and Depression. Sweden 2013. The aim of this study was to analyze experiences from one and a half years of regular floating. The subject was a 24-year-old woman diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, atypical autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. During the study, she floated regularly for one and a half years. Interviews regarding her experiences found an improved quality of life, wellbeing and healthy behaviour. Results suggest that floating can have highly beneficial therapeutic effects on one’s mental health.

3. A Case Study on Tyler’s Experience with Floating. The Gersh Academy at Cougar Mountain in Western Australia has recently added Floating to the curriculum after a trial of regular floating had a very positive effect on one of the students, Tyler, who is on the spectrum. “Whenever it’s super noisy, I start to get major anxiety. I’m not able to concentrate on one thing” Tyler says. After trying regular floating, he said that his anxiety has gone “way down” since floating in the pods and that the relaxation he feels during his sessions has spilt over into the rest of his day which has also been helping him to sleep more soundly at night.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Float therapy uses sensory deprivation to create a calming, healing environment that can have a great effect on a person’s physical, mental, and emotional health. We recommend that if you are thinking about trying floating, give our Introductory Taste of Freedom pack a try which saves you $77 and includes 3 floats. Generally during the first float, you begin to get comfortable with the experience of floating in nothingness, the second time is generally where you start to really relax into the experience and really get a feel for your physical and mental state, and by the third float, you will most likely notice some serious improvement physically and/or mentally inside the pod and also in your daily life.

*If you require a Carer for activities such as getting in and out of a bath, showering, using the restroom or for other related types of support, please arrange a carer to accompany you to your sessions.

Call 55357778 to book or click Book Now at the top of the screen.

Written by Skye Miller