Can float pod increase the quality of life for a person with autism? Like so many other things about autism, the answer is maybe. Autism is a highly individual condition and it probably affects no two individuals in precisely the same way. Furthermore, we have learned here at Peak that people’s responses to float pod are highly individual as well. So it is difficult — no, impossible — to say how float pod will affect any particular individual’s autism.
According to Autism Speaks, autism has two broad categories of core symptoms:
- social communication challenges
- restricted, repetitive behaviors.
These symptoms suggest autism when they interfere with daily living.
Autism from the Inside Out
Frankly, those symptoms seem to me to be more a reaction to autism than autism itself. They offer no description about how someone experiences autism.
WebMD quotes Stephen Shore, assistant professor at the School of Education at Adelphi University: “You could think of a person with autism as having an imbalanced set of senses. Some senses may be turned up too high and some turned down too low. As a result, the data that comes in tends to be distorted, and it’s very hard to perceive a person’s environment accurately.” Shore is himself autistic.
What Autism Is Like
You can find first-person accounts of autism all over the web. There is even a set of videos that shows something of what life is like from an autistic person’s point of view. The running theme in all these accounts is sensory overload. Every person experiences autism individually, but overwhelming sensory stimulation seems to be the most common characteristic of life with autism. And this is where the float pod has so much promise.
In the float pod, you are cut off from outside stimulation. You are in a soundproof, lightproof tank. Heavily salted water at near body temperature allows you to float, eliminating the pull of gravity on your body and reducing your self-awareness to almost nothing. Imagine spending 45 minutes without hearing a single car horn or telephone, without having to respond to anyone or anything. For neurotypicals, the resulting state of mental and physical relaxation is far beyond what non-floaters experience in a lifetime. I imagine it would be comparable for someone living with autism as well.
Float Pod for Autism
“Flotation REST in Applied Psychophysiology,” an article by Thomas Fine and Roderick Borrie, describes how flotation REST (an acronym for restricted environmental stimulation therapy) reduces blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension. These effects persist after the floating is finished. Furthermore, flotation REST causes a reduction in cortisol, the stress hormone. Research shows the cortisol reduction persists between sessions as well.
The persistence of therapeutic effects may not be limited to blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and cortisol reduction. I found a blog post on the web about floating and autism. The post cited many of the effects I have mentioned here, but what caught my eye was a responding comment made by someone who lives with autism: “I schedule one a month, wish I could afford to do it more frequently! It really helps relieve my stress and the therapeutic effects last for about a week.”
Our float pod can’t cure your autism. But it can give you a respite from it. A session each week might just improve your quality of life. Book a session and see for yourself.