Hyperbaric chamber

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Autism: Exploring Promising Treatment Options

Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a complex neuro-developmental disorder, affecting millions of individuals worldwide. Autism is a lifelong condition, however, early intervention using various treatments and therapies helps to alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life for individuals on the autism spectrum.


Due to the complex nature of autism spectrum disorder and the various factors that contribute to its development, there are multiple treatment options that have been suggested.

Parents/Guardians of children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder have expressed interest in alternative therapies to help improve their children's condition.

One such therapy that has been gaining attention is hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).

In this article, we will delve into the potential benefits of oxygen therapy for autism, while also exploring current evidence surrounding this treatment option.

 Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Autsim


Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Autism: examining the evidence

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is a newly emerging therapy for autism, involving breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber, which increases the oxygen concentration in the body.

It has been suggested that hyperbaric oxygen therapy could potentially benefit children with autism by increasing blood flow to the brain during treatment. This is because inhaling oxygen at higher pressures than atmospheric levels can raise the amount of oxygen delivered to the brain.

Additionally, treatment with hyperbaric oxygen may have anti-inflammatory effects by reducing the levels of pro-inflammatory molecules such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interferon-gamma, and interleukins 1 and 6.2 Moreover,hyperbaric oxygen might improve mitochondrial dysfunction and enhance the production of antioxidant enzymes.

This therapy can potentially reduce inflammation, promote tissue healing, and enhance neurological function, potentially improving autistic symptoms.2

Although scientific research on the efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen autism therapy is still evolving, anecdotal reports and testimonials from parents and caregivers of autistic individuals suggest some positive outcomes.

Some of the reported benefits include reduced repetitive behaviors and sensory sensitivities, improved speech and language skills, enhanced social interaction, as well as overall well-being in autistic individuals.

Several studies, including case series3,4 and open-label studies 5,6 have examined the effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on children who have Autism spectrum disorder, although these studies did not include control groups for comparison. In one multicentre study conducted in 2006, a statistically significant improvement relating to clinical symptoms, was observed among six autistic children aged 2 to 7, based on parent ratings, after undergoing 40 sessions of HBOT lasting one hour each.3

The researchers found improvements in social interaction, eye contact, sensory and cognitive awareness, and overall behavior in the children who received hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

In another case series study which involved seven Thai children with autism, aged 5 to 9, it was discovered that approximately three-quarters of the participants showed improvements in various evaluated domains. The domains included social development, gross and fine motor skills, language development, and self-help skills.4

These improvements were noted following ten sessions of hyperbaric oxygen treatments.

Systematic reviews of randomised control trials (RCTs) are typically regarded as very high quality evidence, overcoming many limitations of other types of research studies, in particular by incorporating control groups. In one such review, by Ghanizadeh7, there was no statistically significant improvement found in the “Social Responsiveness Scale” rating among autistic children who had received hyperbaric oxygen treatment, compared to the control group in one of the trials.

However, in contrast, in a second multicentre RCT conducted in the United States8, the group of children who received hyperbaric oxygen therapy showed significant improvements compared to the control group, as assessed by both physicians and parents using the Clinical Global Impression (CGI) scores. The improvements were observed in various areas, including overall receptive language, functioning, eye contact, and social interaction.

In the Hyperbaric oxygen treatment group, 30% of children were rated to be "very much improved" or "much improved" following therapy, whereas only 8% of those in the control group received similar ratings8.

Also, significant improvements in behavior were observed in the treatment arm when comparing pre-treatment and post-treatment assessments using the “Aberrant Behavior Checklist”. Specifically, statistically significant improvements were observed in the total score, stereotypy, irritability, hyperactivity, and speech categories among those treated with hyperbaric oxygen8. However, these improvements were not significant in the control group.

Although these studies highlight positive outcomes, more extensive research is needed to establish a conclusive link between oxygen therapy and autism and the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a standard autism treatment.


Maximizing the Potential of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Autism is a highly individualized disorder, with each person exhibiting unique strengths, challenges, and treatment needs.

Consequently, a tailored treatment plan, created in collaboration with healthcare professionals experienced in treating autism spectrum disorders, is vital.

Seeking guidance from pediatricians, neurologists, or autism specialists is crucial to ensure the most appropriate interventions for each individual. 

Here are a few factors to consider when exploring hyperbaric oxygen treatment as an option:

Consultation: Begin by consulting healthcare professionals knowledgeable about autism and hyperbaric oxygen treatment.


Autsim treatments


Contact Healing The Hyperbaric Way for a recommended healthcare provider that can write you a prescription and monitor you or the patient throughout the course of your hyperbaric treatments. They can assess the individual's unique needs, evaluate the potential benefits, and address any concerns.

Comprehensive Approach: hyperbaric oxygen therapy should not be viewed as a standalone treatment. It should be incorporated into a comprehensive treatment plan that includes other evidence-based interventions such as behavioral therapies, educational support, and medications if necessary.

Treatment Duration: The duration and frequency of hyperbaric oxygen therapy sessions may vary based on the individual's needs. Healthcare professionals can provide guidance on the optimal hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment schedule.

Regular Evaluation: Regularly assess the individual's progress to determine need to modify treatment.


 This article is written by Dr. Callista Chinenye Emecheta a Medical Doctor and a Public Health Scholar at the University of ​Northampton, England. 




  1.  American Psychiatric Association . Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association; 2013.
  2. Bent S, Bertoglio K, Ashwood P, Nemeth E, Hendren RL. Brief report: hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) in children with autism spectrum disorder: a clinical trial. J Autism Dev Disord. 2012;42(6):1127–32.
  3. Rossignol DA, Rossignol LW. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may improve symptoms in autistic children. Med Hypotheses. 2006;67(2):216–28. Epub 2006 Mar 22
  4. Lerman DC, Sansbury T, Hovanetz A, Wolever E, Garcia A, O’Brien E, et al. Using behavior analysis to examine the outcomes of unproven therapies: an evaluation of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for children with autism. Behav Anal Pract. 2008;1(2):50–8.
  5. Jepson B, Granpeesheh D, Tarbox J, Olive ML, Stott C, Braud S, et al. Controlled evaluation of the effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on the behavior of 16 children with autism spectrum disorders. J Autism Dev Disord. 2011;41(5):575–88.
  6. Bent S, Bertoglio K, Ashwood P, Nemeth E, Hendren RL. Brief report: hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) in children with autism spectrum disorder: a clinical trial. J Autism Dev Disord. 2012;42(6):1127–32.
  7. Ghanizadeh A. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for treatment of children with autism: a systematic review of randomized trials. Med Gas Res 2012;2:13
  8. Granpeesheh D, Tarbox J, Dixon DR, Wilke AE, Allen MS, Bradstreet JJ. Randomized trial of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for children with autism. Res Autism Spectr Disord 2010;4:268-75.