Autism, a complex neurodevelopmental disorder, affects millions of children worldwide, challenging their communication, social interaction, and behavior. For years, parents and researchers have sought effective treatments to improve the lives of these children. In this quest, a groundbreaking study has emerged, shedding new light on the potential benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).

The Backstory

Traditionally used for various medical conditions, hyperbaric treatment involves inhaling oxygen in a pressurized chamber. Recent years have seen growing interest in its application for autism, with some promising results reported. However, up until now, a controlled study evaluating its effectiveness had not been conducted.

The Study

A multicenter, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial was undertaken to assess the impact of hyperbaric treatment on children with autism. A total of 62 children aged 2 to 7 years were recruited from six centers. They were randomly assigned to receive 40 hourly sessions of hyperbaric treatment at 1.3 atmospheres and 24% oxygen (the treatment group) or slightly pressurized room air at 1.03 atmospheres and 21% oxygen (the control group).

Children with autism who received hyperbarics treatment at 1.3 atm and 24% oxygen for 40 hourly sessions had significant improvements in overall functioning, receptive language, social interaction, eye contact, and sensory/cognitive awareness compared to children who received slightly pressurized room air.

The Findings

The results of this groundbreaking study offer hope and optimism:

  • Improved Overall Functioning: Children in the treatment group showed significant improvements in overall functioning compared to the control group.
  • Enhanced Receptive Language: Receptive language skills saw remarkable progress in the treatment group, suggesting an exciting avenue for improvement in communication.
  • Better Social Interaction: The treatment group exhibited encouraging developments in social interaction, fostering improved connections with others.
  • Eye Contact: Maintaining eye contact, a fundamental social skill, significantly improved among children in the treatment group.
  • Sensory/Cognitive Awareness: This critical aspect of cognitive development also experienced substantial enhancement in the treatment group.

Furthermore, the study noted that children over the age of 5 and those with lower initial autism severity seemed to benefit the most from hyperbaric treatment.


Parents considering hyperbaric treatment for their children with autism can find solace in the fact that it’s a safe option with the potential to enhance various aspects of their child’s life.

As we await more research and investigations into hyperbaric therapy, this study ignites a spark of hope. It reminds us that, even in the face of complex challenges, science and innovation continue to unlock new avenues for understanding and improving the human condition.

The journey towards effective autism treatment is ongoing, and studies like this illuminate the path forward. With determination and continued exploration, we may discover even more promising therapies that can empower individuals with autism to lead fulfilling lives filled with communication, connection, and boundless potential.


Rossignol, A. (2009, September 21). Hyperbaric treatment for children with autism: a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial. National Library of Medicine.