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Treatment Plans for adults and children


Autism is not a disease in itself, but is a condition of Neuro-immune diversity that can become dysfunctional in relation to pervasiveness, severity, and environmental response. Therefore, it is possible to treat dysfunctions but not cure them.

It is difficult to generalize about therapies, and each therapy must be evaluated individually.

Autism is a broad spectrum of neuro-immune diversity conditions that belong to Neurodevelopmental Disorders, a group of disorders characterized by an onset in the developmental period (mainly within 5 years of age) and a variety of deficits in communication and social skills, learning, and executive function control.

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) often occur together with other disorders, for example:

Autism spectrum disorders have been recognized as disorders characterized by impaired neural connectivity. Nevertheless, in Italy only behavioral intervention is often the only approach and is not infrequently associated with the use of antipsychotic medication. Instead, at the Istituto di Neuroscienze we apply multimodal and multidisciplinary interventions based on scientific evidence and adapted to international standards.

Each treatment proposed by Dr. Pallanti is tailored to the individual needs of each patient and use Neuromodulation techniques (TMS, tDCS, Photo-Bio-Modulation), probiotics and prebiotics to increase neuroplasticity, reduce inflammation and facilitate the learning processes necessary to promote adaptive changes to improve the quality of life of our patients.

For this reason, the first assessment includes cutting-edge diagnostic tests and also the consideration of the immune profile and microbiome.

Diagnostic evaluations are performed by a team of specialists working at the Istituto di Neuroscienze on multiple disciplines. The team consists of professionals who are experienced in diagnosing, caring for individuals with autism spectrum disorder, and who all collaborate together in the design of a comprehensive and individualized treatment plan.

The link between autism, brain inflammation and the microbiome

There is strong scientific evidence to support the role that brain inflammation plays in all disorders affecting the central nervous system and especially those related to neurodevelopment. Not all individuals with an autism spectrum disorder show signs of an inflammatory state; however, in several cases signs of chronic brain inflammation can be observed associated with a reduction in the anti-inflammatory response: the goal of therapy is therefore aimed at restoring the situation within a normal range.

Another promising area of research regarding autism spectrum disorders concerns the potential role played by the gut microbiome. More and more scientific data show that people with an autism spectrum disorder have a different composition of the gut microbiome than the general population, being characterized by a higher prevalence of harmful bacteria and a lower presence of those beneficial to our health and proper development of the nervous system. These data suggest that such an imbalance may play a role in leading to an increased state of brain inflammation and, consequently, in the development and maintenance of autism spectrum disorder. For this reason, Diet Therapy is increasingly an integral part of treatment plans addressed to people with an Autism condition.

Autism Spectrum Disorders and ADHD

Although they are two different conditions, Autism Spectrum Disorders and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) represent Neurodevelopmental Disorders that may share some common symptoms, such as impairments in attention, concentration, and impulse control.

Unlike in the past, the DSM-5 introduced the possibility of diagnosing ADHD when an autism spectrum disorder is also present, given their frequent co-occurrence.

As the Attention Disorders are often a major obstacle to the involvement of the person with an autism spectrum disorder in rehabilitation activities, we have developed a specific program that prioritizes this symptom dimension and involves the integration of:

  • Interventions aimed at promoting the improvement of autonomy, communication skills and social skills;

  • Coaching interventions carried out to improve planning and organizational skills;

  • Interventions to reduce impulsivity and improve attentional skills.

Autism Spectrum Disorders and PANDAS

There is a condition frequently associated with Neurodevelopmental Disorders which is called PANS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome), caused by an immune reaction triggered by a group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus infection that affects the area of the brain where the basal ganglia are located. When the basal ganglia are damaged, certain behavioral symptoms including tics, obsessions and compulsions, and choreic movements can appear.

The connection between PANS/PANDAS and autism spectrum disorders represents a novel research area that aims to understand the factors underlying the association in order to develop targeted and effective interventions. Our clinical research team carefully studies the signs of the disorder and, if needed, provides the most effective treatment to fix the autoimmune response.

Neuromodulation Therapies for Autism

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) represents a non-invasive neuromodulation therapy that uses the magnetic field to stimulate or inhibit specific areas of the brain in order to modify their electrical activity and reduce symptoms by promoting neuronal plasticity processes. The most recent scientific evidence agrees on the effectiveness of TMS in people with an autism spectrum disorder. For this reason, at the Istituto di Neuroscienze, TMS is integrated into the treatment plans for people with Autism in order to maximize the effectiveness of the intervention offered.

Learn more ➜

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) uses weak electric currents that pass through the scalp going to enhance intra- and inter-hemispheric connectivity and allowing to stimulate or inhibit the neuronal activity of specific brain areas. Since Autism Spectrum Disorders have been recognized as disorders characterized by impaired neural connectivity, tDCS emerges as a tool with excellent treatment potential. Several scientific studies have shown that tDCS is associated with improvement in autistic symptoms, syntax acquisition, social cognition, and social interaction.

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New Therapies for Autism in Children

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) face numerous challenges due to deficits in social and communication functions associated with behavioral patterns that are often restricted and difficult to manage.
Currently, there are no pharmacological treatments that act on the core features of ASD, but recently there has been a growing interest in nonpharmacological therapies such as neuromodulation therapies carried out through Photo-Bio-Modulation technology.      
Our research group conducted a major study in this regard, showing very promising results.

Dr. Pallanti's Credentials

Dr. Stefano Pallanti is a member of the Advisory Council of ICare4Autism (International Center for Autism Research and Education ― New York, USA) and author of book chapters included in:

In addition, Dr. Pallanti has been Lecturer of the Level I Master's Degree "Percorsi nell'Autismo e disturbi pervasivi dello sviluppo dell'adulto", organized at the University of Florence in 2009-2010 in collaboration with: Società Italiana per lo Studio del Ritardo Mentale, Autismo Italia Onlus and Yale Child Study Center (Yale University).


  • Enticott, PG., Pallanti, S., Hollander, E., Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Non invasive Brain Stimulation, pp329 – 341, Autism Spectrum Disorders, American Psychiatric Publishing, 2018.

  • Pallanti, S., Di Ponzio, M., Grassi, E., Vannini, G., & Cauli, G. (2022). Transcranial Photobiomodulation for the Treatment of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): A Retrospective Study. Children9(5), 755. https://doi.org/10.3390/children9050755

  • Pallanti S, Lassi S, La Malfa G, Campigli M, Di Rubbo R, Paolini G, Cesarali V., Short report: Autistic gastrointestinal and eating symptoms treated with secretin: a subtype of autism, Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health. 2005 Nov 15;1:24.

  • Uzunova G, Pallanti S, Hollander E., Excitatory/inhibitory imbalance in autism spectrum disorder: Implications for interventions and therapeutics, World Journal of Biological Psychiatry, 2015;15:1-13.

Second Edition

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Recently published the 2nd Edition of the book "Textbook of Autism Spectrum Disorders". Dr. Stefano Pallanti contributed chapter 40 entitled "Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation", which discusses the use of TMS in autism spectrum disorders.