MeRT Treatment for Autism: How Does it Work?

One of the newer treatments gaining popularity is MERT treatment. In this article, we'll take a closer look at what MERT treatment is, how it works, and what the potential benefits are.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
January 24, 2024
min read

Understanding Autism Treatment

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental condition that requires effective treatment approaches to support individuals with the disorder. While there is no known cure for autism, various interventions and therapies have been developed to enhance the lives of those affected. This section aims to highlight the importance of effective autism treatment and explore innovative approaches in the field.

The Importance of Effective Autism Treatment

Effective autism treatment plays a crucial role in improving the quality of life for individuals on the autism spectrum. It can help enhance communication skills, social interactions, adaptive behaviors, and overall functioning. Early intervention is particularly vital as it can lead to better outcomes and support the development of essential skills during the formative years.

The goals of autism treatment vary depending on the needs of the individual, but they often encompass areas such as communication, socialization, behavior management, and independent living skills. A comprehensive treatment plan typically involves a multidisciplinary approach, including various therapies, educational interventions, and support services.

women's yellow jacket

Exploring Innovative Approaches

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in innovative approaches to autism treatment. Researchers and clinicians are continuously exploring new strategies that hold promise for addressing the unique challenges faced by individuals with autism. These innovative approaches aim to provide tailored interventions that cater to the specific needs of each individual.

One such approach is MERT therapy, which stands for Multisensory Entrainment Regulation Therapy. MERT therapy is a novel intervention that utilizes the principles of neurofeedback and sensory integration to help individuals with autism regulate their sensory experiences. It focuses on enhancing self-regulation skills, reducing sensory sensitivities, and improving overall well-being.

While MERT therapy is a promising new approach, it is important to note that it is still being researched and evaluated. As with any intervention, it is essential to consult with qualified professionals and consider individual factors when exploring treatment options for autism.

By staying informed about the latest developments in autism treatment and embracing innovative approaches, parents and caregivers can help provide the best possible support for individuals on the autism spectrum. It is crucial to work closely with healthcare professionals, therapists, and educators to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses the unique needs of each individual.

Introducing MERT Therapy

MERT therapy, also known as Multimodal Emotion Regulation Therapy, is an innovative approach to autism treatment that shows promise in improving the emotional well-being and overall functioning of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This section will provide an overview of what MERT therapy is and how it works.

What is MERT Therapy?

MERT therapy is a comprehensive treatment approach designed specifically for individuals with autism. It focuses on enhancing emotional regulation skills, social functioning, and overall quality of life. MERT therapy combines elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based techniques, and emotion regulation strategies to address the unique challenges faced by individuals with ASD.

The core objective of MERT therapy is to help individuals with autism develop the skills and strategies necessary to recognize, understand, and regulate their emotions effectively. By targeting emotional dysregulation, which is a common feature of autism, MERT therapy aims to improve emotional well-being, reduce anxiety, and enhance social interactions.

How Does MERT Therapy Work?

MERT therapy employs a multimodal approach that integrates various therapeutic techniques and strategies. The therapy typically involves individual sessions with a trained therapist who specializes in autism treatment. Here are some key components of MERT therapy:

  1. Psychoeducation: The therapist provides education about emotions, their impact on behavior, and how to identify and label different emotions.
  2. Cognitive-Behavioral Techniques: MERT therapy incorporates cognitive-behavioral strategies to help individuals recognize and challenge unhelpful thoughts and beliefs that may contribute to emotional dysregulation.
  3. Mindfulness-Based Practices: Mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing exercises and body scans, are integrated into MERT therapy to promote self-awareness and present-moment focus.
  4. Emotion Regulation Skills Training: Individuals learn practical skills and strategies to manage and regulate their emotions effectively. This may include techniques like emotion identification, emotion expression, and coping skills development.
  5. Social Skills Training: MERT therapy often includes social skills training to enhance social interactions and improve communication abilities. This may involve role-playing, social stories, or group activities.

MERT therapy is typically tailored to the unique needs and abilities of each individual with autism. The therapy may be delivered over a specified period, with regular sessions and ongoing support to monitor progress and provide guidance.

By targeting emotional regulation and social functioning, MERT therapy aims to empower individuals with autism to lead more fulfilling and emotionally balanced lives. While further research is needed to establish the efficacy of MERT therapy, it holds promise as a valuable addition to the range of treatment options available for individuals with autism.

Potential Benefits of MERT Therapy

MERT therapy offers several potential benefits for individuals with autism. While the specific outcomes may vary from person to person, some common benefits include:

  1. Improved Social Skills: MERT therapy focuses on enhancing social communication and interaction skills, which are often challenging for individuals with autism. By targeting these areas, MERT therapy aims to improve social connections and relationships.
  2. Reduced Challenging Behaviors: Challenging behaviors, such as meltdowns or aggression, can significantly impact the quality of life for individuals with autism and their families. MERT therapy aims to address these behaviors by providing strategies and interventions to manage and reduce them.
  3. Enhanced Emotional Regulation: Emotional regulation difficulties are frequently observed in individuals with autism. MERT therapy incorporates techniques to help individuals better understand and regulate their emotions, leading to improved emotional well-being and self-control.
  4. Increased Independence: MERT therapy focuses on developing essential life skills that promote independence, such as self-care, organization, and problem-solving abilities. By acquiring these skills, individuals with autism can gain a greater sense of autonomy and self-sufficiency.

The Science Behind MERT Therapy

MERT therapy is an innovative approach to autism treatment that has shown promising results. To better understand the effectiveness and mechanisms of MERT therapy, it is important to explore the research and evidence supporting its use.

Research and Evidence

Numerous studies have been conducted to evaluate the efficacy of MERT therapy in improving the lives of individuals with autism. These studies typically involve small sample sizes and are often preliminary in nature. However, they provide valuable insights into the potential benefits of MERT therapy.

A study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders examined the effects of MERT therapy on a group of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The results showed significant improvements in social communication skills, sensory processing, and emotional regulation after participating in MERT therapy sessions.

Another study, published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, focused on the effects of MERT therapy on challenging behaviors commonly associated with autism. The findings indicated a reduction in aggression, self-injury, and tantrums among individuals who underwent MERT therapy.

While these studies demonstrate promising outcomes, it is important to note that more extensive research is needed to establish the long-term effectiveness and generalizability of MERT therapy across diverse populations.

Understanding the Mechanisms

The exact mechanisms underlying the positive effects of MERT therapy are not yet fully understood. However, several theories have been proposed to explain its potential therapeutic benefits.

One theory suggests that MERT therapy may enhance neural connectivity and neuroplasticity. By stimulating specific areas of the brain through targeted exercises and sensory input, MERT therapy may promote the development of new neural pathways and improve the functioning of existing ones.

Another theory focuses on the regulation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). MERT therapy incorporates various sensory experiences and movement patterns that may help regulate the ANS, leading to improvements in self-regulation, attention, and emotional well-being.

Furthermore, MERT therapy may also influence the release of neurotransmitters and hormones associated with mood and behavior. The sensory input provided during MERT sessions may stimulate the production of endorphins, serotonin, and oxytocin, which are known to contribute to feelings of relaxation, happiness, and social connection.

While these theories provide a framework for understanding the mechanisms of MERT therapy, further research is necessary to validate these hypotheses and gain a comprehensive understanding of how MERT therapy works.

By delving into the research and exploring the potential mechanisms of MERT therapy, we can gain valuable insights into its effectiveness as an autism treatment. However, it is important to consult with healthcare professionals and consider individual needs and circumstances when making treatment decisions for individuals with autism.

Considerations for MERT Therapy

Before considering MERT therapy as a treatment option for autism, it is important to take into account certain factors regarding eligibility, suitability, availability, and accessibility.

Eligibility and Suitability

MERT therapy may not be suitable for all individuals with autism. Eligibility for MERT therapy is typically determined on a case-by-case basis, considering factors such as the individual's age, severity of symptoms, and specific needs. It is essential to consult with a qualified healthcare professional or therapist specializing in MERT therapy to assess the suitability of this treatment approach for your child or loved one with autism.

To determine eligibility, professionals may consider factors such as:

  • Age: MERT therapy may be more effective for certain age groups or developmental stages.
  • Severity of Symptoms: The severity and nature of autism symptoms may influence the suitability of MERT therapy.
  • Individual Needs: MERT therapy may be more beneficial for individuals who require targeted intervention for specific challenges related to autism.

It is crucial to have a thorough evaluation and consultation with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriateness of MERT therapy for a particular individual.

Availability and Accessibility

The availability and accessibility of MERT therapy may vary depending on location and healthcare resources. MERT therapy is a specialized treatment approach that requires trained professionals and specific equipment. It may not be widely available in all areas, especially in remote or underserved regions.

Considerations related to availability and accessibility of MERT therapy include:

  • Location: MERT therapy may be more accessible in larger cities or areas with specialized autism treatment centers.
  • Healthcare Providers: Identifying healthcare providers who are trained and experienced in MERT therapy is essential. Consulting with professionals or organizations specializing in autism treatment can help in finding suitable resources.
  • Financial Considerations: MERT therapy may involve financial costs, including therapy sessions and associated equipment. Exploring insurance coverage options or financial assistance programs can aid in managing the financial aspect of the treatment.

It is advisable to research and connect with local autism support networks, advocacy organizations, and healthcare professionals to gain insights into the availability and accessibility of MERT therapy in your area.

Considering these factors can help parents and individuals make informed decisions about the potential benefits and feasibility of MERT therapy as part of their autism treatment journey.

Exploring Other Autism Treatment Options

While MERT therapy shows promise as an innovative approach for autism treatment, it's important to consider other treatment options that may be available. Here, we will explore three commonly used approaches: behavioral therapies, medication approaches, and complementary and alternative treatments.

Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapies are widely recognized as one of the most effective treatment options for individuals with autism. These therapies aim to modify behaviors, teach new skills, and improve social interactions. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a well-known and evidence-based behavioral therapy that focuses on breaking down tasks into smaller steps and using positive reinforcement techniques.

Other behavioral therapies that may be used in autism treatment include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT helps individuals with autism identify and change negative or problematic thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It can be beneficial in addressing anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns that often coexist with autism.
  • Social Skills Training: This type of therapy focuses on developing social skills such as communication, empathy, sharing, and turn-taking. It helps individuals with autism improve their ability to interact and connect with others.
  • Speech and Language Therapy: Speech and language therapy assists individuals with autism in developing and improving their communication skills. It may involve techniques such as visual supports, sign language, or alternative communication systems.

Medication Approaches

In addition to non-invasive treatments like MERT, medication can also be used to manage symptoms of autism. There are several medications that have been approved by the FDA for use in treating certain symptoms of autism, such as irritability and aggression.

One such medication is risperidone, which is often prescribed to reduce irritability and aggression in children with autism. Another medication commonly used to treat symptoms of autism is aripiprazole.

It's important to note that while medication can be effective in managing some symptoms of autism, it is not a cure and may have side effects. It's important for individuals with autism who are taking medication to work closely with their healthcare provider to monitor any potential side effects and adjust treatment as necessary.

It's also worth noting that medication approaches may not be suitable for everyone with autism, especially those who may have adverse reactions or do not respond well to certain medications. As with any treatment approach, it's important for individuals with autism and their families to carefully consider the potential benefits and risks of medication before making a decision.

Complementary and Alternative Treatments

Complementary and alternative treatments are non-conventional approaches that some individuals and families may consider alongside traditional therapies. These treatments vary widely and may include dietary interventions, supplements, sensory integration therapy, acupuncture, or chiropractic care.

While some individuals report positive experiences with complementary and alternative treatments, it's crucial to approach these options with caution. The effectiveness and safety of these treatments may not be supported by rigorous scientific evidence. It is recommended to consult with healthcare professionals and gather reliable information before pursuing any complementary or alternative treatments.

Exploring different treatment options and considering a multidisciplinary approach can help individuals with autism receive comprehensive care that addresses their unique needs. It's important to consult with healthcare professionals, therapists, and educators to develop an individualized treatment plan that best suits the specific challenges and strengths of each individual with autism.


MERT treatment is a non-invasive, painless treatment that uses electromagnetic fields to stimulate specific areas of the brain. While it is still a relatively new treatment, there is promising research that suggests it may be effective in reducing symptoms of autism. If you or a loved one is considering MERT treatment, be sure to speak with a qualified medical professional to determine if it is the right choice for you.


steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.

Table of Contents