What’s happening to our children?

October 24, 2014
This is the final blog in our series, "What's happening to our children?", when 1 in 6 has a developmental disability.  I have currently covered some of the major areas (dairy, gluten, additives/preservatives, chemicals, and vaccines) that I have seen that impact our children's ability to function as they should.  If you have a child, even if they are neuro-typical, I suggest you consider the possibility that the foods we eat and the chemicals we are exposed to may have an impact on neurological functioning (Autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder are all neurologically based).  

Allergies & intolerances

I have worked with kids for the past 18 + years in some capacity or another.  I have taken numerous trainings and have worked (and continue to work with) with some of the best OT's, PT's, and ST's that have ever practiced.  I know, from personal and professional experience, when you take a holistic approach to finding health and promoting independence for our children, that this piece is the missing link as to "What's happening to our children".  

Rather than restate what I have said in past blogs, I'd like to share a story about one of my current clients.  I've been working with this little girl for about 9 months now.  She started with speech, as she had severe tantrums and no form of functional communication.  I was brought on to address the sensory and motor concerns that were noted by the speech therapist and mom.  No doubt, she does have sensory issues, she has had ongoing reflux for which she has been medicated on-and-off her entire life.  She has had ear infections, food aversions, and sleep issues since birth.  Her motor planning and problem solving skills are severely impaired.  This little girl and her mom have been to doctors, specialists, neurologists, you name it, trying to find answers as to why she is the way she is.

Right off the bat, the speech therapist and I suspected food sensitivities were contributing to her behaviors and lack of developmental skills.  We had discussed our suspicions on and off since we started seeing her.  As with most parents (including myself), she listened to her pediatrician when she said the reflux medication would prevent her from reacting to any food sensitivity (as an infant they did identify she had  dairy allergy), so the doctor said not to worry about what she was eating.  As long as she is growing and following her growth curve all is well.  Here's some melatonin for the sleep issues.  

Tantrums are a form of communication.

When I started with this little girl, she was challenging.  She literally could scream for the entire session if demands were placed on her that she either knew she couldn't do, or wouldn't do.  Her ability to move was so difficult, and if she bent down or tipped her head she would lose her balance.  When frustrated she would bang her head repeatedly on anything (including the hardwood floor).  Initially, I treaded lightly.  I used a variety of approaches (floor time, ABA strategies, pairing, letting her lead, etc.)  I'm not a very patient person for those of you that know me, so this was challenging for me.  I know what needs to be done, I know how to do it, and I want to get there.  With her mom's permission, I took a more direct /aggressive approach.  Low and behold it worked!  However, it was so hit-and-miss that I never knew what to expect from one session to the next.  We would take one step forward and four steps back.  

We suspected she may be sick ( observations only, as this little one has a very high pain tolerance) so mom took her in for a check-up.  During the visit, my little friend went right into the "fight, flight, or fright" mode.  She wasn't taking any prisoners and she was extremely fearful of this situation.  She ended up kicking the doctor (when you are in that mode, all is fair).  The doctor had enough.  She suggested to the mom that she take this little girl (2 1/2 year old) to a psychiatrist and get her put on medication.  I think at this point (although I never asked her directly) mom realized she was on her own.  Home based Early Intervention services were implemented, and I am lucky enough to know one of the providers in the home.  Mom was ready to try anything.  She was hearing the same thing (food sensitivities) from her home based therapists that she was hearing from me and our speech therapist.

Fast forward 12 days ago.  Dairy was removed from her diet.  I saw this little girl this week.  Guess what?  She spontaneously said 13 words and repeated everything.  She was able to answer questions such as "what's that",  and fill in the blank when I said, "I see a ____", It's a ______.  Her motor sequencing skills were better, She seemed more coordinated, willing to try new activities, she even requested 2 different activities using gestures and vocalizations. And most importantly, she was happy!  She laughed, she played, she acted silly, she gave me a big hug, and even held my hand (albeit briefly).  This is not even 2 full weeks without dairy.  This little angel has ben sick, medically sick, from the foods she's been eating.

I asked her mom this morning if I could share her story.  Her mom's response was, "If it can help someone else, go for it".  This little girl is so lucky to have the mom that she has!  She went the usual, mainstream medicine route, trying everything they suggested, and this got her nowhere.  This mom meant what she said, when she said, "Ill do anything!"  There are a lot of families out there who say this, but don't always follow through with it.  No judgment here, it is a lifestyle change, and makes us think of things in a whole new light.  Like I said before, this little one is lucky!  
The earlier we are able to identify the food, environmental triggers or chemical sensitivities, the better off these kids are.  But it's never too late.  It just may take longer to heal the gut.  Not only can this little girls gut heal (remember the gut-brain connection), but she is at a pivotal point in her development where we can make the most change!  I literally have tears in my eyes as I write this.  I know we are going to get this little one where she needs to be.  It's working for her and I've seen it work for countless others.  

Please take the time to research the information I have shared with you.  Make an informed decision.  If you don't like the answer your getting from your doctor, school, or therapist, it's time to consider other alternatives.  This IS the piece of the puzzle as to "What is happening to our children".
185 S. Marley Rd. New Lenox, IL 60451