Many of our children learn the alphabet soup of neurodevelopmental disorders such as; ADHD, ADD, SPD, ASD, PDD, ODD and many more before they learn to spell their own name. The prevalence of these disorders has reached epidemic levels. In fact, 1 in every 5 children in the United States will be diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder. Many parents ask the question, “why my child?” when they receive such a diagnosis, but in all reality the facts state that 6 other children in your child’s classroom have also received a diagnosis. Your child is not alone.
When I sit down with parents and discuss the struggles their child is currently going through, I commonly hear many of the same questions previous parents have asked me. If not medication, then what? Do medications even help? Is this caused by our parenting or our diet? Are we willing to risk medicating? What else can we do?
When I was little, my family and I would often go to the beach. I loved to run to the waters edge and look down a mile or so and watch the waves crash sequentially as far as I could see. As the years went by, we noticed the beach was becoming more inhabited with trash than it was with people. As the beach trips passed, I would continue to run to the waters edge, but more and more my attention would be focused on the trash rather than the crashing waves. I would often think of the long impossible hours and days it would take to clean it all up. On one of our subsequent visits to the beach, there was a noticeable difference. The white sand was visible, and there was little to no trash to be seen. At the beach entrances, there were larger trashcans and signs that alluded to the environmental problems with littering and how we all play a role in keeping the beach clean. Once the beach goers were informed that as a whole what they did had a large effect on the beach and the other visitors, the problem went away. If we left the problem up to a 7-year-old boy to try and labor over, the never-ending trash would continue to amass with no results to been seen. The beach goers were unaware that they were making such an impact over time.
The small band-aid approach of one boy trying to fix the problem never would have worked. Working to eliminate the CAUSE will always see the BEST results. Band-aid solutions waste energy, time, money and emotional capacity. Quite simply put, they just don’t cut it. Finding and eliminating the cause behind these disorders is imperative for a child to be healthy. Let’s take a closer look at the most prevalent of these disorders; ADD/HD.
Currently 1 in 7 boys will receive this diagnosis, and most of their parents will do as any parent would do and work to help their child function better. The options that are presented to these parents are limited to almost nothing besides medication. It is obvious that the cause of the child’s lack of focus, struggles in school, or their inability to sleep well is not due to a lack of Ritalin®, Concerta or Adderall in their bodies. These drugs are at best band-aid care to an ever-rising problem in our community.
The cause behind these spectrum disorders must be addressed and eliminated. The word spectrum is used to describe many of these disorders in this alphabet soup. The spectrum finds its origin from Sympathetic Spectrum or Fight or Flight spectrum. The child’s nervous system is responsible for every function in the body. It is our brain and nerve system that are running every aspect of our existence. In cases where this system is overwhelmed, a child’s body is compelled to run a fight or flight response.
Take for instance thousands of years ago the caveman down by the watering hole. As he drinks, the tiger approaches him. The man is immediately driven into his survival mode or Fight or Flight. Certain natural responses happen at that moment. His heart rate and blood pressure go up (run faster). Muscle tension goes up (stronger). Hormones are surging (feeling invincible), and his rest and sleep mechanisms are turned off (energy boost). These vital natural changes are what allow him to survive and in life threatening situations.
Now, take a moment and think about what would happen if your child’s fight or flight system were to turn on, and stay stuck in the ON position. This doesn’t sound so life saving anymore, does it? Who wants their child to have increased heart rate, high blood pressure, stress/tension, hormonal imbalances and no sleep?! Were you aware that during the fight or flight response that your child’s digestive system (colic/constipation), and immune system (ear infections, asthma, colds) diminish greatly? Think back to the caveman again. While he is surviving his encounter with the tiger, it is not high on the priority list to fight a cold or digest breakfast. I know you’re wondering how this caveman and tiger relate to your child’s health. If your child is struggling with a spectrum disorder, their body, and specifically their brain and nerve system are in disarray and stuck in survival mode. In this stress/survival mode, the brain is overwhelmed with many mixed messages. The child’s senses are over stimulated, and the survival mechanisms listed earlier are also engaged. The brain is unable to coordinate and make sense of the input all at one time. If a child remains in overdrive like this for an extended period of time, it is no wonder we see things such as ADD/HD, SPD, ASD and ODD.
As a Chiropractor that focuses on these types of challenges with children, I utilize cutting edge technology to safely and objectively measure the stress response your child is enduring. We look to pinpoint areas within the nerve system that are not functioning well, and I aid in eliminating the cause rather than covering up the symptoms. Chiropractic is not about bones as much as it is the brain and nerve system.
At Thriving Families Chiropractic, we work to create happy healthy families. Contact our Draper, Utah office to find out how we can help your family become a Thriving Family!
Dr. Nathan Wall
- Lisa Lovett, D.C. and Charles Blum, D.C. Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research ~ October 4, 2006 ~ Pages 1-6.
- Antoinette Young, DC. Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research ~ September 6, 2007 ~ Pages 1-4
- Blum CL, Cuthbert S, Williams S International Conference on Chiropractic Research. Vilamoura, Portugal – May 17-19, 2007: CM53.