This is how you can support symptoms of Autism, Focus issues, Hyperactivity or Behavior.

If you are reading this, you are likely a parent or a practitioner working in deep muddy waters to heal and support your child’s autism related symptoms, cure her eczema, heal his digestive issues, address her aggression, or modulate his hyperactivity.

Regardless of your journey, perhaps you are frustrated with different approaches, diametrically opposite schools of thought, and simply of the relentless work it seems to take to achieve just normal health.

I have something to say to you, something that is a learning that I have assimilated over years.

Healing is multi-modal and takes approaching from many directions.

Healing is NOT linear. We don’t go step by step to a path to health.

We converge upon it from many directions, and find our equilibrium.

This process of Healing that leads to Optimal Performance is in my mental model, a pyramid (I am wondering if it should be a cone since I said circular, but we will address geometry later).

The 3 layers of this pyramid are:

  1. Functional Health [Nutrition and optimal System Function]
  2. Movement
  3. Respect
3-Step Pyramid for Optimal Health

STEP 1. FUNCTIONAL NUTRITION AND HEALTH

  1. Functional Health means that you have organ systems functioning optimally and in cohesion. It means that your immune system is not attacking itself (most childhood epidemics including eczema [1], autism related neurological symptoms [2], allergies are either autoimmune in nature or include immune dysfunction).
  2. Functional Health is dependent on a fully competent digestive system. This means that:
    • Your child can digest and fully breakdown everything they eat
    • They can absorb these nutrients
    • They can metabolize these nutrients for different processes including energy generation.
  3. This means that you have corrected nutrient deficiencies. For example, a lack in the group of B-Vitamins can cause your neurotransmitters to be off-balance, liver detox pathways to be sluggish, fatigue, lack of focus, impaired fat and carbohydrate metabolism and your sleep to be disrupted!
  4. It means a diverse but balanced microbiome, which is one of the most complex challenges in helping an Autistic child. [3]
  5. It means mitochondria (energy producing organelles) that are not in emergency mode or fatigued. [4]
  6. It means both a brain and a gut without inflammation. [5]

STEP 2. MOVEMENT

Movement based interventions such as Feldenkrais, Anat Baniel Method, Reflex Integration, Rhythmic Movement and Yoga all use small or large precise movements to effect changes in neural pathways.

There is anecdotal and published information that these small changes can result in children developing skills from depth perception to vision, from a more regulated behavior to a better coordination between brain and body. [6]

Movement therapies are unique in that they have a direct line to the brain in forming different ways of moving and thinking. Nutrition/biomedical interventions help heal the gut, reduce inflammation, balance hormones and neurotransmitters, thus reducing neuroinflammation and helping focus/anxiety/seizures/allergies etc.

What Movement does is provide rich information to the healing brain.


To heal without providing new information to affect change is often not enough.

 

 

 


3. RESPECT / EQUAL EDUCATION

All the nutrition and movement in the world is useless if the child isn’t treated with respect.

What is Respect?

  • Acknowledging that behavior is most often communication
  • Equal opportunities of education
  • Enabling the child to have a complete communication system
  • RESPECTING THE INTERESTS OF THE CHILD
  • Remembering that Not Speaking is NOT the same as Not Thinking!
  • ASSUMING COMPETENCE regardless of external manifestation.

This is often not an intuitive context, and for those who would like a little nudge, I would refer you to my TEDx talk. [7]

For the non-speaking Autistic child (or a child with other disabilities), some techniques that I have found to be both respectful and deeply impactful are RPM, S2C and some AAC. Remember that a child’s access to alternative communication often depends on 3 factors (at least):

  1. Vision
  2. Motor Skills
  3. Regulation of the Body

If your child is deficient in any of the above 3, do not let any practitioner tell you that your child is not ready for AAC. It may be that AAC is not ready for your child.

If your child has impaired motor skills, it is the role of the AAC device to be able to be adapted to your child, not the other way around.

That is the equilateral triangle for children. This is the triangular (3-faced) pyramid. The 3-step model for Optimal Health.

Do remember that Optimal does not mean Neurotypical.

  • Functional Health without Movement is a beautiful classroom without a teacher.
  • Movement without Assuming Competence and Respect is inhumane.
  • Respect without Nutritional intervention (Functional Health) is setting the child up for failure. An inflamed brain or body is often not in the optimal state to receive and implement.

REFERENCES:

  1. The Multimodal Immune Pathogenesis of Atopic Eczema: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1471490615002513
  2. The Role of Immune Dysfunction in the pathophysiology of Autism: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159111004922
  3. Autism and the Microbiome
  4. https://health.ucsd.edu/news/releases/Pages/2018-09-07-chronic-diseases-driven-by-metabolic-dysfunction.aspx
  5. Inflammation in Children
  6. The Autism Revolution by Martha Herbert
  7. TEDx talk

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