3 Cutting Edge Approaches for Treating Children with Special Needs
by Dr. Shelese Pratt ND @ Flatirons Naturopathic Clinic
Over the years I’ve had the honor of working with many challenging but rewarding complex neurological cases. In naturopathic medical school I learned how to tackle cases by looking at physiology and biochemistry. When you understand how the body is supposed to work it is easier to figure out how it goes rogue. I have been blessed to see even the most challenging genetic conditions and developmental delayed children gain function. Many therapies for special needs children are helpful but often fall short of helping them reach their true potential. Over the years I’ve found three modalities stand out in treating special needs children: Strategic nutrition based on biochemistry and epigenetics, Crossinology’s® Brain Integration Technique, and Anat Baniel Method.
Employing strategic nutrition based on biochemistry has improved several of my most difficult patient cases. Many patients need specialized diets. Some people require special diet plans based on what kind of flora they have growing in their intestines or food sensitivities/ allergies. I can help people discover if they need a low oxalate diet, low histamine diet, a Gluten Free/Casein Free diet, GAPs diet, Specific Carbohydrate Diet, or the Feingold diet. If you would like to learn more about these diets please see resource page on my website. Some people have specific food sensitivities that cause them to hold tension in parts of their bodies. For example, I’ve seen many children with motor problems have rigidity in their abdomen from certain foods. This pain and inflammation creates an inability to engage their core and this can impede their movement. I have also seen severe Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) cases where diary or gluten containing foods were the culprit in their focus and behavior problems. This was because they had gluteomorphin and caseomorphin reactions happening on their opiod receptors in their brain. As soon as we removed the foods that caused this reaction, the children no longer struggled with the symptoms of ADD.
Epigenetics is the study of genes and how we can express them the best way possible. By understanding gene mutations, also called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), you can hack into your genetics with nutrition (based in biochemistry) and change the way your genes are expressed. So that means, if you understand what nutritional cofactors are needed for a genetic enzyme and the things that inhibit or promote these specific biochemical pathways, you can improve your health.
Many people are starting to learn about methylation. Methylation is one of the most famous biochemical pathways in epigenetics. Some of you may have heard of MTHFR. This enzyme is responsible for directing the following in the cells of your body: Genetic expression and repair of the DNA; Inflammation response; Detoxification of hormones, chemicals, and heavy metals; Production and recycling of the most important anti-oxidant in the body called glutathione; Neurotransmitter formation and breakdown to determine our brain chemistry; Energy production and mitochondrial health; Immune response to fight infections.
MTHFR is pretty important! Many of the children I see for motor problems are lacking the nutrients needed for healthy methylation and mitochondrial function. I’ve seen dramatic results in my practice when specific nutrients are given to children who have motor impairments or cognitive challenges. They can sit, crawl, walk, improve both receptive and expressive language and have an increase in cognition with proper epigenetic counseling. To learn more about the mitochondria you can check out my blog. You can also learn more about methylation by reading my MTHFR blog. Imagine the possibilities for us when we can alter our genes and make them express the best way possible for our health.
Crossinology’s® Brain Integration Therapy (BIT) is another unique tool I use in my practice for children and adults with learning problems and special needs children. Over the last 10 years I have helped thousands of people with a variety of neurological conditions. This technique can organize the brain to work more efficiently and increase blood flow to the frontal lobe. This treatment is designed for many kinds of learning difficulties; attention deficit disorder (ADD and ADHD), dyslexia, auditory processing disorders, visual processing disorders, and executive functioning problems. I have also had success treating sensory processing disorders, poor coordination, closed head traumas and traumatic brain injuries (TBI), autistic spectrum disorders (ASD), cerebral palsy (CP), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and genetic conditions like Angelman’s Syndrome. BIT enhances learning abilities and improves integration. To learn more about BIT please see the information on my FAQ page for BIT on my website.
Specific nutrition and BIT are wonderful modalities but adding Anat Baniel’s work can make amazing changes for neuroplasticity in movement and cognition. The Anat Baniel Method® (ABM) is a cutting- edge, science that is based in her method NeuroMovement® approach that transforms the lives of children and adults, helping them move beyond pain and limitation. By accessing the amazing power of the brain to change itself, the method helps people discover how to improve the mind and body dramatically enhancing physical, cognitive, emotional, and creative performance. Different from other rehabilitation, fitness practices, and approaches to help children with special needs in their development being done today, the Anat Baniel Method involves a significant shift in the way we think of ourselves as human beings, replacing the traditional model of people as a mechanical system with the view of people as an intelligence, information-based system moderated by the brain.
It has been humbling to see what the synergy of these three methods offer special needs children. I feel so privileged to witness children surpassing the expectations that were put on them because of their diagnosis. I am truly blessed to work with so many wonderful Anat Baniel Method practitioners and see the amazing work we can accomplish together. If you know a family looking for answers for their child, please pass on this information to them. To learn more about ABM work you can also contact Marcy Lindheimer and Colorado Learning through Movement.