“When will Kelly start talking?” The question hit me like a ton of bricks. Kelly now a 6 year old had been under care for the last year and a half. Mom and dad received her Autism diagnosis at 3, and like so many other parents, started searching for anything and everything that could help.
Through a friend's invite they attended the Perfect Storm workshop and started care the next week. Much of her sensory, behavior and sleep challenges were incredibly improved. She’s been able to thrive in her therapies, with her siblings and in school...but that final goal on her intake hadn't been met. Speech. What do I say? How do I say it? I thought to myself. What is mom going to accept, how do I encourage, and also be realistic?
Kelly’s mom had been to all our workshops and we had a great connection talking during each adjustment and at each progress checkpoint. We’d had great conversations on the way the body heals, and the phases the nervous system goes through adapting and changing to get into growth and development mode. We even talked through the lens Chiropractic plays in healing...that we do not “treat” the symptoms. We help the body adapt, change and we fully believe that the body is capable of self-healing and developing when the nervous system is communicating well...but in this moment I sensed that more philosophy or science wouldn’t do, this mom deserved a real answer. I finally settled on what I was nervous to say because 11 years ago I had a similar question.
My son Micah was diagnosed at 4 hours old with Agenesis of the Corpus Collosum. We found this out from a staff Neurologist late at night in our hospital room. Following that gut wrenching news, I watched Micah endure an MRI, screaming and strapped down away from mom or I being able to comfort him. Crystal and I were both already completely exhausted after an emergency c-section, the NICU lights, all the chaos and now this. But this shock wasn’t going away, ever. Like any parent given a diagnosis, we researched, scheduled and tested to see how far Micah would and could go. After a ridiculous number of referrals and appointments we ended up in the office of Dr. Grey, the “Top Pediatric Neuro, diplomate, (insert 10 more titles here)! Needless to say, he was hard to get an appointment with and we were excited to hear what he had to say.
Dr. Grey spent 5 minutes examining, talking about Micah, looking at all the previous tests and answering our questions. Everything was pretty standard and “by the book” until Crystal asked the question, "So what can we do now so Micah can hopefully walk, talk and develop as best as he can?” After a long pause Dr. Grey said, “Nothing. In my experience parents do best to accept the limitations the diagnosis brings. So if you’re asking me the next steps, I’d save your money and take him to Disneyland.” I could see Crystal tearing up, she asks a follow up question, we continue for a few more minutes, but I’m sick to my stomach. Everything after that answer was a total blur. We had spent the last 6 months filling our “hope tank” as much as we could only for it to be destroyed by one answer.
This was beyond a huge set back, but we recouped and kept searching for more answers for anything that would help. Now clearly I wouldn’t be a Pediatric Chiropractor and writing this today if that answer stopped us. Yet looking back, what if that did stop me? And how many parents have that same conversation with the highly recommended and referred to “expert” and that was it?? Hope smashed, skepticism elevated forever going forward and a child who may never know their full potential. I know that sounds dark, but that’s what keeps me up at night. Parents not just getting the wrong answer, but the answer that discourages all hope and ACTION going forward. THAT is what makes me nervous answering Kelly’s mom’s question because I've been there and know the gravity of it.
But in this case the nerves and pause before I replied was because there is an energy that Pediatric Chiropractic CAN make a difference! That my answer CAN have that great of an impact on her path of hope, healing and health than what she would get anywhere else.
The word that has been on my heart since the day after Micah was born is Hope. But if I’m honest that’s not enough, not for Kelly or Micah. We need hope paired with answers and help. It’s what my wife and I found at a Perfect Storm talk led by the man whom I am now blessed to work alongside- Dr. Tony Ebel. We finally got our hope back after months of searching following that day at the neurologist. As great as that was, that’s not what I remember being the most impactful. It was his closing action steps, “...Keep asking questions, trust your “gut” as a parent, and find Docs that listen to you.” A complete 360° from my past experiences. Taking this to heart after 11 years of our own journey and caring for 1000’s of kids and families I’ve found the following to be true. We are ALL created with an innate potential for the body to be so incredibly self healing and intelligent.NO MATTER HOW COMPLEX OR DIFFICULT there is ALWAYS hope and potential in contrast to a diagnosis of limits. I can’t remember verbatim how I answered Kelly’s mom’s question. But what I do remember is that mom left that day with more hope than she started with and a clear understanding of what Kelly’s nervous system was working on and that she HAS so much more potential to come!!! We ended the conversation with a hug, an adjustment for Kelly and a future of continued momentum for a nervous system that is still growing and developing. How different an experience than when I was at the Neurologist 11 years ago. There is HOPE, don’t let anyone tell you other wise! Keep asking until you find ANSWERS! We are here to HELP!