When I first received this book in the mail, I looked at the title and took a deep breath. Healing Without Hurting: Treating ADHD, Apraxia, and Autism Spectrum Disorders Naturally and Effectively Without Harmful Medication. Another person suggesting a new way of treating disorders?
“Here we go,” I thought. Someone else telling me how I’m going to cure my child of Autism and how wrong I am for giving him medication.
This book doesn’t even begin to suggest magical cures, though. Jennifer Giustra-Kozek, the author of the book, writes from the perspective of not only a mother, but a mental health professional. As I read through her experiences with her own child, who has developmental delays, apraxia, and characteristics of autism, and then her quest for more knowledge, and more answers, and a better solution for her child, I realized that her journey parallels what I’m going through with Squeaker in so many ways. Although all our children are different, we want the best for our children. Guistra-Kozek never stopped searching for answers.
In Healing Without Hurting, Guistra-Kozek takes hard-sought answers and makes them available to her readers. She talks about the links between ADHD/autism and nutritional deficiencies, food intolerance, and exposure to food additives and environmental chemicals. She gives an in-depth coverage of the medications that many children with ADHD/autism are prescribed, their side-effects, their known long-term effects (into adulthood), and cites scientific peer-reviewed articles for medications that are not recommended for children, yet are prescribed anyway. I noted some of the medications that my child has been prescribed and nodded at the side-effects and the negative impact those medications had on our lives when he took them. They, indeed, caused us more harm than good. Did you know that “Kenneth Bock, MD, author of Healing the New Childhood Epidemics, [states that] many autism spectrum kids already have too much circulating dopamine in their brains[?]” ADHD medications, often given out to children on the autism spectrum in addition to other medications, increase levels of dopamine in their systems, which actually causes “more impulsive, pleasure-seeking, aggressive, anxious, paranoid, compulsive,” and rage-filled responses. In case anyone is wondering, my child no longer takes any medication for ADHD. His rage-response at home has decreased dramatically, but he still takes way too much medication, and that’s something we’re working on with his doctor.
Another thing I really like about the book? She goes into all the different genetic connections, vulnerabilities (and what to look out for), family allergies and autoimmune disorders, the gut-brain connection, and food allergies. I learned a lot about how my autoimmune disorders might impact my sons (both of them) and I didn’t realize the connection, but it makes sense. The vulnerabilities I suffer from definitely have a genetic link in the family and autism definitely runs on the female side of the family, so it makes sense that my children might have some sensitivities in addition to my being on the spectrum. I also did not realize that when doctors run blood tests or test for gluten intolerance, their tests really don’t have a comprehensive picture of what’s going on. I had tests run on myself thinking it would be sufficient, but it’s not enough. This led me to seeking a holistic doctor for myself. Unfortunately none exists in the area who will see my son. We will have to travel at least an hour away to get him tested, so we’ll get it scheduled sometime over break, I guess.
Until then, Healing Without Hurting does have really good diet tips for adding in essential vitamins for helping to heal the gut, the immune system, and making the body feel good so that your child can feel good. I firmly believe that you have to heal the whole child before you can see results, and a healthy diet definitely does become part of that. Therapy is another thing we’ll have to get on board now that he has the ability to use words to communicate his thoughts to some degree. What the book isn’t about? A cure for Autism. How to make it all go away. What it is about? How to make your child feel the best you can possibly make him or her feel. And isn’t that what we all want for our children? When you think about it, how can a child learn, behave, socialize, etc., at their best when they don’t feel their best? And isn’t it worth it to figure out if an underlying condition might be at the root of it any of those things?
Either way, I just feel that this book came at the right time in our lives. Maybe this review came at the right time in your life. I feel that we’re at a precipice and we need to make decisions. Perhaps the school system doesn’t like all of the decisions because for some time, it means an adjustment while we figure things out. But I cannot have my child so aggressive at home that he’s beating up his brother and punching holes in the wall. I also cannot medicate him to the point where he’s sleeping half the day away at school. At some point, we must realize that something is off. Perhaps hearing my son tell me that his belly hurts almost every day and then having a note stating that he threw up about 1/8th cup of phlegm may indicate that his belly really does bother him. Either the medications hurt his stomach or the foods he eats do.
One way or the other, despite my ever-lessening energy reserves, I’m a mom on a mission now thanks to this book that I, at first, dreaded reading. Thank God I followed through with my review!
Disclosure: this is an affiliate link, so I would get a nominal percent of the proceeds, but it would be well-worth your purchase. I received a copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed within this review, however, are my own. I’m just too horrible at lying not to express my own opinions.
If you have a child with a disability, what treatments, if any (natural or otherwise) have you tried?