“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 started searching for anything and everything that could help.
Through a friend's invite they attended the Perfect Storm workshop and started with a 6 month long restoration plan the next week. Much of her sensory, behavior and sleep challenges were incredibly improved and she remained consistent with care continuing to get adjusted at 2x a week…but that final goal on her intake. Speech. And we're still not there. "What do I say? How do I say it?" I thought to myself. What is mom going to accept, how do I encourage, and be realistic?
Kelly’s mom had been to all our workshops, adjustment after adjustment of “table talk” and was as Chiropractic’ally educated as any! She knew that we do not “treat” the symptoms, we help the body adapt…etc. (we all could go on for an hour long talk here, am I right?!?)…but in this moment I sensed that more philosophy or science wouldn’t do...I finally settled on what I was nervous to say...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 out from a staff Neurologist who surprised us late at night in our hospital room. After I watched Micah endure a MRI, screaming, strapped down away from my wife and neither of us being able to comfort him. Crystal and I were both already completely spent after an emergency c-section, the NICU lights, sounds and now this....but this shock wasn’t going to go away. 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. He spent 5 minutes examining, talking about Micah, looking at all the tests and answering our questions, all was pretty unremarkable (my favorite term for our “medical” team now looking back at it), 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 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…for anything that would help. Now, clearly I wouldn’t be a Pediatric Chiropractor and writing this today if that 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. This is what makes me nervous answering Kelly’s mom’s question. I've been there and know the gravity of it. But in this case the nerves and pause are an energy that I CAN make a difference, that I CAN have a much greater impact on her path of hope, healing and health than what she would get anywhere else. This is why I’ve always driven for the need of more and more Pediatric Chiropractors…But if I’m honest that’s not enough. The bar must be raised…We need Pediatric Chiropractors who can communicate, care plan, adjust, and lead within there community like never before.
As pediatric chiropractors, we must be able to answer the questions BETTER than ever before, and with more bandwidth and credibility than ever before. You're probably wondering how? What are my action steps? The word that has been on my heart the last year and continues into 2021 is Preparedness. Are we (as entire teams) prepared to be ready when the tough questions come our way? Are we prepared to engage our community at the highest level? To answer with certainty the contrast of hope and potential instead of diagnosis’ and 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. 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 at the Neurologist 11 years ago. So as we train and learn, let’s keep the PX vision and mission as our True North: To put Pediatric, Prenatal, and Family Chiropractic as first choice for the health care of millions of families. The world needs us, because every single mom and dad need our hope, answers and help.