Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Holistic Approach to Special Needs

Three years ago today we nearly lost our second born son. He was brought into this world after a normal, healthy pregnancy and a fast, uneventful home birth. But within 24 hours, he was given last rites at a local hospital, overcome suddenly by the rare staph infection that stunned the medical doctors.

His journey has been a challenging one for all of us and is rich with many lessons. We are enormously grateful for all that modern medicine had to offer and simultaneously frustrated by its rejection of a more holistic and natural approach. Our family chiropractor had to visit incognito to work on our son while he was in the hospital; our insistence to keep our baby close and to hold him whenever possible (in spite of the tubes and wires) garnered sidelong glances (and a few arguments); and the knowledge that I had actually chosen to have both my children at home was viewed as very strange indeed. On the flip side, a number of younger residents were open and receptive, including a cheery nurse who was a fellow breastfeeder and honored our request to give our baby only breastmilk, even waking my husband at bedside in the wee hours of the morning so that he could come home to retrieve more stored breastmilk when they ran low.

When discharge rolled around, we had to fight to remove our child from hospital care and were given dire warnings about his future. The endocrinologist insisted he faced a life of medication and within months, testing at a different facility proved her diagnosis to be completely wrong. Still, our child has special needs and requires that we blend and meld our conventional and holistic options at each and every hurdle.

Today, more and more parents of children with special needs are seeking out holistic and complimentary medicine to maximize their children's potential and health. Parents of children with autism have found enormous results in dietary and lifestyle changes, homeopathy, chiropractic, and craniosacral therapy, among others. According to a 2008 article from the American Academy of Pediatrics, 30% of healthy children and more than half of kids with chronic conditions use complimentary and alternative medicine. From ADHD to Downs Syndrome, there are a wide range of holistic options out there but the medical community may not always embrace these alternatives, much less inform parents of their existence.

All parents need to be advocates for their children. The internet provides us with a huge opportunity to learn and access information that we may not have otherwise discovered. We can also learn so much from the experiences of other families, their trials and tribulations, and the successes that they have had along the way. Bringing parents together to share and to support one another may be one of the most valuable resources we can offer. Knowing that there are others out there who honor your choices and respect your desire to live naturally and holistically can make all the difference - for parents and for their children.

1 comment:

  1. Knowledge is empowerment, choice is freedom. Thank you for sharing this story.

    Leah Vachani, NS, NC
    Holistic Nutrition Consultant


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