Limitations of traditional mental health therapy for children with neurological disorders.


There are a multitude of limitations with traditional mental health care for children with neurological disorders. Our current medical model for treating a childhood mental health disorder is common to most adults in society but, it isn’t always the best model for young children. The main stream medical model is the group most people follow without question and they rarely challenge the treatment protocols. Clearly, we can’t challenge ideas when were unfamiliar with better ideas. Our children need caregivers to understand there are better ideas and more effective treatment methods available. It’s my hope that parents will be willing to open their minds to whole child and holistic models. Medical practices and mental health agencies are driven by insurance company protocols and licensing board expectations. Insurance companies require that a child receives a diagnosis to receive treatment. Unfortunately, much of our healthcare system is run by the pharmaceutical influences, government influences and media influences.

Main stream medicine is also a model of treating the symptom. Treating the symptom is usually addressed with a medication. We live in a time where we need to advocate for our children and fight for there needs to be met in the most helpful and productive ways. We can’t allow poor or mediocre mental health care treatments to continue for our children. The large entities that control healthcare don’t have to control the health outcomes of our children. The government, the FDA and pharmaceutical companies are certainly not going to control the health of my children. We are in a scary time, where we must fight to protect the mental health and physical health rights of our children.

Young children do not need to cope with long term mental health issues. The medical model focuses treatment of mental health disorders on coping. Children absolutely need to learn coping mechanisms but, the road to recovery should not be lost. We need to help children find the road to recovery and maintain the recovery status. So many families accept the fact that their child needs to keep attending therapy. Long term therapy can be appropriate in some circumstances but, ADHD or Spectrum disorders do not require lifelong therapy. Therapy that requires a continuation with minimal results year after year is obviously not effective. Traditional mental health therapy models don’t typically fix the systemic issues going haywire in our child’s body. Mental health therapy is one treatment modality but, it has limitations for children who have more biochemical and autoimmune breakdowns in the body. Our children can recover from ADHD, Autism, learning disabilities, sensory processing disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders or the so called Oppositional defiant disorder. Neurological disorders are much more than just a disorder that we need to cope with because we are “made that way,” or “inherited the disorder”. The words “neurological disorders” should be looked at as a set of symptoms. Neurological disorders that benefit from non-traditional therapies include: ADHD, Autism, learning disabilities, sensory processing disorder, obsessive compulsive disorders and the so called Oppositional defiant disorder. These disorders need to be viewed as a set of symptoms that are caused by a very complex web of issues in the entire body. Our children can recover from these disorders and be symptom free. To be symptom free a child needs nourishment and detoxification. It is a very short simple answer. The short answer of nourishment and detoxification is a complicated process that requires most of the work to be done at home.

The best approach for helping a child recover from ADHD, Autism, Anxiety, Sensory Processing Disorder and learning disabilities is the functional medicine model. The functional medical model focuses on the entire body and uncovering the root cause of an illness. The whole-body approach can pinpoint what is going wrong in the body, so symptoms can be fixed and not masked with a medication. Finding the root cause of an illness can empower the individual in making healthy lifestyle changes towards full recovery. The functional medical model focuses on natural healing and holistic remedies. The model focuses on preventative care that will hinder new serious symptoms from occurring. Treatments recommended with this model will be healthy for little bodies, safe for little bodies and support long term recovery. Who doesn’t want a healthy, safe and long-term recovery plan for their child? Parents really need to find practitioners that follow functional medical models if they want to recover their child from a mental health issue safely and naturally.

Parents should never feel questioned, feel pressured, or feel threatened by a mental health provider to take an uncomfortable treatment path. Parents tell me all the time, they felt pressured to put their child on a medication even though they didn’t want to. Parents tell me they don’t really want their child receiving a collection of therapeutic services, but they feel judged if they push back on therapies. Parents tell me, time and time again, that they have tried medications and services that don’t work. Too many parents and children are frustrated that no one can seem to help them. Many families are collecting doctors, therapists and other services providers and getting minimal results. Help is available but, it needs to be sought with a totally different approach.

If your child suffers from a neurologically based mental health disorder it would be wise to have the right practitioners helping you on the road to recovery. Your child would benefit from a naturopathic medical doctor (ND) so all medical testing can be accomplished. A naturopathic doctor will consider the entire mind and body connection. They often have more time to devote to patient care because they are not in the insurance managed care system. It would be helpful if this doctor specializes in neurological disorder recovery. Taking a biomedical and holistic approach to treatment will be lifechanging for your child. Your mission should be to find the “root cause” of your child’s issues. Holistically based providers are focused on finding the root cause and treating the root cause. When the root cause is treated, recovery can happen. There are many great naturopathic doctors that focus on Autism treatment and devote their practice to recovering children from Autism. If your child has Autism I would highly recommend you follow the work of Dr. Jared Skowren, Dr. Deitrich Klingheart, Dr. Christene Shaufner, Dr. Joseph Mercola, Dr. Ben Lynch, Dr. Dan Pompa, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, Julie Matthews, Robert F. Kennedy, and Dr. Mark Hymann.. Those individuals are paving the way for greatness and truly remarkable recoveries for children. Other great professionals to have on your child’s recovery team could be: a holistically minded chiropractor, a holistically minded mental health therapist, an herbalist, an aromatherapist, a holistic nutritionist, a holistic health practitioner that practices biofeedback, acupuncturist, massage therapist, reiki professional, and a holistic dentist. You may find this list overwhelming and every child doesn’t need each one of these professionals at one time. You might graduate to new treatment modalities over time and the recovery process will be a journey, not a destination. We can’t fix our children overnight and it is a long process. We will see progress if we are taking the right recovery path.

We all know a child who has been diagnosed with a mental health issue, a learning disability, asthma or allergies. It is normal for children to have a variety of difficulties in many different areas but not always to the extremes we ae seeing today. Every child has their own unique struggles. Having some struggles are a normal part of childhood. Every child has strengths and weaknesses. The weakness doesn’t always have to be a “diagnosis.” It is the caregiver’s role to advocate for the child and help them with their weakness’s. Caregivers are being led in too many unproductive directions. The best solutions to the most prevalent childhood issues are being overlooked. The true contributing factors to the most common childhood disorders are not being considered in treatment. So many parents want to help their child in the best way possible but the solutions and services to do so are unknown. The best solutions are not singular, and the most productive approach is systemic methods. Our children need us to take systemic approaches and understand the true “why” to their behaviors.

I see children struggling behaviorally and emotionally that don’t have to be struggling for the length of time that they do. Children are suffering from mental health disorders for way too long. In the past I have suggested some of the most effective solutions when working with a child but, the buy in to the solution from families if often limited. The mind set of many parents and many teachers need to change. We need to expand our understanding of mental health care from as we know it. Caregivers need to stop spinning their wheels on old solutions that don’t work to solve problems effectively. As Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Jumping from one traditional therapist to the next and one traditional psychiatrist to the next isn’t going to give new results for your child. Many behavior management techniques used in isolation are not going to work for an effective change. I have met with countless families that tell me therapy doesn’t really produce effective changes for their child. They tell me medications haven’t produced profound changes, but they keep trying new ones. They keep trying new medication hoping that one will be the magical pill. Therapy can work for a child if the family takes part in the change and if the change is focusing on the correct aspects. We can’t fix things appropriately if we keep ignoring the root causes. Why are so many parents ignoring the root cause of there child’s issues? Some parents have said to me, “there doesn’t always have to be a root cause because genetics is the reason for the issues.” Genetics is not the reasons for root cause to be ignored and genetics alone is not the reason your child struggles. We have a genetic makeup where we are susceptible to illness’s, but environmental factors called epigenetics pull the trigger on what happens to us. I urge caregivers to educate themselves on genetic factors and how we can control our genetics through the work of Dr. Ben Lynch. His book “Dirty Genes” will enlighten you on what factors you can control for your child and how you can impact your child’s genetic outcomes. We are not doomed by our genetics and we can change what is happening in our child’s body. According to Dr. Ben Lynch, author of Dirty Genes, we can change our genes that are not working properly. We can recover our bodies and change our genetic structure.

Developmental delays are a real struggle, in very large proportions, in the present time. I often notice developmental delays when I look at a group of children at a musical concert or sitting in a classroom. I see children holding their hands over their ears because the noise is too loud, chewing on their shirts, jumping up and down hyperactively or looking like they are lost in the crowd. I see children yelling at their teachers, talking in very loud voices, becoming very overstimulated during unstructured times and having great difficulty keeping their hands to themselves. Its saddening to see the children who struggle and how development has been put on hold for an unsettling number of children. Children with extreme developmental delays or hyperactivity are taking over the childhood population. We must let our children recover and overcome the serious blows to their developmental systems. There are things we can do, and we can make so many of the issues our children struggle with disappear.

According to recent Autism statistics, the number of children being diagnosed on the Autism spectrum is skyrocketing. The numbers rise each year with no indications of it going down anytime soon. Although the CDC has many limitations in reporting, it has been published that the Autism rates are 1 in 59 children for 2018. It was stated by Dr. Elisa Song that it is being projected for the year 2033 that 1 in 3 kids could have Autism. This has nothing to do with better diagnostic tools. An absolute toxic overload is causing the numbers to rise. The Autism numbers will be jaw dropping and staggering in the years to come if we do not help our children gain true wellness. Gaining wellness for your child can only be accomplished by recovering your child from the toxic storm.

It has been clear that Autism and many other childhood disorders have been on the rise. More and more children are suffering from developmental delays and parents are being told their child has Autism spectrum disorder as a definition of the delays. Developmental delays often go unrecognized as multi-systemic issues, so they are given a mental health label due to ignorance on the underlying causes. If your child can’t talk, can’t socialize and has repetitive behaviors the label of Autism gives a label but not a definitive explanation. What is happening in your child’s body allowing these issues to fester? Something wrong is happening and this something wrong happening can be fixed. We have the power to make changes now and we need to make better decisions for the sake of our children.

Developmental delays are real, and the struggles are problematic. The solution to those struggles have taken an unfortunate path for many children. The way in which we approach the difficulties children face needs a dramatic change. Childhood difficulties are lasting longer than they should because the solutions are unproductive. We need to help our children in positive and productive ways. In my opinion a parent can’t say, “My child has ADHD or a learning disability so that explains their behaviors.” The label does not explain the reason behind behaviors and symptoms. The label doesn’t explain exactly what is happening in the brain or the body of a child. If we don’t know what is happening, we can’t really fix the problem. We need to find the real problem before implementing the best solution.


Author: Dr. Elizabeth Ward, Ph.D., LCPC