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ADHD, Anxiety, and Chiropractic Care-K’s Story of Hope

K has always struggled behaviorally in school.  He was eating up to 3 pencils a day, even biting off the metal part and eraser.  He fidgets in his seat.  He likes to walk the room.  He likes to visit when he should be working.  He has trouble remembering to raise his hand and wait to be called on before speaking.  He prefers a standing desk as opposed to sitting all day long.  He is ‘busy.’  He just doesn’t fit into the ‘normal school box.’  He’s not the easiest kid to have in the classroom.  But he is definitely an amazing student.

He’s also extremely smart.  In second grade he was testing at a 4.4 grade level for reading and greater than 5th grade level for math.  He loves science and history.  He loves to learn, but doesn’t like to write.  He loves to discuss and try ‘what-if’ scenarios whenever possible.  He likes to have everyone involved, in everything.  He’s social.  And he’s smart.

K was diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety a year ago.  The diagnosis abled the school to write up a behavioral IEP plan for him and offer him more services such as sensory breaks and OT.  But after those things didn’t seem to be enough and he continued to talk out of turn and was too busy in the classroom, the question was posed to us, ‘Have you thought of medication?’

I wasn’t ready to start him on medication, knowing that it was a mind-altering drug he’d be prescribed.  We’d tried behavioral therapy led by his psychologist for 3+ months without any results, positive or negative.  As my 7 year old son’s mother, I felt it was my job to do what was best for him, and at the time this question was posed to us, I didn’t feel I was educated enough to choose medication for him.

So I began my quest to making the best educated decision possible for him. 

I started by searching the internet for supplements or natural treatment options for children diagnosed with ADHD.  I found so much information it was overwhelming.  I thought about trying a supplement, but wanted to pick the ‘best’ one and didn’t know what his body needed.  I needed help.

I emailed his psychologist and asked if she had any other therapy options or supplement suggestions, any books I could read, any suggestions.  She emailed me back information on ADHD and told me to contact our pediatrician if we wanted to start on medication, and we could decide what dose to start him on.

I called our chiropractor at Strive Chiropractic and told them of his behavioral struggles and asked if they had experience with ADHD and if they thought they could help.  Dr. Joe spoke with me for over an hour, talking about their overall experience with children with ADHD, the scans they do and what they learn from the scans, and what our overall treatment plan might look like depending upon what the scans say.  They were able to get us in the following day, and I booked the appointment.  I also asked Dr. Joe if he knew of a naturopathic doctor in town who they’d recommend?  He said he did, and after another phone call, I was booked with them for the following morning as well.

I started to feel like I had a plan, even though I had no idea what the plan would entail.

The following day we first met with the naturopathic doctor.  The appointment was over 2 hours long.  We talked about K’s history from the time labor started with him to his now 7 year old body.  We talked about his sleep patterns, what his diet looks like, how often he poops.  We talked about his behavior struggles and his ADHD and anxiety diagnosis.  They took hair samples and blood samples and gave me a kit to bring back a urine sample.  I felt more confident leaving their office knowing that science was at work, and we were at least going to get some answers as to what his overall body health looked like.
The test results came back saying he has traceable amounts of heavy metals in his body, and his mineral levels are all out of range.  He is dairy intolerant, and his adrenal gland is overactive to the point in which it is affecting his heart.  We have had to completely revamp his diet and I have had to take control over everything that he eats.  He also takes several different supplements.  He recently went to camp for 4 days and 3 nights and I packed everything he ate while at camp.  It’s not easy, but it’s possible.  You can see how I prepared his food for camp in this post.

Next was our appointment with Strive.  We started out with talking with Dr. Jake about a lot of the same things that we discussed with the naturopathic doctor.  We discussed K’s birth, sleep patterns, diet, behavior struggles, and ADHD and anxiety diagnosis.  Dr. Jake told us about the spine and how your nerves in different parts of your spine cause different types of trouble throughout your body when your body isn’t properly aligned.  He showed us how most often kids with an ADHD diagnosis and those who have anxiety have a disruption in what they call the ‘brake pedal’ section in their neck.  He then explained how they correct it with adjustments, and how they track their progress by reports of changes parents and teachers are seeing and also with additional scans.

Then K got scanned along his spine, neck, and behind his ears.  K’s initial thermal scan showed significant severe stress (red color) at C1-C2 (the top two vertebra in the neck.)  This is the most significant area in the spine where the nervous system regulates the parasympathetic response (the body’s brake pedal/”rest and digest” response).  Imagine K’s “gas pedal” pushed to the floor, engine revved up and then we “cut the brake pedal.”  The autonomic (function) portion of the nervous system cannot communicate effectively between the brain signals and the body’s reception portals, almost like a poor wireless signal between the brain and the body.  Imagine how frustrating this could be!  Kids especially, have trouble communicating this frustration and often “act out” or have behavioral meltdowns to express this internal feeling.  His progress exam showed huge improvements in a decreased amount of stress from a severe (red) to a mild/moderate (green/blue) indicating much less stress to the top portion of his neck..

Ks scans showing how out of align his body was

His Surface EMG scan showed a significant disruption in the energy processes in the body.  This scan measures the “electrical activity” in the central nervous system.  When there is more activity, motor-neurons fire more rapidly creating a stronger muscle tone (or tension).  K’s Total Energy/Efficiency score initially was a staggering 1576% (should be around 100%) which is “off the charts” in terms of his body’s ability to regulate and coordinate the energy processes within his neuromuscular system.  This would be similar to trying to contain a hummingbird in a plastic bottle.  Neuromuscular exhaustion has a high correlation with diminished emotional or behavioral states—in both children and adults.  After his first progress exam, his score dropped to 275!

Ks scan showing his overall body energy level to be almost 16x the normal at 1576.35 when it should be 100.

The HRV scan is the gold standard for determining adaptability.  It measures the amount of “reserve” a person has to deal with the accumulation of stressors in their life.  The balance between the Sympathetic (gas pedal) and Parasympathetic (brake pedal).  K’s initial HRV showed a shift into the yellow/right side which indicates low autonomic (function) activity which signifies a diminished responsiveness to stress and often points to lower adrenal activity (which the naturopath confirmed).  After his progress exam, his HRV level had returned to optimal range (in the green). This tells us his body is adapting with more ease to the stressors (physical, emotional and chemical) he encounters on a daily basis.

Video of K’s mom and Dr. Emily of Strive Chiropractic discussing K’s story and Chiropractic care.

When K first got adjusted, he hated it.  He was scared of the sounds and the feelings and I think of someone being that close in his personal space.  He didn’t like feeling that he didn’t have a say and didn’t have control over any of it.  The first few months of adjustments were terrible for us as parents and him as a patient.  The doctors at Strive were nothing but encouraging and patient.  They reassured me that him throwing a fit was something they saw often from kids who were just starting to get adjustments.  They reassured him that he’d feel better once he was adjusted and that there was nothing to be afraid of.  It took about a month of going three times a week to get him used to it.  Now he asks to go to the chiropractor and get adjusted.  He can feel when something is misaligned and knows that they can fix it and that he’ll feel better.  He also knows and realizes that it won’t physically hurt.

K showing how easy it is to get adjusted!

We are 4 months in on our treatment at Strive and with our naturopathic doctor.  We have seen so many changes in K and his behavior.  He is able to respond instead of react to things.  He is able to ‘reset’ himself when he is getting wound up and needs to calm down and rationalize the situation.  He knows when he is getting anxious and how to calm himself again.  He is better able to focus.  He is a better friend and more well behaved kid.  We have friends and family comment on how much he has changed, and how much calmer he is now.

He also feels better physically and can tell if he ‘cheats’ on his dietary restrictions.  Dairy now makes him physically ill since his system has detoxed from it.  We have a long way to go before we can do a heavy metal detox, and we continue to work towards bringing his mineral levels back into range.

He recently got scans again at Strive, and his overall body energy level is down to 275!!!  We are all amazed at his progress.  We are also down to once a week visits, which K looks forward to each week.  The doctors at Strive continue to be encouraging and supportive.  They ask how we are doing, comment on new haircuts, and joke around with the kids.  They also ask about if we are seeing any changes, how his diet is going, and if there have been any new findings from follow up testing we are doing at the naturopathic doctors office.  They are invested in his health and are interested in taking all the findings into consideration.  All three doctors are simply amazing.

As a mom who has chosen a less-paved route to helping her ADHD diagnosed son be the best he can possibly be, I am so very thankful for the doctors at Strive Chiropractic and our naturopathic doctors office.

We are our children’s advocates.

I’m not saying that medication for ADHD and anxiety are bad, or shouldn’t be given.  I can’t say that we will never be needing them for our kids.  But I do know that we as parents are our children’s advocates.  They cannot advocate for themselves.  They don’t get a say about what doctors they go to, what treatments they receive, what medications they are given.

I do want to encourage other parents that you can be a great advocate for your child.  If something doesn’t feel right, you don’t have to do it.  I didn’t feel comfortable with how my son was initially diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety.  I still don’t.  I also don’t feel comfortable giving him a mind-altering medication without exhausting options available to us that do feel right.  Choosing a more natural path of care for our son feels right.  The answers we’ve been given from the testing that has been done by Strive and our naturopathic doctors office fits with the behaviors we were seeing.  We believe that the decisions we’ve made for him have been the best educated decisions we’ve been able to make.

I’d like to thank Dr. Emily of Strive Chiropractic for inviting me to interview and share K’s story, and also for putting all the time and effort into editing the video and compiling K’s clinical chiropractic findings.  This post couldn’t have been put together without her!


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17 thoughts on “ADHD, Anxiety, and Chiropractic Care-K’s Story of Hope

  1. This was a great story. As an elementary teacher I always try to help my students (and their parents) that have ADHD, anxiety or characteristics of either of those two deal with it w/o medication. This gives me more information to talk to parents about. The more tools in my toolbox the better, so thank you. I too think the doctors at Strive are amazing!

    1. Thank you for your comment! Thank you also for all you do as a teacher. I am so appreciative of teachers and the work that you do. You matter so much to these kids, and to us parents. It’s nice to hear that you support treatment that doesn’t include medication. Going the route with the Naturopathic doctor and Chiropractic care definitely is not the quick fix that medication can sometimes give, but we really do feel that it is the right way for us and are so thankful to our doctors. Feel free to share our blog with parents who you feel it could help or give hope to. It’s hard as a parent to hear the struggles our kids are having in school, and being a strong advocate for our kids while trying to maintain a favorable relationship with the school isn’t always easy, but finding someone who supports our decisions and us doing what feels right gives us hope! And yes, the doctors at Strive are simply amazing!!!

  2. As a Chiropractor, I very much appreciate your not only sharing your story, but also encouraging parents to be advocates. However, it is difficult to be an advocate, at times, for ourselves and our children in this current healthcare climate where the most common course of action is to medicate. For those of us who think differently, we need a clear communication form, that our children (and parents!) can carry with them 24/7 to express health desires and directives. Please take a look at my site/service called Least Invasive First, http://www.leastinvasivefirst.org, and let me know if you have any questions. The intent is to join like minds together and change healthcare to include the whole person in their healthcare choices/decisions.

  3. We made the same choice for our children with ADHD and Aspergers years ago. With two of them happily on their way in their successful careers and one finishing up homeschooling with me in the next couple of years, I would say without a doubt that we made the right choice when we chose chiropractic care for our family. Thanks for this thorough, thought-provoking article.

    1. Congratulations on your children’s successes!!! Thank you for sharing that with me. This road is a long and tough journey to be on, but I still feel that it is the right path for us. Best of luck to you and your children!

  4. I’m So glad that you have written on this topic. It’s always nice to have a view on someone’s personal story. You have motivated me to keep going in my journey with my son. Though he hasn’t been diagnosed with ADHD, I have learned that through natural approaches I have been able to help behavior and skin problems for him.
    Thank you again for sharing your story!

    1. Thank you! Best of luck to you and your son!!! I am always open to care options, and am very thankful for the natural options we have available to us through our chiropractor and naturopathic doctors office.

  5. Mad props to you mama!! Pursuing alternative paths can be scary and intimidating! Good for you, going for educated decisions! ❤️ He’s a lucky guy!

    1. Thank you!!! It is scary and very intimidating, especially if you have to work with people at the school who don’t agree with your alternative care decisions. We unfortunately had that this past year with one school employee, but we are hoping for a better year this coming year! It’s definitely not the quick fix that mind-altering medications could be, but I’m so very thankful that we did the extra testing we did and found his adrenal gland being over-active and affecting his heart.

  6. Very interesting. My daughter was diagnosed with ADHD in 4th grade. I wish I had been aware of options. You did a great job seeking a better choice for your son.

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