Maria Rickert Hong (https://www.mariarickerthong.com/)
A Certified Holistic Health Counselor who helps parents recover their children from symptoms of: almost autism, sensory processing disorder, autism, ADHD, PANS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome), PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections), OCD, and Lyme disease.
She is the author of the best-selling book, Almost Autism: Recovering Children from Sensory Processing Disorder, A Reference for Parents and Practitioners and a co-author of the best-selling book, Brain Under Attack: A Resource for Parents and Caregivers of Children with PANS, PANDAS, and Autoimmune Encephalitis.
Sensory processing disorder and other sensory processing challenges are becoming more and more common especially in children which is why there’s a need to prioritize natural health. They may occur alongside other conditions like PANS, PANDAS, ADD, and autism.
In today’s episode with Maria Rickert Hong, we’ll be diving into learning and discussing more about sensory processing disorder and how we could resolve it through natural means.
What makes us suspend belief and put the fire in our belly?
Maria has a son who had many health issues and they weren’t getting good responses from his pediatricians. Her son also had sensory issues that hit him when he was about three years old and which prompted them to seek more help. However, the doctors tend to provide several different medications.
Her awakening moment was when she had her own health problems while taking care of her son who would wake up five or six times a night, go to her room, and wake her up. She developed severe adrenal fatigue and had hormonal-related problems.
Upon searching for natural sleep remedies, she came across a book of a nutritionist author, Ann Louise Gittleman, entitled Before the Change: Taking Charge of Your Perimenopause. In the book, Gittleman offers a wide range of options for taking care of yourself which helped Maria a lot.
Cutting out the dairy for Maria’s son.
Cutting out the dairy made quite an impact on Maria's son. Her son’s asthma, constipation, allergies, eczema, and sensory issues all got better.
Maria started using a cookbook that offers kid-friendly recipes and they’re mostly gluten-free and dairy-free. It also has other potential allergens that kids could be sensitive to. Maria got into cooking and kept going from there.
You have to do diet, you have to eat.
Nobody wants to hear it but you have to diet. You don’t have to instantly shift to doing an extreme diet. Like what I always tell my clients, let’s do some minor things if we can. And if we can’t, we wait until we calm the brain first and then, we start stripping it down.
Many choose that option because they're in a crisis which is totally understandable. You gotta do triage first. However, people should always keep in mind how impactful a diet is. And I think once people realize how beneficial it is, they’ll be more motivated to continue with it.
In an interview with Dr. Terry Wahls conducted by Maria, she learned that Dr. Wahls has recovered herself from secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. In fact, Dr. Wahls was already told that there was nothing the doctors could do except medications.
Fortunately, Dr. Wahls discovered functional medicine and tweaked her paleo diet to get all the nutrients that are helpful for mitochondrial function. Now, you can’t tell she’s had multiple sclerosis; she’s fully mobile.
Neurofeedback is a level one intervention for ADHD.
Seeking treatment for her son as he experienced extreme difficulties, Maria ended up bringing her son for neurofeedback which worked effectively as it set the foundation for both Maria and her son to function better.
Alongside neurofeedback, occupational therapy, and a bit of reflex integration therapy, diet also played a vital role in Maria’s treatment for her son. From gluten-free and dairy-free, her son also had a gut and psychology syndrome (GAPS) diet for a few years which helped in removing the most common allergens out of food.
GAPS diet was developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride who used the same to help her son recover from autism. In such a diet, people replace hard to digest foods which may cause damage to their gut flora or lining. Instead, they eat nutrient-rich foods that are beneficial for gut healing.
Neurofeedback works wonders in one’s road to recovery from sensory processing disorder. The brain mapping process is fascinating as it helps us identify where the patient had a concussion or where someone had a fetal monitor screwed into his brain.
It gives us clarity on what’s going on with our children’s brains and there are still many who are unaware of this. Remember that there are solutions available out there; there’s still hope for you, your child and your family.
Moreover, there are research studies to back up the effectivity of neurofeedback. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is a level one intervention for ADHD and it is just as good as medication.
Research studies also show how much neurofeedback improves executive functioning as well as the brain’s processing function. Though executive functioning is a set of learned skills, there’s an organizational part of your brain that functions better when that part is more organized.
What would you say to parents who are considering using neurofeedback as a natural solution for sensory processing?
As we previously mentioned, neurofeedback is a helpful and effective tool but it’s not the only tool out there. That’s why it is recommended to pair it with diet because diet will often get you a long way.
You have to sort of heal the body internally. Do a proper diet and correct your nutritional deficiencies. Rewiring the body to your brain is equally important. Other forms of therapy such as vision therapy, auditory therapy, and reflex integration can also be helpful.
Occupational therapy is also one of the most effective treatments for sensory processing although it really depends on who you go to. Nonetheless, it’s helpful in reorganizing and managing the stimuli that's coming to you.
The only issue in occupational therapy is that most occupational therapists don't do reflex integration as a fundamental part, which should be done first before you start doing sensory integration.
When the neck and the brain are not wired correctly, parts of the brain don’t develop.
Normally, a baby should be crawling on his or her hands and knees. When that doesn't happen, it most probably means that the neck and the brain are not wired correctly to the body. Parts of the brain don't develop. This can be seen through brain mapping which helps us see which parts of the brain did not develop which affected your child’s early developmental interaction.
I think what people don’t realize is that the same way natural health improves one’s sensory processing, other natural things reset and support the brain. Even smiling at someone causes neurotransmitters to fire up. On the other hand, avocado or chopped dark chocolate causes the brain to get a lot of neurotransmitters.
What is the one thing you wish you knew about natural help?
You can't go wrong with diet. You have to set your expectations which should be achievable. You can start small and then gradually shift to a bigger or better diet. After all, small progress is still progress.
Change your mindset. Yes, we all want to get to the summit of a mountain. However, we have to first go to the base camps. Stop and look at where you are. It’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure.
What will also help you is doing your own research while working with your pediatrician. However, if your pediatrician is not willing to work with you, then go find another. A naturopath or a functional medicine practitioner is an excellent way to start and you can work with them in conjunction with your pediatrician.
If you’re interested in learning more about Maria’s works, you can visit their organization’s website through https://epidemicanswers.org/ or https://documentinghope.com/. You can also check out Maria’s best-selling books.
For those who want to join our Facebook group and connect, you can visit https://drroseann.com/group. And as I always say, wherever you are in the journey is exactly where you need to be. You just need to take one step and be consistent with it to create change.
Other than that, she is the Education and Media Director for Epidemic Answers whose goal is to help parents recover their children from these and other chronic illnesses.
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