Who do I see?
Everyone. I started Special Kids Medical Clinic as a clinic to help children with special needs heal using nutrition and ‘biomedical’ tools. But of course so many more people living in todays processed food filled, chemical laden world need help healing. So the clinic has changed and I now see almost as many adults as children. And I see children for wide ranging complaints – from alopecia, to tummy pains, to babies with reflux and eczema. I truly believe that functional medicine – that is medicine that deals with the underlying causes of our symptoms is the future of medicine and I am happy to be leading the way with this in Ireland.
What do I do?
The first question parents ask me when they phone is ‘what exactly do I do?’ So here goes – a walk through a typical first appointment at Special Kids Medical Clinic….
Your first appointment
The first appointment usually lasts for an hour to an hour and a half. During this time we will discuss your child’s current issues. We’ll go through how they are sleeping, how their tummy is (pain, constipation and diarrhea are all too frequently seen), how is their behavior and any other issues your child might have? I’ll check what are your main priorities and goals as parents – if sleep disturbance is an issue this is usually the big objective to start with. After that it varies from easing anxiety, helping them speak, helping their social skills, improving their appetite and diets…… It’s an endless list.
At this stage we can then discuss how I can help you to achieve your goals. There are various ways to do this and this will vary depending on your child.
Usually we will first discuss special diets which have been proven to help our children. For example: for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder studies show that 70 – 90% improve on a gluten and casein free diet. For patients with irritable bowel syndrome the FODMAPs diet is worth discussing. So we will discuss this. However not all parents are keen to try major dietary changes and there’s still lots we can do to help.
Tips and Tricks
Tricks for increasing the range of food your child will eat and tips for hiding food in our children’s diet are also discussed. Whilst the ultimate goal is to have a child eating whole foods I am a fan of increasing their nutritional intake in the interim whilst we work towards this goal. Check out www.sneakychef.com for ideas on how to hide nutrients in my children’s food. My own children love blueberries and have no problem eating them whole. But I still ‘hide’ them in our chocolate brownies when I bake them. This way whilst they are getting a treat I feel more comfortable that there’s some nutrients in it and that’s it’s not all junk.
Vitamin and mineral supplements get a lot of bad press. And whilst I fully agree that we should all strive to get our daily allowance of vitamins and minerals from our food for some of the children that I see this is simply not a realistic goal in the short term. A diet of white bread, waffles, fish fingers and rice cakes simply can’t supply all their daily needs and if there was an easy way of coaxing vegetables into our children trust me all parents would have been doing it long ago.
So I believe in supplements when needed- These range from omega 3 (fish oils – I’ve yet to meet an adult never mind a child who eats enough fish to fulfil these needs) to vitamin Dto probiotics.
There’s an endless list of investigations we can perform depending on your child’s history and needs. There is so much we can do to help your child without any test results but testing does allow for an individualised treatment plan. Tests range from allergy testing, coeliac screening, thyroid testing to Organic Acid testing, Comprehensive stool analysis and Hair mineral analysis. With these tests we can build a picture of your child’s gut flora, their underling biochemical pathways and nutrient status. We can then target areas of difficulty to treat.
At this stage parents heads are usually spinning with information overload. After each consultation I send each parent a summary of what we’ve discussed so that they don’t need to worry about remembering everything that they’ve just heard. And that’s it – a first consultation in a nut shell.