Last year, I had the honor of reviewing Marcia Hind’s book, I know You’re in There. Since then, Marcia and I have talked frequently on Facebook. We share a common bond that most of us autism moms share. It’s easy to find that support in one another when you are living similar journeys. One day, while talking with Marcia, she recommended I review another book. Ironically, the book she recommended, Healing Without Hurting, by Jennifer Giustra-Kozek, LPC, NNC, was already on my Amazon order.
Jennifer’s book is about treating ADHD, autism, apraxia, and the like using a natural approach versus medication. Jennifer is a psychotherapist who wrote her book based on years of experience treating patients with ADD, ADHD, autism, OCD and other diagnoses, in addition to the journey of her own son Evan, born in 2006.
As a psychotherapist, Jennifer has firsthand knowledge that she shares with us of the negative effects that medications can have on some children. Because of those negative effects, she wanted to explore all other available option for both her patients and her own child. Thus began her journey to find healing without hurting.
The first three chapters of the book recount Evan’s birth and the five and a half weeks he spent in the NICU as a preemie. Jennifer writes poignantly about the many illnesses Evan had as a baby. As I read through those pages, I thought of our TMR red flag blog series. Evan had red flag after red flag, including chronic ear infections, bronchitis, sinus infections, fungal infections and sleep issues. In addition to the medical red flags, Jennifer writes about the behavioral red flags that also began popping up. Like so many of us, she worried about her child and wondered what could possibly be going on with her son.
Chapters 4 and 5 detail Jennifer and Evan’s journey to diagnosis: moderate to severe apraxia, pervasive development disorder, ADHD and sensory processing disorder. It also discusses the many co-morbid conditions that frequently accompany the neurological diagnoses.
Chapter 6 outlines commonly used medications. As a psychotherapist, Jennifer has been working with clients on stimulant drugs for approximately 15 years now. However, when Evan received his diagnosis, she found herself in a professional/personal struggle. All that she had encountered in her professional world, told her that “non-medicated” children faced additional risks if their needs were not addressed. The mother in her struggled with what she had been taught professionally. She did not want to medicate Evan. Her maternal instincts kicked in, and she was determined to listen to them, alternatively finding other treatment for Evan, all the while feeling that although medication may be necessary down the road, she needed to exhaust more natural options for treatment first. Within this chapter, she discusses a number of frequently prescribed medications and what these medications are intended to do when prescribed to treat ADD, ADHD, aggression, anxiety, OCD, etc. She includes information on MedWatch which was created by the FDA to alert consumers of potential side effects of medication.
Chapter 7 describes the road to alternative treatments. Many of us have chosen this road. Understandably, many of us want to exhaust all other possible avenues before having to put our five-year-olds on medication for sleep issues and/or aggressive behaviors – often “for life.” Jennifer’s book discusses other possibilities.
Chapter 8 explores possible genetic mutations that may be underlying our children’s conditions and explains to find out if your child has one or MTHFR gene mutations. Healthy gut flora, vaccines, excessive ultrasounds, viruses and bacterial infections are all discussed within the pages of chapters 9 and 10. General anesthesia can be a trigger for many of our kids. Jennifer discusses Evan’s history of going under anesthesia many times by the age of four and the possible contribution that had on his developing immune system. She goes on to further discuss how NAET (Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique) helped to determine Evan had developed a sensitivity to the anesthesia that needed to be addressed.
Chapters 11 and 12 discuss the all-important gut-brain connection and the malabsorption problems. Research has shown that gut issues are widespread in children with the “psychological” diagnoses of autism, ADHD, OCD, etc. Jennifer goes into detail, describing numerous nutritional supplements and what their roles are in supporting our children’s bodies.
Chapters 13 and 14 discuss Evan’s personal journey with alternative protocols. Chapters 15-18 cover topics that are important for every family with a child with ADD, ADHD and/or autism: food sensitivities, processed foods, and GMOs. Jennifer provides a detailed checklist for possible signs of gluten and dairy sensitivities. I cannot stress enough the importance of these chapters. Understanding the effect that food has on our children’s health, what food sensitivities are and what they can do to our bodies, and understanding how to eliminate those sensitivities can be crucial for restoring the health of our children.
The more I read, the more excited I got about the chapter titles. I remember thinking to myself, WOW, Jennifer managed to get it all into her book.
Chapters 19 and 20 discuss neurotoxins, heavy metals and neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are important to understand because they tell us why our kids go into the fight or flight response. If your child has aggression issues or emotional outbursts, read these chapters.
Chapters 21-23 discuss the use of supplements and non-traditional therapies such as neurofeedback, chiropractic care, horseback riding (hippotherapy), and even essential oils! There are so many options to choose from when navigating through the alternative route of care. So many of us have done traditional therapies in addition to different modalities for healing our kids.
Jennifer’s book closes with chapters on prenatal health, infant health, Evan’s journey continued, and a call to action. With Speech therapy, OT, PT, diet restrictions and addressing underlying nutritional deficiencies, Evan has improved in all developmental domains. His teachers reported he was listening and participating in class. His expressive speech has progressed as well as his sense of humor. Overall, his anxiety has decreased, and his self esteem has increased. Evan’s understanding of social situations is remarkable. By the writing of this book, Evan is eight years old and doing fabulous. Jennifer continues to utilize a naturopathic physician for acute health concerns. Evan attended a summer camp with his sister. The counselors were unaware of his diagnosis until Jennifer shared it with them. They were surprised Evan was on the spectrum. Jennifer’s call to action discusses the need for collaboration between western medicine and eastern holistic treatments. Jennifer recognizes the need for medicine but she also emphasizes the need to treat the root of the illness. Included in the back of the book are a Q&A and a childhood development guide.
As a 10-year veteran of this journey, I was not disappointed by this book. Jennifer addresses so much within the pages of her book, it is valuable beyond words — a resource to have within your library of “go to” books when you are looking up something for the first time or if you are needing a refresher for the 18th time.
Jennifer has given TMR a copy of her book to give away. Please comment below for a chance to win a free copy of Healing Without Hurting, by Jennifer Giustra-Kozek.
Both Jennifer and Marcia will be at the AutismOne Conference in Chicago at the end of May, 2015 in the TMR lounge signing copies of their books. So, when you are relaxing and visiting with us in the TMR lounge, don’t forget to stop by and meet Jennifer and Marcia. Their journeys are inspirational, and they would love to share their inspiration with you. Luckily for me, I have firsthand experience of that from both of these lovely ladies, and I can’t wait to share that inspiration with them in May.
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LEAH STOKES is the winner of the free copy of the book!!! Please message me Leah and I will get it in the mail to you right away! :). Thank you to all who read the review and commented! —-Guardian
I’ve been wanting this book for months. What a great overview of the book! Can’t wait to get it!
This sounds like a very comprehensive book. I have just started the biomedical journey with my daughter and would love this type of guide as one of my resources. Being a fellow psychotherapist I definitely agree that there is an overmedication of our children. I’m excited and eager to join other warrior moms on this journey.
This is such a journey. Thanks to all the parents who have tried various methods of healing and share with the rest of us. This can be a hard process, but it helps knowing there are others who have been through it too.
This was a good review of the book. I would love to receive a copy.
I can’t wait to read your book. As a veteran mother to two ASD children, 18-20 both boys. I’m asked to give advice and to recommend books, I found helpful. I facilitated a workshop to help teach parents about diet, free time play, soft touch, and non-reward based behaviour plans. I would love to read your book, and add it to my list of recommended reading and join you and Marcia Hind in inspiring and encouraging other parents. Thank you for welcoming all of us on your journey.
Jennifer gives us hope. Gives us opportunity. I firmly believe that children heal, children recover. We need more people like Jennifer in this world.
This book sounds amazing. I strongly believe in that underlying philosophy- healing without hurting. Side effects of any meds or treatment protocols are always on my mind before beginning anything new with my son. He is “so sensitive” and this book sounds like it would be a perfect way for me to review some new things to help him. Thank you for profiling this book! If I don’t win it, it’s on my list to buy!
We feel the same way about medications. I would love to get this book to read and see what else we could be doing.
I want one, I don’t know what to do with my son anymore, he is an nonverbal autistic 8 years old, as he is growing he is getting aggressive and I’m thinking that he feel frustration because he can’t communicate
We have been seeing a Naturopath for my 8yo son who was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD. I have found a lot of help through essential oils but now need assistance through diet training. Love your Facebook page and refer to it often!
I really really need this book. My son is 10 years old and I had to resort I’m giving him anxiety medicine which I hate doing but I really need more
I would use every inch of your book to help my son thanks for all your hard work and god bless
As a casualty this book has come across my life this last days, from many sources. I thing the universe is telling me something. Sounds interesting all the way, thanks for the review, it is a must to have.
I would love to win this book!
Thank you for the great article!
This book is on my wish list! I would love to win a copy and read it during our long road trip this summer!
Thank you all for commenting on the review. It truly is a fabulous book and one to add to your library of resources. I will pick the winner of the free copy on Friday! :).
I just read the first few chapters as a preview. I would so love to win this book in hopes of helping my son, and making his father undersnd.
Would love to get my hands on the book especially since my middle guy is a non responder to meds genetically. Sounds like a great overview.
I can’t wait for my copy to come in the mail. Should be here today. I ordered this book just a few days ago because of a friend/family member who had posted an article on facebook. There has always been all kinds of red flags with one grandchild (we’re raising three sibling grandchildren) who I feel is autistic, but I’ve gotten reluctance from a psychiatrist to diagnose him. He still has these issues that just aren’t right, muscle tone, coordination, ear infections, talking to himself, repetitive movements and the list just goes on. He is definitely ADHD and at least one of his brother’s. If this is inherited, they definitely got it from their father, who was super high strung. It was tough getting him through school when teachers with normal kids didn’t understand how to handle him. Raising grandkids that have the same behaviors are presenting the same challenges with school. I would love to win a copy of this book to give to the counselor at school – maybe if it’s presented to her in the right way, she can guide the teachers on how to handle kids with these kinds of issues – rather than the teachers and principals sending mine home because they can’t handle them – and no, I’m not kidding, we are worn out.
How exciting to have a chance to meet these authors and all the other TMR moms next month at Autism One! I am looking forward to it!
Seems like an informative book for any parent or caregiver with a child that has special needs.
Looking forward to getting a chance to read this – sounds like an excellent book!
Great review. Found my way here through a series of FB links. Looking foward to checking out this book further.
Sounds like a great resource! Would love to win it!!
I appreciate TMR so much for writing this review– so that I can help as many as possible.
I would love this book! I have a 10 year old that is dealing with behavioral issues due to PANDAS. My husband is pressuring me to put him on meds because dealing with aggression issues has become a strain in our home. Would love to know what alternatives Jennifer shares in the book.
Hey, Lili! I haven’t read Jennifer’s book, but I DID have a 9-year-old daughter with serious PANDAS rages. We conquered much of the over-the-top behaviors with some supplements: fish oils, SAMe, 5HTP, GABA and taurine. Homeopathy helped a lot too. She wrote a guest blog for us on the subject. ADHD, PANDAS and Myself: Finding the Best Version of Me.
I would love to get my hands on this book and share with others!
I would love to win this book to add to my collection of all things in healing my son from autism !
Would love to share with my clients.
Looks like a great read! Does Tmr have a list of suggested reading?
Great question, Rebecca! I think we did a blog post on the subject a while back . . . It’s probably time for an update. Let me see if I can find that one in the meantime.
Can’t wait to read it and meet the author in Chicago in May!
Oh I would love this book – we are on the same journey and I often question if it is time to try meds – so far no – but I think this will be a must read before any final decisions are made. My son is 13 with autism.
This book sounds amazing. It would be an excellent addition to my ever-expanding library! Thanks for that awesome review!
Would love to win – sounds like a terrific book!
Can’t wait to get my hands on this book!
Can’t wait to read it. And to recommend to several friends who are looking for alternatives.