Raising a child with developmental issues can be a complex situation for many parents.
Understanding a child’s physiology, as well as health needs, can help parents in making favorable accommodations.
Helping to increase that understanding was the mission set out by Dr. Christopher Schriver during a class last month at the Creation Health and Wellness Center in Zephyrhills.
The course, open to the public, was geared toward helping the community to have a clearer understanding of attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and autism.
Both are neurological disorders, which can hinder a person’s cognitive skills beginning at infancy.
Schriver, a chiropractor at the Frank Clinic of Chiropractic in Zephyrhills, thoroughly explained these conditions to the audience.
He used slides to display areas of the brain affected by these disorders, such as the limbic region, cerebellum and prefrontal cortex.
Attention-deficit disorder affects someone’s ability to concentrate for long periods of time.
Autism involves a broad spectrum that may affect such issues as attention, language skills and social behavior to various degrees.
“I almost look at ADD as a very minor form of autism,” said Schriver.
He reasoned that both tend to affect the same areas of the brain, such as the frontal lobe.
When this lobe is suppressed, those with ADD are not able to focus properly, while those with autism may be disturbed by bright lights or loud sounds.
A person’s reflexes to touch can be delayed as well.
While it’s typical for children at 4 months old to 6 months old to respond by turning their head when gently stroked on the cheek, those afflicted by these conditions may not demonstrate any response.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 5 percent of children in the United State have ADD.
One in every 59 children is diagnosed as autistic, and it is four times as prevalent among boys as it is among girls.
While Shriver was growing up, he played football and frequently sustained injuries, which led to trips to a local chiropractor.
His affinity for sports and an interest in aiding the body led him to a medical career.
“I started learning more about what chiropractic can do,” Schriver explained, noting he learned more about the holistic side of the career — not just treating back and neck pain.
He also became intrigued by neurological issues and how they can be addressed.
By reading the book, “Why Isn’t My Brain Working,” by Datis Kharrazian, the chiropractor said he began to understand that there was more than a nutritional component to a healthy mind.
This led him to start assisting underdeveloped kids with various exercises.
Schriver also talked about the importance of a balance in autoimmune cells in the body and how to increase them.
ADD and autism have no known cure, but they can be treated, Shriver said.
Diet plays an important role, he said.
He recommends avoiding products such as artificial food coloring, artificial sugar, MSG, soy and dairy.
Linda Schwartz, who was at the lecture, said the remarks about diet resonated with her.
Her 14-year-old grandson, Marcus, has autism and must stay away from foods that contain dairy, gluten and grains, she said.
“It is a very expensive diet – all organic,” she said, but added, “It’s helped immensely in everything.”
Marcus’ family didn’t pick up on the signs of his condition until he was about 5 years old.
“His is what they call social autism, which is like Asperger’s [syndrome],” explained Schwartz. “He will, for the rest of his life, be at 50 percent growth socially.”
Although she has attended multiple seminars on the issue, she said that she did learn new information during Schriver’s lecture – such as how different parts of the brain react.
She said Marcus has difficulty making friends because of his anger issues and his inability to filter what he says to others.
Schwartz said she worries about whether her grandson will remain committed to his diet when he becomes an adult.
Schriver said he understands these kind of sentiments, from his experiences of working one-on-one with underdeveloped children.
At times, he is there to help when parents need a shoulder to cry on or someone to listen as they vent their frustrations.
“Any parent with a child with a learning disability is just a saint,” Schriver said.
Published January 9, 2019