Autism and Chiropractic Care – MedMAPS

Autism and Chiropractic Care

Interview Transcript

Interviewer (I): So I am excited to interview our next guests (pause) we have two amazing doctors here, and we are gonna talk about a topic I don’t think we talk enough about. Welcome Dr. Sonners and welcome Dr. Sonners.

Melissa Sonners and Jason Sonners (MS and JS): Thank you.

I: Before we get started I wanted to talk to you guys about, you know, first of all, you know, what exactly do you do in your practice and where is your practice located at.

JS: So, uhhhh, our office is Core Therapies and we practice in New Jersey from our New Jersey uhh is our website. Umm we have mostly chiropractors. We have 8 different chiropractors, we all specialize in different aspects of chiropractics. We have a few who do functional medicine, functional neurology, we do pediatric, pre-natal, post partum, umm, sports injuries also, umm, we treat lots of families, pretty broad range of conditions as well, umm ofcourse you know childrens spectrums is a big part of that is also.

I: And so often you know we think you get a diagnosis with a child of autism your first though isn’t chiropractic care. Umm so can you talk about a little bit about why that’s so important for us to incorporate that into our therapy methods.

JS: Sure

MS: One main thing that we take from the chiropractic philosophy is that we are not changing these people, ummm, we really believe that your body was designed born to be healthy and sometime there is interference that affects that and so our job is to peel back these layers, whether be through craniosacral or through detoxification or through chiropractic or through hyperbaric oxygen to get to the core that’s your childs. We are not changing anything and I think that’s what’s really need.

I: That’s beautiful. And I know you do way beyond chiropractic, right? So can we talk a little bit about that as well cause chiropractry involves many different layers correct?

JS: correct

MS: Right

JS: I mean like I said we have a handful of different doctors beside the two of us (pause) umm treating people. So it just really depends on what the issues are, what they are coming in for, ummmm, what different test we might run and blood panels and urine panels and hair panels. We are tryin’ to figure out what are the underlying issues because once we understand that we can put together a plan, certainly by no chances, every child, you know, coming in let’s say on the spectrums getting the same treatment, that’s just, it does not make sense cause they all have their own varied issues. So we need to put together a plan for them that matches those issues. So, we are really looking at tryin to get like Melissa said, tryin to get to the cause of where that all came from in the first place and umm ….. you know

MS: and get back to the core person and let them shine that what I mean by not changing like we are not changing your child, it’s still your child, we are just getting’ rid of anything that’s making difficult for them to be themselves.
JS: Yeah right.

I: And so, when we think about chiropractic, I know for myself, umm atleast cause we have a chiropractor, she comes in and visits our home. Umm, she has been working on my son, goodness, probably for 11 or 12 years and umm insurance now pays for a lot of chiropractic care umm, which is just fantastic as it didn’t used to. So that’s really great and I think it probably depends on your state from what I understand. Ummm why do people still think of chiropractors is just doing the basic adjustments and such and it sounds as though you guys go well beyond that?

MS: Yeah. What I usually tell parents when they are coming in if they are concerned about especially with the craniosacral is when we are working with children the amount of pressure we use is the amount of pressure you would use to check a tomato. So its super gentle, kids actually love it. Sometimes they are a little tentative on their first visit but we, we give them the time that they need to feel comfortable. Umm and often kids would come in and jump up on the table and sometimes sleep through an adjustment. Its super relaxing, the kids are comfortable, the parents are usually really happy once they see that too.

I: Do the parents also get adjusted with you guys?

MS: Oh a lot of them do yeah cause they are going to relax they need it to, for sure.

I: Yeah I know. Our chiropractor who comes to our home adjusts our family on top of our child and it becomes like an entire, everybody’s gonna feel good after this. I think its really important. Some of the things I noticed is calmness after an adjustment. Is that something you see in your practice?

JS: Absolutely. And the kids and the parent you know right. The premise behind the chiropractic treatment is really trying to handle the nervous system,trying to take the nervous system and balance it and have it relax a little bit. Balance between you know the stressed mode let’s say, and so the sympathetic and parasympathetic sides of the nervous system. So when we can balance the nervous system, everybody feels better. You feel calmer, you feel clearer. So it really helps, both the child and the parent, for different reasons, but in some way.

I:I know many parents get nervous that the child’s not gonna lay on the table, or they’re not gonna be adjusted. Do you guys use something called an activator?

MS: We do, yeah. We have an activator that we use and then we also have a toy activator, so the kids get to use it too. It’s very…in our office at least, it’s very interactive. Our room is attached to a playroom so we’ll adjust in the playroom. It’s wherever the kids are comfortable. So it’s definitely fun.

JS: I mean sometimes they’re on the table for a few minutes, and you know, they’re not. And that’s okay too.

MS: It’s super family friendly. It’s for everybody.

JS: We might adjust mom, let’s say, for a few minutes in-between you know, the front and end of the child’s adjustment too. So it’s pretty, I mean we’re very relaxed, very comfortable, the way we handle things in our office.

I: And what is your recommendation when someone’s looking for chiropractic, you know care, is it weekly, is it different per person.

MS: It’s like different per person for sure so, we usually figure that out during the first few sessions, cause if you notice that they are holding adjustments each time then we definitely are gonna spread out the care to make to easy on the parents. If they are not, then we are gonna keep them closer together until they start to. And we also give them stuff to do at home (pause) to make that easier so that they don’t have to rely on us.

JS: Yeah

I: When I think craniosacral, I think umm little, I would like to dive in a little bit into that, if that’s okay?

MS: Yeah

I: You know lot of people hear that word and its like what is that okay(mumbling) I know a lot through watching. I didn’t know what that was and so my son kind of talked me to learn a lot more than I thought we were gonna learn. So can you talk a little bit about that and if that is different than adjustments.

MS: Sure.

JS: So, I’ll start. I’ll say that. Umm on the technical side you know, the nervous system is being fed through cerebrospinal fluid right? So it’s that fluid that bays and feeds our nervous system. When you are in balances, in, as I was saying before, the sympathetic which we call the fiber flight, its like the stress response and then the parasympathetic, the nickname for that is rest and digest. So, there are two sides of that nervous system – one that’s handling stress and one that always you know help us calm. Umm, the fluid that moves through our nervous system helps create that balance and so craniosacral adjustments, as we call them, are geared primarily towards tryin’ to create balance on both sides of the nervous system. You know that being said as Melissa was saying those treatments are super gentle and very relaxed.

MS: Umm hmm. Like as you’ve seen, its often just holding a certain position on the child or on the adult for a little bit of time, you can see their body relaxed, you can see them belly breathing kinda (enacts) like that. Umm super, super relaxing there’s that.

JS: I mean when I get craniosacral adjustments I typically fall asleep.

MS: Yeah (7:06)

I: So should we teach parents to get our kids to fall asleep? Is that the homework you give us?

JS: There are techniques for that, definitely. Yeah.

I: I know that’s a really big problem for a lot of us, especially early on in autism. The sleep factor of trying to help.

MS: I feel like that’s part of it too that calms the parents down. Not because a child’s getting adjusted or getting craniosacral or any of the techniques at our office, it’s gonna make that ride home even more relaxing. Like the kid’s not screaming or crying in the back. They’re more relaxed. So, and that transfers over into home life too so that’s huge, like Jason was saying, for everybody. Weather or not the parents choose to get treated.

I: And how long is the treatment, typically?

MS: Again, we kinda follow the family. A first visit is usually about an hour. After that, they’re usually 15 to 20 minutes but sometimes more, if it takes the child…particularly first or second visit. If it takes more to get on the table, if they need to run around the playroom, we create that space so that they have whatever they need.

JS: It’d also be shorter if, you know, they’re happy to get on and they climb aboard and we do our thing so, again, it’s kind of flexible for us.

MS: Yeah.

I: I know, at least with my experience, and I’m curious about your take on this. We had some issues with fluid in the ear. When he was younger and they wanted to put tubes in his ear and…in his ears, I should say. And so I went online like all of us moms do, and I googled to see, well, I didn’t want to have the tubes put in. Was there an alternative method? So we were on the waiting list for surgery and it took about 25 days out or so. And so in that meantime I found a chiropractor because I read that sometimes helps so I thought, “Gosh! I might as well try it, right.” And so I found someone. We did do it, I think it was like five days a week I decided to be really intense with it.

JS: Give it a shot and go for it.

I: Yeah. And we went in the day before surgery to have them look, you know they had to check right before. And the doctor looked at me, and he said, “What have you been doing?” And I’m like, “What’re you talking about?” I said we were going to the chiropractor and he said, “No way. That’s not possible. And there was no fluid.

JS: It’s a coincidence.

I: Yeah. Apparently it was a coincidence. There was no fluid and we had to cancel surgery the next day. Now, I’m going to attribute that to the only thing I did. LIke, there was nothing else I did. So have you seen that ever in your practice?

MS: Yes. We’ve seen it often. We have people come in specifically for that, to try it. We also have people come in that are like, “Listen, I’m dead set. I’m getting the tubes. Like I wanna use both sides of medicine and we think that’s great. And we just do whatever we can to support the system because often they won’t have as much fluid when they go in. And so they’ll do better from the procedure anyway. But yeah, we see it all the time. That’s one of the main things kids come in for.

I: Really? That makes me feel better.

MS: And again, it’s just, we’re just helping their system work better. So it’s not like we’re getting rid of the fluid. We’re just allowing the body to do what it’s trying to do.

I: What I think about chiropractic, I think it’s really, at least this last decade, you’re hearing more and more about it at least in the general public. And it’s really acceptable, compared to what it used to be. It didn’t seem, it almost felt, more alternative and I feel like it’s really become more mainstream now.

MS: Definitely.

I: And how do people find you guys again? Do you guys have a website?

MS: Our website is We’re pretty much referral, word of mouth.

JS: Yeah. Like 90 percent word of mouth, pretty much across the board. You know, there are other techniques and things. So between like the detox that we do, sometimes people find us through that particular program.

I: Okay.

JS: We also have hyperbaric and that’s a separate business, a separate website also so people find us that way and then end up coming in and it’s like “Oh, you also do this and do that”, so there’s some combination of that.

I: So a child with autism, that you’d treat, you’re looking at detox you’re looking at adjustments, you’re looking at hyperbarics as well. Can we talk a little bit about that?

MS: And the functional neurology too.

JS: Again, yeah. Functional neurology is a big part. So again, really, it’s all about the child and their needs so some kids we have a pretty good idea that hyperbaric is something that’s gonna dramatically change their story sooner than later so start there. Somebody else, we might get you know, metal tests back or other environmental toxin tests back or other allergy tests back and realise you know that really to calm the immune system first we have to do some detoxification, we have to clear things out of their system before we can do hyperbaric or before you know. So between, you know, dietary changes, adjustments, hyperbaric, I mean we offer a variety of tools but again it comes down to each case, each kid, each story.

MS: Part of what we like about offering a variety of tools is we don’t have a set protocol. So, you know, we may have two people come in that are connected, that are friends, and their kids will receive completely different care based on what they need. And you know, having all these tools allows us to do that so it’s not like cookie-cutter treatment for anybody.

I: That’s fantastic. And especially, it sounds as though you have many different resources, almost like a menu, you know.

MS: Yeah yeah.

JS: I mean we try, you know. Not to necessarily be everyone’s answer, but like Melissa’s saying, we feel better knowing that here’s each tool, and it’s great on its own and at some point along their journey a child may visit a few of those different tools or even need a few at the same time. But the more we can offer, you know the more solution. I know these parents are typically very stressed, they’ve already been to eleven or twelve or a hundred doctors. They’ve spent a lot of money and time. You know, trying to simplify things for parents is a big part of our goal.

MS: What is nice too is, with a lot of these tools under one roof, we’re all collaborating, so the parents and the families really have a team. Like the functional neurologist is in contact with the person doing craniosacral who’s in contact with the person delivering HBOT, who’s in contact with the person doing detox. So it’s this whole team approach, where we’re all working together so everybody knows what’s going on.

I: That’s fantastic. Well, you know, if you have one message, for these families that are just maybe just first getting their diagnosis for the first time. It’s really scary you know. You’re told your child has autism and there’s really no map or no guide that tells you what to do after that. What message could you give those parents?

MS: I would say, go with your heart, go with your gut. I’d say there’s a lot out there, don’t ever give up hope. Find the people that you feel good about, that you trust. And always, always trust your gut.

JS: Similar. I think we need a team. We need a team of people who we can trust. Uh, we have to work together on that team you know, it’s always gonna be a collaborative effort amongst the doctors and the parents. And I’d also say that, you know, many times you know, we try let’s say gluten free diet for a month. Well that didn’t seem to work so now we try dairy free diet for like a month and well, I’m not sure if that worked either so then we try hyperbaric for a month and then maybe it helped a little bit but I’m not sure. A lot of times, it’s the synergy of multiple things happening simultaneously in some of these cases. I’m just using these as examples but it might be you had to be gluten and dairy free, it had to be simultaneous you know. Or you know it was a combination of craniosacral to control the nervous system while you’re detoxing and getting hyperbaric and I’m not, you know, each case again is different but if you do enough work ahead of time to understand…

MS: Which pieces are important together

JS: Which pieces are important, yeah.

MS: So we’re not just shooting in the dark

JS: So you got a program of okay here, I’m understanding a bigger picture why we are in this place and now I have a plan of action that’s gonna put together all those pieces. I think that’s probably one of the most important things.

I: I absolutely agree. It’s definitely a team effort and there are so many pieces to this puzzle. And thank you guys so much for being one of those pieces. Thank you so much.

JS and MS: Thank you.

Conference | Pediatrics