ooking back on my life I realize that God had been preparing me for this moment through many simple and yet impactful experiences. Never would have I thought that one of the main reasons for going to school to become a Chiropractic Physician would include a path of pursuing answers, solutions and hope for individuals with autism and for their family members. But that is exactly what has happened. I have a huge place in my heart and a strong desire for serving those with autism.
Truthfully, I didn’t ‘choose’ this path. It never was on my radar. My very first experience with autism was when I was in High School and I learned that the older sister of one of my friends had two sons with autism. I had never heard of autism prior to that time, and the little I knew about it was that it was a neurological disorder and that it was a chronic condition that would be with someone the rest of their life. A few years later my mother got remarried and two of my step sisters each had a son that was on the spectrum. One of the boys, McKay, would be considered high functioning on the spectrum, and the other boy, Jorelle, was low functioning and required constant support and supervision. During our family gatherings and holiday parties I would observe the intense challenge and difficulty it was to care for Jorelle. It literally was like having a full court press on in a basketball game for the entire game! Anyone who has ever played basketball can understand how exhausting that can be. If you even looked the other way for a brief moment Jorelle would be putting his hands in the food and wiping it on the walls or on the floors. He was nonverbal and so communication was very difficult. Someone literally had to be by his side every second. My heart went out to my step sister and her family. Autism became very real and personal at that moment, and it was then that I realized how complicated, challenging and exhausting it can be to have a child with autism. Not only is autism a challenge for the individual, but it truly affects each and every family member. I admire and have such great respect for all of the parents, siblings and grandparents of a child with autism. Those moments allowed me to have compassion, patience and a better understanding of the seriousness of autism. Even after those experiences I still never had any thought that serving individuals with autism would be a part of my future. Fast forward several years later while I was in chiropractic school. I was in my last term prior to graduation and I had traveled to a seminar focused on functional medicine and utilizing diet, nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle factors for helping people overcome chronic illness. It had been a great week of amazing speakers and great information. I was learning so much. But from all of that there was one experience that had a profound impact on me – one that has stuck with me years later which would also be the primary catalyst to why I chose to help individuals with autism. One of the doctors that spoke shared a personal experience that he had serving a 3 year old child with autism in his practice. This child was all over the place, unable to self regulate, he wouldn’t look into your eyes, he never showed affection to his family, and it was very hard for him to sit still. The doctor was able to catch all of this on film in his office to demonstrate what his behavior was like initially. The doctor then provided the child’s mother with a specific plan focused on diet, gut health, nutrition and supplementation. Over time the child returned with his mother for a follow-up and there were some drastic changes for the better that took place. Thankfully the doctor filmed this visit because if I hadn’t seen a video of this interaction with the child I don’t know that I would have believed what the doctor shared with us. After following the recommended plan, this child that had difficulty communicating, interacting with others, and was all over the place was now able to sit down calmly looking at a book and for the first time told his mother that he loved her. In my mind when I saw what had occurred I was in shock. I was always told that autism was a life sentence of neurological challenges until death. This was the first time that I had ever seen a reversal of symptoms and improved behavior in a child with autism. My heart had been pricked and I was in awe knowing at that moment that a diagnosis of autism does not have to be the destiny of that child. As wonderful as that experience was I still hadn’t ever considered me serving anyone with autism and never thought to do so either. That possibility still had never crossed my mind. Afterall, I was thinking that when in practice I would focus on chiropractic, functional medicine and functional movement for helping the average person have a higher quality of life. But God had different plans for me. One night, my 2 year old daughter had awoken me from sleep crying for a bottle. I was happy to get up and provide this for my little girl as my sweet wife at the time was pregnant with twins. I prepared a bottle of warm milk for my daughter and while I was sitting with her in my arms feeding her this bottle I had clear spiritual impression come to my mind. I felt that God was telling me that he needed me to serve his children with autism and that they needed someone to care for them and to help provide hope for them. Autism was growing in prevalence and God had asked me to join him in this journey. That night was December 30, 2012. I had graduated only a couple of weeks before and I hadn’t even obtained my license to practice yet in the state of Utah. In my mind when I received that message and invitation, regretfully I pushed it aside and thought to myself, “That would be great, but I haven’t even started practicing and I don’t even know where I am going to practice yet.” I really didn’t even consider that to be a real option since my wife and I currently had three kids with twins on the way and I just needed to start making some money to provide for our family. Heavenly Father is so patient and loving though. He would later get my attention in a more powerful and stronger way.
In 2013 I started working for another doctor which was a short term commitment of six months. Afterwards I decided to start my own practice in October of 2013, which was a leap of faith for me and my family, but again I knew Heavenly Father was behind it so I knew it would work out. Not even a month into having started my own practice is when the message and invitation from God to serve children with autism returned, but this time it was very clear and very strong that this is what God wanted me to do. I had no excuse and no reason to not move forward at this point. Of course it was still my ultimate decision, but with everything in my life whenever I have decided to listen to Heavenly Father and what He expects from me and then I obey and go forward in faith I have always been blessed and I have always seen joy and goodness come from it, so now was no different. But there were still some obvious obstacles and challenges. Although I accepted God’s invitation, I still felt clueless as to how I would go about serving and helping children with autism. At that moment I started reading books on autism and I began keeping my eyes and ears wide open to be ready to see or hear anything out there that other doctors were doing which led to positive changes in the lives of these children. I truly was on a mission seeking knowledge, skills and understanding on how to become more confident in being able to help these children and their families. I realized how sacred and special this responsibility was and I often found myself concerned, worried and unsure of myself because I knew how much trust and hope a parent would be putting into me for allowing me to serve their child. To me that trust really was something I wanted to hold as sacred. At times though, my fear of not being ‘perfect’ or not having the ‘perfect’ plan would paralyze me into not taking action because of concern for not delivering the way I would want to with the families I served. I later realized that whatever care I provided that was beneficial to them would be better than nothing. From 2013 to the present I continue to search for more education, insight, knowledge, skills, tools, technology and resources that may be of value to helping a child with autism. Many of those insights and knowledge I have gained will be shared in later chapters in the book, so stay tuned! I have literally invested well over $100k in my pursuit. Almost every workshop, seminar, piece of equipment I purchase every business decision I currently make has the purpose of serving those with autism in mind. Why? Because I know this is one of my callings in life that God has placed on me, and I don’t want to let him down or his children down. Having served many families with children that have autism I feel so fortunate to be able to interact with some of the most amazing people on this earth. The love, commitment, dedication and the blood, sweat and tears that parents are giving to their children is one of the most admirable things I have ever witnessed. I find great joy as I serve and then to see the positive changes in each child I serve.
My vision and goal are to help every child with autism become the happiest, healthiest version of themselves and to help these children be able to live independent, happy lives and contribute to society in a positive way in the future. One key thing I strive to always remember is the scriptural wisdom the Lord shared, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts,” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Why do I share this? Because I don’t try to play God or try to know why we experience some of the highs and lows in life. And because of that I strive to do everything in my power to help someone’s situation become better than it currently is with the intention to always shoot for the moon, but to ultimately trust God’s will and his timing. Also, no one health practitioner or field of health has no monopoly on providing care for any one individual. I know what I am capable of, and I also know my limitations. We have all heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well I believe when it comes to serving children with autism a similar saying would be true, “It takes a village of healthcare providers, therapists, teachers, and family members to serve and raise a child with autism!” We all can contribute in a positive way to making a difference and providing hope, peace of mind, confidence and freedom to children with autism and to their family members, especially their parents.
Please join me in taking this journey to help serve the wonderful children and individuals with autism. Unfortunately, autism is growing at an alarming rate, and something has to be done now to help all the families involved and that will be involved. I’m certain you will be enlightened as you read and see the many possibilities that are available for children with autism.