I always knew Jonathan wasn’t like most children his age. From the age of two he began having extreme temper tantrums and meltdowns that would leave us both exhausted. As he got to the age of three he wasn’t talking and had severe speech delay. He would become frustrated by not being able to communicate with me and became aggressive. I felt very judged when we were out in public as Jonathan would lash out at me. He was extremely impulsive and would run across the road, refuse to hold my hand, and I was a nervous wreck trying to get him from A to B. I would make excuses not to see friends and never go on play dates in fear of his behaviour. I kept him in a buggy until he was four as I was so concerned for his safety near roads.
When he started school Jonathan's teachers told me that they noticed certain behaviour traits that were of concern. I received a report from the SENCO department stating that he couldn’t concentrate or sit still, he bit his finger all the time, and had ticks, made sudden outbursts, had poor expressive language, was a loner, and didn’t play with the other children, couldn’t write, couldn’t get dressed – the list went on. They felt the school wasn’t suitable for Jonathan and we had to look for a specialist school that would support him more. The whole experience left me incredibly emotional. I was introduced to Dr Rachel Gow through a friend. Dr Gow made us both feel very comfortable and reassured me that we would get to the bottom of what was causing all the behavioural problems with Jonathan. Firstly Dr Gow referred me to a Psychiatrist and Paediatric Neuropsychologist. She visited the school, carried out an in-depth classroom observation, and conducted careful interviews and standardised questionnaires with Jonathan’s teachers, as well as cross referring him to her network of professionals including Clinical and Educational Psychologists. Jonathan was sent for a full nutritional evaluation at a London-based laboratory for testing. Dr Gow also carried out a preliminary screening of ADHD. The collective assessments resulted in multiple diagnoses. Jonathan, aged four, was diagnosed with ADHD, speech and language delay, global developmental delay and sensory processing disorder.
Dr Gow had also advised me to have Jonathan tested for any food allergies, and to start him on a high dose of omega-3. I discovered that he was allergic to a number of foods and deficient in many vitamins. His omega-3 levels were incredibly low for a child of his age. Rachel reassured me by changing his diet and increasing his omega-3 I should notice a difference in his behaviour in a few months’ time. Jonathan is a very fussy eater, but Dr Gow gave us a nutrition plan with recipes for healthy meals that would be colourful and fun for him. I was given tips on how to get him to eat his vegetables and any other foods he refused to eat.
With Dr Gow’s guidance and professional advise on coping with ADHD I have learnt how to deal with Jonathan’s difficult behaviour. She advised me to use visual timetables, reward charts, positive reinforcement, persistence and repetition were amongst some of the things we practiced. Along with the change in diet and tips on managing Jonathan's behaviour over a period of time the tantrums became less and less, he was able to sit still for longer periods and he was listening to me more and we were finally able to walk along the road with him holding my hand.
Unfortunately for Jonathan his school still wasn't able to support his needs. Rachel liaised with both the school and local education authority to request a statutory assessment, and then started the process of obtaining an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). Jonathan needed one-on one support, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, social skills and anger management. It wasn't easy as the system is designed to make parents to give up. The council doesn’t have enough budget and there are delays in the system. It was a long road. It was extremely emotional having to appeal and fight for what Jonathan deserved in order to support his education. Dr Gow helped me all the way, and the EHCP was finally accepted at the end of summer 2019. So, thankfully, Jonathan is now at a different school thanks to Dr Gow’s research and advice. With an EHCP, extra support and changed diet he is now thriving.
Meanwhile, Rachel has helped me by providing behaviour and sleep management techniques as well as on-going nutritional support. I feel incredibly luckily to have found her, and I will be forever grateful for her wealth of knowledge, helping Jonathan and I and changing both our lives.
Nutritious Minds Trust is a registered charity, registration number 1206658