Archives for posts with tag: sensory

A Look at ADHD
Jason Clopton, O.D., F.C.O.V.D., A.B.O. & Heidi Clopton, OTR/L
Center of Vision Comprehensive Vision Care and Therapies
Center of Development Pediatric Therapies
1445 East 10th St. Cookeville, TN 38501
931-372-2020 &


“ADHD Does Not Exist” – Wow, now that’s a book title that will get your attention!

Dr. Richard Saul released this book a month ago and has been on many media circuits explaining his title. He is no newbie to the world of ADHD. Dr. Saul was a pioneer in the diagnosis and treatments of ADHD way back in the 1970’s. He explains this provocative title in the intro to the book. Dr. Saul states, “Attention related symptoms are all too real, with negative consequences for children, adults, and broader society; those affected face challenges in academic, professional, and social settings, often with lifelong repercussions.

But the medical establishment’s reliance on the ADHD diagnosis- and the medical community’s embrace of it- has also had several negative consequences: the failure to diagnose underlying conditions that explain attention symptoms in whole or part; the omission of much-needed treatment for those primary diagnosis; the health related, economic, and emotional costs of undiagnosed and hence untreated conditions.”

Diagnosis- The diagnosis for ADHD is a very subjective diagnosis, often a checklist of symptoms. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition was released in 2013 and lowered the number of symptoms needed and raised the age to 12 yrs from 7yrs which will result in more children qualifying for the diagnosis now. Dr. Saul raises the question to the medical, psychological, and educational community, “What if the symptoms of ADHD can be explained fully by other conditions? Once I treated what I saw as the primary diagnosis (the non-ADHD diagnosis) the ADHD symptoms usually disappeared…”.

Research is showing many co-morbid conditions that go along with ADHD that are often not the “focus” as the primary treatment due to 2/3rds of those with ADHD use medications as their only treatment. With 20% of high school aged boys and 7% of the total population with this diagnosis it is vital to find what could be an underlying condition that is mimicking ADHD symptoms. Are the short and long term side effects of stimulant medications worth it when the child may have another issue causing them to look inattentive, hyperactive, and/or impulsive?

Top Underlying Causes of Inattention, Hyperactivity, and Impulsiveness:

1. Vision Problems- “Eyestrain can make classroom attention impossible” reads the subtitle of an online article published by the Children’s Vision Information Network. 20% of school children suffer vision problems that make it difficult for them to sustain focus on academic tasks or near focus tasks. Eye-teaming, meaning how the eyes coordinate with each other, is often not checked in routine vision exams. Children with Convergence Insufficiency (CI) have been researched to show the same symptoms as ADHD.

60% of students identified as “problem learners” have CI. 5-12% of the population have CI. Tennessee only requires a vision “screening” once they entire school yearly, but vision screenings reportedly only catch about 20% of visual issues. The other 80% of students are left feeling like they passed their vision test…when they actually desperately need a comprehensive vision exam from an eye doctor to determine their visual acuity, convergence, eye muscle control, visual perceptual skills, and many more visual skills needed to focus all day in a classroom or even an adult focusing on a computer screen!

The good news is that these conditions are easily treated and backed by research through a comprehensive vision exam, lenses and/or neuro-visual therapies.

2. Sleep Disorders- “Sleep Deprivation Creating a Nation of Walking Zombies” this ABC news article will get your attention too! We are not quite The Walking Dead yet…but if we continue our addictions to gaming, electronics, caffeine, lack of exercise, poor diets, and keep neglecting our basic need for good sleep it is quite scary to think of what a sleep deprived nation would look like! The National Institutes of Health notes: “Sleep deprivation can cause daytime hyperactivity and decreased focused attention. This can be mistaken for ADHD or other behavior disorders in children”. The Mayo Clinic states the following as the right amount of sleep for age groups: Infants 14-15 hrs, Toddlers 12-14 hrs, Schoolchildren 10-11 hrs, and Adults 7-9 hrs.

3. Hearing Problems- “It’s like hearing underwater!” This is a common explanation for how children with sinus issues, allergies, and ear infections hear their environment. No wonder it is so easy for them to “tune out” and not pay attention to the teacher! Hearing and auditory processing are vital parts of our social and educational lives. Over 80% of what a child does in a school day will rely on listening to verbal directions. Hearing problems can result from underdeveloped or damaged inner ear or auditory nerve, prevention of sound waves reaching the inner ear, and as simple as built up wax or multiple ear infections. Central Auditory Processing Disorder is also a newer diagnosis that is the cause of symptoms that look like ADHD.

4. Learning Disabilities- 5-15% of children suffer from a learning disability. Many of the issues that children with ADHD have are often a learning disability that has not been diagnosed. The DSM-V requires one of the following symptoms to be present for 6 months or more to diagnose a learning disability: inaccurate or slow reading, difficulty understanding the meaning of written text, spelling issues, difficulty with written expression, significant challenges with number sense, and/or problems with math reasoning. Getting a proper psychological evaluation that includes IQ testing and visual perceptual skills is vital if your child has symptoms of ADHD.

5. Sensory Processing Disorder- SPD can be diagnosed when an individual has symptoms in multiple areas that involve challenges integrating sensory information and responding to it appropriately. This can be either over or under responsiveness to sensory stimuli, craving of excessive movement, difficulty filtering out background sensory stimuli, or in-coordination that results in avoidance behaviors of writing or fine motor tasks. The potential to confuse SPD as ADHD is so great that a 2007 Time magazine article about SPD was titled, “The Next ADHD?” Sensory processing trained occupational therapists in medical based outpatient clinics are the primary evaluation and treatment source for SPD.

6. Other Conditions- Dr. Saul lists many other conditions in depth in his book that can mimic ADHD. These include but are not limited to: Seizures, Substance Abuse, Mood Disorders, Giftedness or high IQ, OCD, Tourette’s Syndrome, Asperger Syndrome (now included under Autism diagnosis), Neuro-chemical issues, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and biomedical issues. Food sensitivities, nutrient and vitamin deficiencies can often cause ADHD like symptoms.

Something as simple as low iron can cause symptoms of ADHD. A 2004 study in France found that 84% of children with ADHD had low serum iron. When given an iron supplement and vitamin C to help absorb the iron their symptoms improved drastically.

A Dutch study in 2011 used food elimination diets to research the effects of special diets for ADHD. This study showed decreased ADHD symptoms for 64% of the children to the point that they would no longer qualify for the ADHD label.

Several research studies have shown improved word reading, spelling, and attention benefits from DHA supplements. Since our American diet is lacking in enough clean and healthy fish, proteins, veggies and fruits it is no wonder that the rise in ADHD could be mistaken for a decline in the American diet.

Too much electronic time and not enough exercise, free play and movement time have also been shown in research to cause ADHD like symptoms.

The take away from this provocative book is that Dr. Saul wants our doctors, therapists, educators, psychologists, and most importantly our families in America to not conform to the “fast paced” diagnosis of ADHD. He urges us to take the time to listen to all of your child’s needs, explore all the possible underlying issues, and do not be hasty in giving out a diagnosis and treatment that may have long term effects on your child. Finding the appropriate diagnosis and treatment for ADHD like symptoms will be a much more accurate treatment plan with a lifetime benefit…and no side effects!

cute picture of hands with paintSensory Issues…when to worry, when to intervene, and when to relax.

We all have them… those little “quirks” that make you feel “wigged out” or “stressed out”. It may be the way your skin crawls at the sight of a centipede, walking barefoot in the grass, or wearing wool. You may need to cut out those irritating tags in your shirts. Maybe you get overwhelmed with all the kids talking (or screaming) in the car and can’t wait for the peace and quiet. You may crave a massage, neck or back rub to calm down. Your children have sensory preferences too. Some like to swing fast, some like to rock and be held, and some love to jump on a trampoline to feel calm and organized.

But when does a “sensory preference” become “Sensory Processing Disorder”?
Children and adults can suffer from sensory issues that affect their daily life skills and their social interactions. These issues are far more interfering than that pesky shirt tag. When a sensory issue has crossed the line into interfering with daily life with how an individual acts or reacts to their environment, then it is considered a “disorder” not a “quirk”.

This is the child that cannot tolerate playing with other children at a party due to being overly sensitive to sounds, touch, or movement. Or it may be the infant that cannot be consoled by typical rocking, massage, or being held. It’s the child who doesn’t sit still, fidgets and squirms, and craves wrestling, jumping, running, and climbing in excess. Many adults suffer from sensory issues that affect their daily life and limit them in the ability to socialize or even connect in personal relationships. When you are fighting daily over what your child needs to wear, eat, or their ability to tolerate normal grooming then it’s time to get some help.

Newest Research on SPD
Sensory Processing Disorder or “SPD” is a term used in the therapy community to describe a group of symptoms in which an individual’s nervous system over or under reacts or misinterprets sensations of touch, taste, smell, sounds, vision, movement, and muscles/joints. SPD is more prevalent in children than autism and as common as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, yet the condition receives far less attention partly because it’s never been recognized as a distinct disease. In a groundbreaking new study from UC San Francisco, researchers have found that children affected with SPD have quantifiable differences in brain structure, for the first time showing a biological basis for the disease that sets it apart from other neurodevelopmental disorders. One of the reasons SPD has been overlooked until now is that it often occurs in children who also have ADHD or autism, and the disorder has not been listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual used by psychiatrists and psychologists.
“Until now, SPD hasn’t had a known biological underpinning,” said senior author Pratik Mukherjee, MD, PhD, a professor of radiology and biomedical imaging and bioengineering at UCSF. “Our findings point the way to establishing a biological basis for the disease that can be easily measured and used as a diagnostic tool,” Mukherjee said.
Therapy is available with sensory integration trained occupational therapists to help individual’s sensory systems get “organized” and learn how to make accommodations in their daily routines to help calm their sensory nerves. Many insurance companies cover these services if they are affecting daily life skills or causing developmental delays.

The following are some “red flags” for when a sensory processing therapy evaluation may be needed:
“Sensory Avoider” Reacts with fear, flight, or aggression to any typical sensations such as: unexpected touch, loud noises, textures or certain clothing on skin, screams at haircuts or hair brushing, upset by typical movement experiences such as swinging or climbing, avoids touching foods or gags at sight of new foods, cries excessively over a small bump or cut, or gets carsick easily.
“Sensory Craver” Craves excessive amounts of movement, loud voice volume, “on the go” constantly, difficulty with attention, uses too much force in touch, takes too many risks on the playground, or spins excessively. These children are constantly “on the go”!
“Clumsy” Sensory motor issues can show up as gross or fine motor skill delays such as being very accident prone, poor balance skills, low muscle tone, difficulty learning to ride a bike, catch a ball, hop on one foot, or fine motor skill delays learning to write, cut, or do fasteners.

Most children and adults with SPD are a mixture of both under and over sensitive, which explains why inconsistent behavior is a hallmark of the disorder” states Lindsey Biel, co-author of Raising a Sensory Smart Child. “It’s not an obvious diagnosis. The behavior of a child with SPD can be confused with that of a kid who may have overlapping behaviors and a different diagnosis, such as ADHD. A child who doesn’t get enough proprioception will seek ways to stimulate his muscles and joints-continuously moving, or chewing. What’s more roughly 40% of the time kids have both SPD and ADHD.” states Dr. Lucy Miller founder of the STAR Center, a SPD therapy and research center in Colorado.

Finding the right help to understand sensory issues and a therapist that knows therapeutic procedures and activities that re-wire the sensory nervous system can be the beginning of understanding your child, yourself, and helping both of you get through the sensory filled world calm and collected.
To learn more please visit: or

Heidi Clopton, Pediatric Occupational Therapist
Center of Development Pediatric Therapies

this is creeping position, not crawling

this is creeping position, not crawling

Everyone knows that Early Intervention is the key to treating children with developmental delay.
But, did you know that orthopedic and fascial conditions can also affect development as they grow?

Babies with torticollis, weakness, scoliosis, or stiffness in their muscles or fascial system can have difficulty properly developing their vision, vestibular, and balance systems.

They may also have symptoms similar to ADHD, ADD, sensory processing disorder, or autism by the time they are toddlers or preschoolers.

Babies can have fascial restrictions from birth that lead to these problems and continue to get worse as the child grows, causing pelvic obliquity, limb length discrepancy, torticollis, even progressing to scoliosis, adult arthritic conditions, and spine pain over time.

Children with pelvic obliquity and leg length discrepancy as little as 1/8” or even mild torticollis can develop scoliosis, be delayed in development of quadruped creeping, balancing, and ambulation skills.

Children with even minor torticollis or scoliosis can develop delays in vision and sensory processing that cause them to have difficulty with bilateral coordination.

Sheri Brimm, PT is now available to treat children at Center of Development. She has developed a comprehensive evaluation and treatment system which utilizes manual therapy techniques such as myofascial release and soft tissue and joint mobilization techniques, as well as traditional strengthening and sensory integration techniques to treat the whole child in a 3 dimensional manner. She has noted improvements in pelvic obliquity and movement that result in the child improving their developmental skills and balance dramatically.

Sheri is specializing in John Barnes Myofascial Release techniques and the Total Motion Release Program (by Tom Dalonzo-Baker) that work well for children and are easy to follow as a home program for parents. These techniques work!!

Early Intervention is the key to better outcomes!
The earlier we can evaluate and intervene for children 3 and under, the more improved functioning we can see by Kindergarten. Medically necessary therapies are very different than educational therapies through TEIS or school systems. Most children need both to make huge gains in development! Families rely solely on their pediatrician’s referral for medically based therapies.
Here are some “red flags” to know when to refer for medically based pediatric therapies.
Gross Motor
Any known medical diagnosis can be considered a “red flag”: Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, congenital heart condition, frequent ear infections, sensory avoiders, low muscle tone or high tone…
Newborn to 3 months old:
• Unable to turn head both ways fully or postures with sidebend of neck and trunk ( Possible torticollis or fascial restrictions causing pelvic obliquity and tightness of neck muscles)
•Breathing erratically, has excessive belly breathing, caving in at chest, appears restless, has excessive tongue thrusting (could be sign of fascial restrictions or high muscle tone)
•Constipated or having difficulty with reflux (could be sign of fascial restrictions in abdomen, pelvis, or chest area)
•Not moving arms and legs equally on both sides, not bringing hands to midline, not making eye contact, maintains arms/legs fully flexed or fully extended position (signs of muscle tone abnormalities)
Six to Nine Months:
• Not rolling by 6 months of age from supine to prone both R and L sides
• Not pushing up on straight arms, lifting his head and shoulders, by 7 months of age
• Not sitting upright in a child-sized chair by 9 months of age
• Not sitting independently by 7 months of age and falls over easily
• Not crawling (”commando” crawling–moving across the floor on his belly) by 9-10 months of age or inability to move legs or arms equally

Ten to Fourteen months:
• Not creeping (on all fours, what is typically called “crawling”) by 11 months of age or any abnormal creeping patterns like bottom shuffling or scooting.
• Not pulling to stand by 10 months of age
• Not standing alone by 12 months of age
• Not walking by 14 months of age

Age 2 years and above:
• Not jumping, kicking, catching or throwing a ball by 28 months of age
• Not independent on stairs (up and down) by 30 months of age
• “walking” their hands up their bodies to achieve a standing position
• walking on their toes, not the soles of their feet
• frequently falling/tripping, for no apparent reason
• still “toeing in” at two years of age

For referral information and insurance coverage questions, please call 931-372-2020. Centers of Development.


Pouty FaceCall 931-372-2567             FAX Orders 931-372-2572

Early Intervention is the key to better outcomes!

The earlier we can evaluate and intervene for children 3 and under, the more improved functioning we can see by Kindergarten.  Medically necessary therapies are very different than educational therapies through TEIS or school systems.  Most children need both to make huge gains in development!  Families rely solely on their pediatrician’s referral for medically based therapies.  Using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development and other standardized assessments, we can evaluate to see if a child is greater than 25% delayed and may need therapy.  The sooner we can evaluate, the sooner the family will know if therapy is going to benefit their child. 

Here are some “red flags” to know when to refer for medically based pediatric therapies.

Gross Motor

If a child is…

  Not rolling by 6 months of age

  Not pushing up on straight arms, lifting his head and shoulders, by 7 months of age

  Not sitting independently by 7 months of age

  Not crawling (”commando” crawling–moving across the floor on his belly) by 9-10 months of age

  Not creeping (on all fours, what is typically called “crawling”) by 11 months of age  or any abnormal creeping patterns like bottom shuffling or scooting.

  Not sitting upright in a child-sized chair by 9 months of age

  Not pulling to stand by 10 months of age

  Not standing alone by 12 months of age

  Not walking by 14 months of age

  Not jumping by 28 months of age

  Not independent on stairs (up and down) by 30 months of age

  “walking” their hands up their bodies to achieve a standing position

  only walking on their toes, not the soles of their feet

  frequently falling/tripping, for no apparent reason

  still “toeing in” at two years of age

  unusual creeping patterns

  any known medical diagnosis can be considered a “red flag”: Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, congenital heart condition, frequent ear infections, sensory avoiders, low muscle tone or high tone, etc. 

Fine Motor

If a child is…

  Frequently in a fisted position with both hands after 6 months of age

  Not bringing both hands to midline (center of body) by 10 months of age

  Not banging objects together by 10 months of age

  Not clapping their hands by 12 months of age

  Not deliberately and immediately releasing objects by 12 months of age

  Not able to tip and hold their bottle by themselves and keep it up, without lying down, by 12 months of age

  Still using a fisted grasp to hold a crayon at 18 months of age

  Not using a mature pincer grasp (thumb and index finger, pad to pad) by 18 months of age

  Not imitating a drawing of a vertical line by 24 months of age

  Not able to snip with scissors by 30 months

  Using only one hand to complete tasks

  Not being able to move/open one hand/arm

  Drooling during small tasks that require intense concentration

  Displaying uncoordinated or jerky movements when doing activities

  Crayon strokes are either too heavy or too light to see

  Any know medical diagnosis can be considered a “red flag”: Down’s Syndrome, cerebral palsy, low or high tone, other developmental delays.   


Cognition/Problem Solving

If a child is…

  Not imitating body action on a doll by 15 months of age (ie, kiss the baby, feed the baby)

  Not able to match two sets of objects by item by 27 months of age (ie, blocks in one container and people in another)

  Not able to imitate a model from memory by 27 months (ie, show me how you brush your teeth)

  Not able to match two sets of objects by color by 31 months of age

  Having difficulty problem solving during activities in comparison to his/her peers

  Unaware of changes in his/her environment and routine



If a child is…

  Very busy, always on the go, and has a very short attention to task

  Often lethargic or low arousal (appears to be tired/slow to respond, all the time, even after a nap)

  A picky eater

  Not aware of when they get hurt (no crying, startle, or reaction to injury)

  Afraid of swinging/movement activities; does not like to be picked up or be upside down

  Showing difficulty learning new activities (motor planning)

  Having a hard time calming themselves down appropriately

  Appearing to be constantly moving around, even while sitting

  Showing poor or no eye contact

  Frequently jumping and/or purposely falling to the floor/crashing into things

  Seeking opportunities to fall without regard to his/her safety or that of others

  Constantly touching everything they see, including other children

  Hypotonic (floppy muscles, weak grasp, poor trunk tone, usually poor motor coordination)

  Having a difficult time with transitions between activity or location

  Overly upset with change in routine

  Hates bath time or grooming activities such as; tooth brushing, hair brushing, hair cuts, having nails cut, etc.

  Afraid of/aversive to/avoids being messy, or touching different textures such as grass, sand, carpet, paint, playdoh, etc.

Sensory integration/sensory processing issues should only be diagnosed by a qualified professional (primarily, occupational therapists and physical therapists). Some behaviors that appear to be related to sensory issues are actually behavioral issues independent of sensory needs.

Possible visual problems may exist if the child…

 Does not make eye contact with others or holds objects closer than 3-4 inches from one or both eyes.  Any eye turns in or out separate from another. 

  Does not reach for an object close by

 Avoids doing near work,  poor at puzzles, and avoids eye contact


If a child is…

  Having difficulty biting or chewing food during mealtime

  Needing a prolonged period of time to chew and/or swallow

  Coughing/choking during or after eating on a regular basis

  Demonstrating a change in vocal quality during/after eating (i.e. they sound gurgled or hoarse when speaking/making sounds)

  Having significant difficulty transitioning between different food stages

  Not feeding him/herself finger foods by 14 months of age

  Not attempting to use a spoon by 15 months of age

  Not picking up and drinking from a regular open cup by 15 months of age

  Not able to pull off hat, socks or mittens on request by 15 months of age

  Not attempting to wash own hands or face by 19 months

  Not assisting with dressing tasks (excluding clothes fasteners) by 22 months

  Not able to deliberately undo large buttons, snaps and shoelaces by 34 months

Social/Emotional/Play Skills

If a child is…

  Not smiling by 4 months

  Not making eye contact during activities and interacting with peers and/or adults

  Not performing for social attention by 12 months “in their own world”

  Not imitating actions and movements by the age of 24 months

  Not engaging in pretend play by the age of 24 months

  Not demonstrating appropriate play with an object (i.e. instead of trying to put objects into a container, the child leaves the objects in the container and keeps flicking them with his fingers)

  Fixating on objects that spin or turn (i.e. See ‘n Say, toy cars, etc.); also children who are trying to spin things that are not normally spun

  Having significant difficulty attending to tasks

  Getting overly upset with change or transitions from activity to activity

Water play fun!

Water play fun!



·        Difficulty making and maintaining eye contact with an adult by 6 months

·        No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions during interaction with another person by 6 months

·        No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions by 9 months

·        No babbling by 12 months

·        No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving by 12 months

·        No consistent responding to their names by 12 months

·        No words by 16 months

·        No following simple and familiar directions by 18 months

·        No two-word meaningful phrases without imitating or repeating & says at least 50 words by 24 months 

·        No back-and-forth conversational turn-taking by 30 months

·        Any loss of speech or babbling or social skills (like eye contact) at any age


Most babies who are doing well with development exceed these milestones by leaps and bounds.  These are very, very low thresholds for all the skills listed.  If your child or patient is not meeting these basic guidelines, please don’t dismiss your feelings.   Seek professional help from your pediatrician and ask for a medical based therapy evaluation. The earlier we can evaluate, the earlier we can see improved development!   


Our “Not Cow’s Milk” Journey

I just ordered the book “Devil in the Milk” and can’t wait for it to get here! Many people think I am luny for being so excited to get a new book…but taking casein (cow’s milk protein) out of my daughter Leah’s diet was such a drastic change for her and our family that we will NEVER go back to consuming cow’s milk products.

Leah was born 17 months after our Ella Grace on Dec 26th, 2003. She was a calm baby initially and solely breast fed. We had already read on the harmful effects of cow’s milk for children and adults and never drank cow’s milk and ate little cheese at home. But…we were still eating a lot of casein (the protein in cow’s milk).

By the time Leah was 6 months old she began to eat more table foods…and her entire disposition changed. She went from our calm baby to a colicky baby. She was inconsolable many a day or night. I could not calm her. As a pediatric sensory trained OT I knew what to do to help her calm, I was an “EXPERT” in calming children with deep touch massage, linear swinging or rocking, and creating a calming environment…so I questioned myself…what could possibly be causing her to be so upset that even a Mother’s Touch could not calm her?

By age two I had accepted the idea that Leah had Autism. She didn’t make eye contact, she rarely laughed, she couldn’t stand to be hugged, she wiped away our kisses like they were toxic, she tantrumed over the smallest of things, she covered her ears to noises, and was fearful of social situations. I had tried every sensory calming tool in the box, and nothing seemed to help.

Then I realized that many of my clients had seen drastic results from a casein free diet…so why not try that before getting her labeled “Autistic”?

2 weeks after taking casein out of her diet COMPLETELY…she was becoming a different child. Less tantrums, more eye contact, and NO Eczema!
1 month after casein free she was accepting our hugs and kisses.
2 months later she was a different child…an angel…and blossoming into the beautiful little girl that we had longed for.
Now, I could do calming input, massage, brushing protocol, swinging input, and all the sensory treatments she needed to get her neurological system back in line…and healed.
We also started supplement therapies to heal her gut…Cod Liver Oil, DHA, Probiotics (milk free chewables at Good Shepard), and Magnesium. Her stools became normal by 2 months…going 2 times a day normal consistency.
No more allergies, sinus issues, no ear infections, and no eczema…and an angel child.
I thank God every day for the journey we went through and the wounds that it created…because he could HEAL those wounds with the knowledge and wisdom to be a CASEIN FREE FAMILY and now I can spread the word to so many others to help them.
6 years later…I am now doing inservices about once a month on casein free and healthy family eating and how food affects our brains, and we are what we eat…and I don’t want to be a cow! 🙂 ha!

To learn more check out the FB page:  Casein Free in Middle Tennessee

Every day I meet people who have been educated on the harmfull effects of cow’s milk and casein and they have seen drastic results in their child, themselves, and their lives are changed by this simple change.

My beautiful Leah Faith
If you have a story to tell…or questions on how to go casein free…please share on this page. I truly believe God called us to experience this with our precious Leah so that we could help others. Let us help you!

Feeding the Brain

Feeding the Brain
Heidi Clopton, Pediatric Occupational Therapist at Center of Development & Jason Clopton, Developmental Optometrist at Center of Vision

A good friend sent me a quote from Dr. Oz the other day and said it reminded her of me…”When I look at a grocery store, I’m looking at a pharmacy,” said Oz. She knows, along with all my therapists, clients, friends and family how passionate I am about the foods we eat in our family. Wasn’t it sad how much trouble he got into from just warning America about the toxins in our children’s foods?

Something isn’t right in our society when you get flack for just trying to help others make informed decisions for their health and wellness. Obviously in the last century something has changed… “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ― Hippocrates

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” ~Thomas Edison

My passion for the connection between food & brain began when I was pregnant with my first child, Ella Grace. Somehow eating what I thought was a healthy diet, I had Gestational Diabetes. I started fervently reading books and articles on nutrition and healthy pregnancies. I learned a lot about how America is being fooled into thinking we are eating healthy, when in comparison to the rest of the world, we are one of the sickest countries. I started following the Honest Food Guide, and stopped counting fast food as a real food. I learned to look at food as nutrition for my brain & body. Everything I put in my mouth, and most importantly into the mouths of my children is doing something…it should be beneficial and not harmful.
This passion became an obsession when I had my second daughter, Leah Faith. At age 2 she was scared of crowds, made little eye contact, had severe constipation, eczema, sinus issues, multiple allergies, had sleep issues, and threw tantrums often. The breaking point was at her 2nd b-day party when she cried & had to be held constantly. When everyone sang happy birthday she was covering her ears and crying. I thought…”my child has Autism or severe Sensory Processing Disorder, I need to treat this now”. I started looking at the clients in our therapy practice that were overcoming their sensory issues, autistic behaviors, ADHD, and other health issues and they all had a few treatment strategies in common. I started reading every book I could find on how the foods we eat cause, prevent, and treat disease. I have not stopped reading yet!

From that point on, I have looked at every child, every patient, and every person I encountered and their health, behavioral, and emotional issues with a new set of lenses. I had gotten a prescription for lenses that taught me to look at how everyone was feeding their brain.

For all those busy families out there, I am happy to share my version of Cliff Notes on what I have read, learned, and the common denominators from all the experts on nutritional health, neurology, gut absorption, and emotional disorders:

12 steps to Feeding the Brain
1. Feed your tummies a diet rich in purified DHA, pure water, fruits and veggies, and lean protein foods. Become an expert at juicing and you can hide all kinds of greens and fruits in a great tasting smoothie! No artificial colors, preservatives, flavor enhancers, nitrates, etc. Nothing artificial or words you don’t understand should be in your foods. Limit highly processed foods and fast foods, artificial sugars or dyes. For our family also limiting casein (diary) and gluten (wheat) products in our diet has made a dramatic difference. For a great fridge reminder on how the healthiest countries eat, print out the pyramid from

2. Limit TV, screen time, and video games to near nothing before age 3 and limit to 30 minutes a day after that. Near focus time should be saved for educational needs on computer and at school, not for “fun”. Video games should be movement based and NEVER violent. Limit to 30 minutes as a privilege that is earned…not given freely.

3. Low stress environment is vital to a child’s emotional, physical, and mental health and their IQ!

4. Create a “love for learning” environment where a child can learn, explore, have questions, and even make mistakes…but learn from their mistakes and have a love of learning. Let them learn it is okay to take intellectual risks…and learn from it. Children need to feel like they are succeeding…not failing all the time. Play family games and board games often!

5. Feed the brain myelin for faster connections, more focus, and “prune” the excessive connections by repetition, DHA daily, plenty of purified water daily, and lots of calming touch inputs. Research shows that children who are raised in a loving environment full of loving touch (hugs, being held while reading a book, etc) have a higher IQ. Memory is enhanced by deep pressure touch (massage, hugs).

6. Sensory diet rich in movement, sports, and hands on play experiences.

7. No lights or TV in room when sleeping- any light source at night, especially a TV decreases Melatonin production in the brain…you need this neurotransmitter to have good sleep cycles!

8. Supplement diet with DHA, milk-free probiotics, all natural food based multivitamin, fruit and veggie gummies, and have heavy metal, iron & iodine levels checked.

9. Goat milk based formulas best if you cannot breast feed. Goat milk is the closest animal milk to human breast milk without the high risk of food sensitivities/intolerance that comes with cow’s milk.
10. Watch intake of sugars, especially high fructose, sucrose, dextrose, maltose or any –ose sugar. These contain excitotoxins that cross the blood brain barrier disrupting production of important neurotransmitters and promote free radical damage to brain cells.
11. EXERCISE daily with 70% max heart rate aerobic exercise at least 30-60 minutes a day!
12. Learn what your child’s love language is and learn to speak it every day: Time, Touch, Words of Encouragement, Acts of Service, or Giving.

I am happy to tell you that after following this 12 step program of Feeding the Brain that Ella does not have diabetes, Leah Faith does not have Autism, and Jase is a happy healthy child. Following these recommendations I have also cured myself of many issues that I had struggled with for years.

To become an informed parent please read books by the following medical doctors who are the experts: Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD; Dr. Perlmutter, Neurologist, Dr. Bock, Dr. Kartzinel, J. Ratey, MD, Dr. Sears, and of course Dr. Oz!