Jennifer Kozek LPC offers holistic misophonia advice. Jennifer is an author, therapist, and mother.
What is your field of expertise?
I am a board-certified psychotherapist with a Master of Science in Counseling and a Bachelor’s degree in English/Criminal Justice. I have worked in private practice for over 16 years treating clients with an array of mental health disorders including Asperger’s, depression, anxiety, SPD, OCD and ADHD.
Do you believe that sensory issues (SPD), Misophonia and autism disorders are on the rise?
Absolutely Yes! We are facing an epidemic. The number of children diagnosed with an autism or a related disorder has grown exponentially. This is a crisis. In 1975, about one out of every 5,000 children had autism. Today, one in every 17 children have a life threatening food allergy, and even more have numerous food sensitivities. About 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from the CDC. Some estimate that it is closer to 1 in 45 boys. 1 in every 10 boys are being medicated for ADHD; the CDC reports that as much as 1 in 6 children have some sort of developmental disorder. Also, research studies conducted by the SPD Scientific Work Group suggest that 1 in every 6 children experience sensory symptoms that may be significant enough to affect aspects of everyday living. This was unheard of a few decades ago. All of these disorders are closely tied.
Do you believe that our environment is leading to an increase of these disorders? Are our modern dietary practices and harmful food chemicals contributing to autism spectrum disorders and sensory problems?
Unequivocally, YES! The issues are systemic. We are living in a toxic world. All of the toxins in our food and environment were making us sick. All of the pollutants, including chemicals, dyes, artificial ingredients, genetically modified foods and heavy metals are what our American culture is now built upon. These pollutants are integrated into every aspect of our lives from the toxins in our atmosphere, to the foods we eat to the medications we take to the clothes we wear to the cosmetics we use. We are poisoning ourselves, and the consequences are starting to show with the incredible rise of neurological issues, and diseases like cancer, asthma, diabetes, and countless autoimmune disorders like autism.
In addition, our poor diets, depleted soil and processed food is completely void of any whole food nutrients and loaded with neurotoxic chemicals. When tested we discover, most of the persons with such disorders are completely deficient in important brain minerals, vitamins and amino acids that create our feel good hormones and help our brain fire properly. Remember: Bad gasoline causes engine damage and poor performance, and an empty gas tank cannot run at all!
Holistic misophonia opportunities may be tough to spot, but it is a matter of trial and error.
I have discovered that although well intentioned, many mainstream doctors are too quick to prescribe medication to cover up symptoms without digging deeper to find the underlying causes and numerous nutritional deficiencies often plaguing us. I am here to say, there is no such thing as a genetic epidemic. Everyone must become educated about the causes of these disorders, so that we can start appropriate treatment as early as possible.
So, it’s not just genetics? How else does our environment affect us?
When we seek help from a naturopath, Defeat Autism Now doctor, Integrative Neurologist, Functional Medicine Doctor or a Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs doctor, it becomes more obvious. Testing reveals that many of our children have numerous genetic mutations. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Accumulating evidence points to the involvement of epigenetic modifications as foundational in creating ASD pathophysiology.”
The environment in which we live and breathe, genetically modified foods and the chemicals we eat and inject have a direct influence on the expression of our genetic code, by altering the expression of genetic information. In the study of disease, researchers in the field of epigenetics are increasingly finding that the “turning “on or off” our genes are preventing us from detoxing these toxins effectively. These mutations inhibit the body’s ability to digest food, transport substances between cells, and utilizing important nutrients appropriately.
According to Raphael Bernier, the lead author, and UW associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the clinical director of the Autism Center at Seattle Children’s. “Our children have multiple mutations, perhaps hundreds, yet to be discovered.” Bernier suggests that a diagnosis solely based on behavioral analysis, is missing an important component. Testing genetic mutations could guide families on how to better care for themselves and their children.
What is Sensory Processing Disorder and Misophonia?
Sensory integration disorder and Misophonia are not recognized in the DSM-5; however, many will agree that it is a very real condition. It is neurologically based and causes difficulties with taking in, processing, and responding to environmental stimuli. It occurs when sensory signals are not received through the senses in an organized way. This can cause inappropriate responses, behavioral problems, anxiety, and challenges in performing everyday tasks.
Specifically, Misophonia is a relatively unexplored chronic condition in which a person experiences autonomic arousal (analogous to an involuntary “fight-or-flight” response) to certain innocuous or repetitive sounds such as chewing, pen clicking, and lip smacking. Misophonics report anxiety, panic, and rage when exposed to trigger sounds, compromising their ability to complete everyday tasks and engage in healthy and normal social interactions.
How did you first hear about Misophonia?
I first learned about Misophonia from numerous parents through social media. It appeared that a severe sound sensitivity often goes hand in hand with sensory integration disorders and other spectrum disorders. Interestingly, since discovering the name for this disorder, I have learned that many of my clients have it – along with my own father. It appears although I knew it existed, I didn’t have a name for it until now.
In regard to a holistic approaches, what do you suggest to help alleviate the harshness of sensory stimuli?
Although we are all bio-individual and it is never a one-size-fits all, and there is no magic bullet. I suggest finding doctors that can conduct a complete metabolic workup and reinforce the importance of gut healing. This is such a key component in my day-to-day conversation with those who are trying to heal themselves and their children. A workup would include testing for metabolic, immunologic and digestive conditions. Unfortunately, only addressing one piece of the puzzle often yields a less than positive outcome.
Traditionally, ADHD and autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed by therapists such as myself, psychologists, and psychiatrists, who recommend traditional therapy and medications to address neurological symptoms. Parents are told that their child’s diagnosis is complex and multifactorial in nature; a result of genetic, psychological and others factors widely unknown. Most doctors are taught to treat the emotional and mental component of these disorders with medication. Yet, the physical or medical issues these children often share are rarely noted or discussed. Some of those include eczema, asthma, chronic illness, gastrointestinal distress, food sensitivities, yeast overgrowth, leaky gut syndrome, malnutrition, hypoglycemia, adrenal fatigue, hormone imbalances, and sleep disturbances. Typically, proper testing also reveals high levels of heavy metal and environmental toxins relative to neurotypical children. Holistic misophonia opportunities may be tough to spot, but it is a matter of trial and error.
What are some of the other important things to keep in mind & investigate when treating SPD & Misophonia?
The following holistic misophonia advice should be followed with the oversight of an experienced doctor.
- A good start is to eliminate all processed food from the diet and limit exposure to as many environmental toxins as possible. These foods & environmental triggers contribute to a child’s sensory, attention, mood, focus, and sleep issues.
- It’s important to be consistent with your treatment strategies and goals. Treating intestinal permeability and other issues may take time, hard work and perseverance. E.g. If you need to eliminate certain offending foods as part of the protocol – cheating will delay the healing process!
- Test for PANS/PANDAS – caused by Lyme Disease or untreated Strep infection.
- Identify and treat any mineral deficiencies. Magnesium and potassium deficiency can be linked to fatigue, weakness, irritability, and sensory integration issues as well as depression, and anxiety. Minerals help to send signals through the nervous system.
- Aluminum toxicity and other heavy metals can lead to sensory issues.
- Homeopathic remedies such as Nux Vomica is used to treat irritability, impatience, digestive ailments, insomnia, and sensory integration issues.
- Essential Omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies can lead to SPD.
- Investigate genetic mutations. If an individual has the MAO-A mutation balancing and regulating serotonin levels becomes a very important factor in managing people with sensory system imbalances such as touch, sound, etc.
- Therapeutic message, cranial sacral therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture and other bodywork practices are also worth a try.
And the most important advice I can give is to TRUST YOUR GUT! You know your child and your own body best. Our intuition is our best guide.