Dr. Nicole Beurkens, founder and director of the Horizons Developmental Resource Center, has written the book I wish I had read when I was first struggling to find a pathway for treating Stink’s Tourette Syndrome.
Let’s face it, if you’ve read this blog, you know I was overwhelmed with fear, anxiety and worry about what a Tourette’s diagnosis would entail. Would I be able to help manage my son’s tics? Would Stink be able to self-regulate? How would I work with teachers, doctors and family? How could I help with diet and exercise? Beurkens’ book answers all these questions with the brain of a doctor and the heart of a mother.
In her own words, “My philosophy is that first and foremost these are children – they are not symptoms, problems or diagnoses.” Knowing that Beurkens not only has children of her own, but a background in special education and psychology, made me trust her.
A Road Map to Special Needs
Life WILL Get Better serves as an easy-to-understand guide on how to navigate complicated behavior and emotional issues ranging from ADHD to Autism, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Bipolar and more. What makes this book so appealing is that Beurkens provides an overview with takeaways in every chapter. Just some of the items she covers in her book includes:
- Sugar and artificial sweetners
- Chemicals and allergens
- The importance of movement
- How to stay calm as a parent
- The importance of connection
- Coping skills (for the parent and child
Peppered throughout the book are anecdotes of kids (ranging from very young to out of high school) who have used Beurkens’ simple tips with great success. Just a few techniques that Beurkens suggest include, but are far from limited to:
- Going gluten and dairy free
- Including fatty acids into the diet
- Taking out all food dyes and harmful additives (buh bye MSG)
- How to get your kid to listen without nagging (from bedtime to exercise)
- The importance of drinking more water
- The value of meaningful connection
- How to set limits with screen time
Beurkens’ book is not preachy in the slightest. This is what I’d consider a “starter” kit to the beginning of your child’s personal journey.
Find the Chapter That Best Suits You and Dive In!
My suggestion to you as a reader would be to find out what you relate to most and then dive deeper into that area. (Chapters are self-contained so it’s easy to skip around to topics that most relate to your situation.)
For example, at one point in the book, Beurkens discusses the connection between the gut and brain function. “In fact, the gut is now referred to as the ‘second brain’ because of how intrinsically the gut and brain communicate. The gut comprises the bulk of your immune system, and also is the location where serotonin and other important neuro chemicals are produced. The microorganisms in your gut play a critical role in your mood, behavior and cognition.” (page 16, Chapter 2)
Given that Tourettes is an immune disorder, this strikes a chord in me as I’ve been toying with the idea of a GAPS diet for quite some time. (More on GAPS later!) Because she and I are on the same page when it comes to the connection between the gut and my kid’s behavior, I felt more inclined to trust her tips in later chapters, even if these weren’t tips I’d normally have thought of myself. (Example: How to establish better bed time routines or incorporate movement into a teenagers screen time without being too tyrannical.)
Dr. Beurkens is the Real Deal
Having also spoken with Dr. Beurkens over the phone, I can personally testify to her warmth, smarts and knowledge on everything from the stress special needs can place on family dynamics to her science based approach to alternative healthcare.
If you want a book that discusses the crazy ride it can be to go from freaking out over a special needs diagnosis you weren’t expecting, read my book! If you want the correlating game plan to managing it – a plan that does not include drinking a bottle of wine every night and picking a fight with your husband every second over going into debt over Amazon essential oils known as Tic Tamers – I’d highly recommend Dr. Nicole Beurkens’ book, Life WILL Get Better. Think of it as a trusted resource to getting a handle on what might otherwise feel like an overwhelming situation.
Dr. Beurkens is available for phone consultations. You can find out more via her website contact page.
Prescription from Dr. Andrea
Your kids are amazing.
There is hope.
You are not alone.
- This review was provided in exchange for a copy of Dr. Beurkens’ book
Until next time,
May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.