The path that Dr. Sonia McGowin became a chiropractor and working with children with challenges like autism and cerebral palsy can be traced back to her struggle to find alternatives to help her own son, Roan.
Roan stopped sleeping when he was 6 months old and developed many “disruptive behaviors” as he got older, including severe speech delays.
“I was very worried about him because he went from being an essentially normal infant to all these problems that only snowball games had,” said McGowin.
She took him to several doctors: “And my mother’s intuition told me something was wrong.”
While working with children who were suffering from autism at the time and knowing the challenges these children were facing, McGowin said that none of the specialists she took Roan to offered much hope of recovery.
“Everyone said he was not developing properly due to various factors and I should just forget about my concerns, go home and love him,” said McGowin. “I knew there was a typical child in all of these behaviors and I would leave no stone unturned.”
During this time, McGowin was keen to change careers. She still wanted to work with children with autism, but more from a medical perspective.
“I learned that autism is not necessarily genetic, that there are many environmental factors that affect genetics that can lead to a diagnosis of autism,” said McGowin.
This resulted in McGowin leaving Jefferson City and attending a chiropractic school in Kansas City. Roan was 14 months old when she started.
“I’m not sure why I thought I could do it, but I was dying to make a difference for children with autism and I wanted to find out what was going on with my son,” said McGowin.
Roan got worse and worse while she went to school.
“I had a child who developed,” said McGowin. âWhen he was 2 years old, he had no language skills, was covered with eczema and he never slept. I watched him turn to a diagnosis I didn’t want.
“So I dug in my heels and said, ‘This is not going to happen to my kid,'” said McGowin.
She eventually found out that Roan had medical problems that hadn’t been tested for before. They found that he had an intestinal infection – an overgrowth of yeast in his gut – and McGowin said that this caused him to have developmental problems.
“We found he was very sensitive to food, and when we changed his diet and put him on a good treatment protocol, he changed,” said McGowin. âWithin a few days he started sleeping all night and the words came in a flood. By the age of 4, only 5 percent of his language skills were considered understandable, but by 51/2 when he started kindergarten he had normal language and social skills. “
McGowin considers Roan to be her first recovery story. She started her practice in Jefferson City in 2010 and works primarily with children with developmental disabilities. Her patients come from all over the country and other parts of the world. She operated telemedicine long before the COVID-19 pandemic made it a viable option for medical information and treatment.
“I did zoom before zoom was cool,” laughed McGowin. âI’m probably better known in Ireland and elsewhere than here in Jefferson City. Because I’ve lived it and I know how close I was to my own son being diagnosed with autism, that makes me a better doctor for himself the families that are coming. ” now to me for help. “
For those people who know there are alternative ways to deal with problems Roan was having, the main reason for parents to visit McGowin was.
“What I am telling parents is that there is no such thing as pointless behavior,” said McGowin. “If you have a child who has anxiety or behavior problems, there is a reason for them and we have to look at chemistry first.”
McGowin said she has often found that children have poor digestion, which leads to deficiency and affects their biochemistry.
“My husband says I’m like a dog on the bone because I think something needs to be done,” laughed McGowin. “I’m pretty stubborn when it comes to figuring things out.”
The kids who join McGowin today have stories similar to Roan’s.
“Some are non-verbal and some never sleep,” said McGowin. âI am now working with a 4 year old girl who normally develops except that she quickly became very anxious. She didn’t want to talk to family members because it was too scary for her.
McGowin says she tells families about developmental problems: âGenetics loads the gun, but the environment pulls the trigger. So you may be genetically predisposed to something, but if you have a super clean diet, use non-toxic household cleaners, and lead a fairly clean lifestyle, those genetics don’t necessarily manifest themselves. But there could be some disease or infection that causes these genetics to show its face. “
McGowin’s employees have grown from two to seven and they are expanding their offices. In addition to pediatric and prenatal chiropractic, hyperbaric oxygen treatment is offered, which can be used to treat neurological problems such as autism or attention deficit.
“Once you make a difference in the life of a family with a child with autism, the news spreads like wildfire,” said McGowin. “Families just refer to us one by one because they know we can get good results.”
McGowin got emotional when she said, “I never wanted another mother to feel as alone as when my son was so sick. That really drives me because I know how they feel. I don’t want them feels like the next doctor will do it. ” pat them on the head and scare them away, I want families to come here and know that we will listen to them and believe them when they say there is something wrong with their child.
“When I approach it with that perspective and that kind of integrity, I think, ‘How can I not be successful,'” added McGowin. “I’m not there for the money or the fame. Whoever I’m sitting in front of, they are my priority.”