Dr. Amber Brooks
Autism and Testing. Interpretation is VITAL in Recovery
I want to touch on interpretation and the role it plays in your child’s recovery. When I refer to “interpretation” I am speaking to the act of the clinician/provider looking over, ordering and recommending proper labs. This is VITAL in any care plan and for any child. I have had hundreds of patients say to me “Dr. Brooks my other doctor never ran that test” OR “my doctor didn’t tell me what the labs meant.” Now, just because your doctor doesn’t review labs with you doesn’t mean they were not interpreted BUT you as the parent need to understand in terms that are simple what is happening with your child and what is going to be done to improve things. For example, when you take your car in for repairs they give it a look, write a quote and repair the car. When you pick it up they detail what was done and explain things to you in basic terms, you then leave understanding why your car was making that clunking noise and perhaps ways to avoid it in the future. Now, lets say you brought your car in for repairs and they didn’t give you a quote or take a look but just asked for the keys, then you went to pick up the car and they just asked for your payment, would you understand why you just paid that money? What was wrong with your car? What to look for going forward to avoid this problem? The answer is NO, and many of us would never return.
Isn’t it funny how our doctor appointments work this way too, you keep going back to people that don’t spend the time they need to so you understand. What happens when you do that? Your child’s recovery is slower or absent. Why? Well most parents will not comply because it takes work to get our kids better and when they don’t fully grasp the why behind it, its hard to follow the rules when your unsure of whether you really need to do it. I find the parents that get the best results do 2 things, (1) they are consistent (2) they understand the problems we are working on and are dedicated to the treatment plan. It sounds simple and it can be depending on your journey and whom you choose to be on your team.
So let’s get back to interpretation. As many of you know by now everyone has an opinion and this is no different. However, experience and specialty matter when in comes to these children that I would consider “medically fragile.” I think each doctor will and can interpret things differently; hence this is where choice comes in for parents. The key ingredient in gaining recovery is truly examining the child as a whole, not one part that is not functioning. For example, your child has an ear infection and the doctor just looks at the ears. When this becomes chronic they begin to think perhaps there is a larger issue. Well what if we got down to the root of the problem and kept that child from getting recurring infections to begin with, that is a huge difference. My job is to look at the whole child, not just the portion that appears to not be working right. The body is a whole; all parts affect one another so why ignore it?
The next step is ordering proper lab testing for that child, some are very basic and others have histories that negate looking much deeper and that takes interpreting the history right, then ordering correct labs. Many of the labs we order as integrative practitioners are specialty labs that are designed to look for these very specific things, hence why your other doctors never ran them. Lastly, you interpret the labs based on the person and the history you got from them. The lab companies try to help doctors by giving us the high and low scores and flag those on a lab BUT it’s not that simple. A lower/higher value can still be abnormal, it can be a direct correlation to a symptom a child is having. It’s a habit for doctors to just look at the abnormal column on labs and not really look at the clinical picture. At the end of the day that is what recovery is all about, the puzzle we talk about is part of this. You MUST find a proper clinician with experience and expertise to evaluate the lab results and make proper recommendations. IF you miss something even minor, this can make a world of difference for a child. You know your child is more sensitive and aware; well this is a huge part of it. Their bodies are more reactive and therefore the smallest things missed on interpretation can hinder them from really getting better.
I wanted to write this to stress the importance of quality care, not to scare you but educate you. I know many parents are out there wondering what to do, where to go, what is next and I hope this helps you gauge your next step. We are all here to help you!