"Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life."
- Mark Twain
Sarah's eight-year-old daughter Leah was out of control. She had been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and put on Risperdal, an anti-psychotic medication. "The medication was so strong and so toxic," recalls Sarah, "I just didn't want to give it to her. And it really only changed her behavior a little bit. I knew there was something else going on. I just didn't know what to do. She was so angry all the time."
Sarah, like many other parents of children with difficult health problems--such as chronic allergies, asthma, autism, ear infection and ADHD--continued to search for answers. These parents are desperate to help their children, but they are wary of the powerful drugs doctors prescribe to help alleviate symptoms of childhood illness, because while medications can be helpful, side effects are often debilitating.
"I asked my pediatrician if she knew about any alternative treatments," says Sarah "but she didn't really have any suggestions, and it's so hard to trust what's on the Internet."
"There was definitely a need out there that we thought was important to fill," says Naomi Gelperin, co-founder of Bee Well Kidz, the first integrated health care center specifically for children. "We opened the clinic because so many parents were approaching us and asking us for help and information on alternative therapies. They wanted to know who they could trust."
Ms. Gelperin, an acupuncturist, Chinese Herbalist and CranioSacral therapist who holds a certification in pediatric oriental medicine, and Stephanie Caruso-Afshar, a pediatric occupational therapist, opened the doors to Bee Well Kidz in February 2005.
"We wanted to have occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy together under one roof," says Ms. Caruso-Afshar "and we wanted to be able to combine these therapies with other non-traditional treatments, such as acupuncture, craniosacral therapy and herbs. That way parents have more options than they would with their regular pediatricians. We do a lot of co-treating so that the therapies take less time and the children advance at a much faster rate. That saves parents a lot of running around."
Leslie and Franklin's son, David, was diagnosed with autism. Two years ago, Leslie was forced to quit her job so she could take him to his appointments. "David had physical therapy three times a week in Culver City, speech therapy three times a week in West Los Angeles, occupational therapy twice a week in Santa Monica and we live in Malibu," Leslie recalls "I was spending my life in my car. Now [at Bee Well Kidz] we get all of our therapies in the same place and the therapists work together. I really like it this way because there is such good communication between the therapists. I know David is getting the best treatments he can. And I can even get a massage there while he's being treated!"
"The most important thing is for a sick child to get the best possible care," says Ms. Caruso-Afshar "and we believe that that means considering all possible remedies. Naomi and I created a place where caring professionals, who practice both traditional and non-traditional medicine, put their heads and talents together towards achieving a single goal--making kids well." To learn more about Bee Well Kidz, go to BeeWellKidz.com.