I have been using acupuncture to successfully treat children as young as newborns for a host of childhood disorders that range from asthma and allergies to disorders of growth and development such as ADHD and Autism. My earliest training began during my residency at St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital where I participated in a small study using acupuncture to relieve pain and reduce Demerol dependency in children with Sickle Cell Anemia. My growing interest in acupuncture led to a fortuitous meeting with Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold, which has gown into a long-standing collaboration and deep friendship. I went on to study Medical Acupuncture with Steven Aung MD and received my certification through the New York Medical College program. Since then I have been lucky to meet many wise teachers and practitioners who continue to inspire me to keep learning.
People often ask me how could a child possibly allow himself to be stuck by little needles but I find that when handled with patience and compassion, this is almost never a problem. As a pediatrician accustomed to working with children, I recognize how important it is to adapt my approach to the specific nature of each child (see adaptive styles). Certain children are naturally more willing to try acupuncture than others. This is why it is so important to begin any treatment by adjusting my own body language in order to create a more secure environment for the individual nature of the child. Often, working first with the child’s breathing allows a more relaxed relationship to develop between us. Acupuncture becomes a bridge between practitioner and patient that establishes secure bonds and helps direct attention to physical presence. This is the secret to healing.
In Chinese Medicine, children are said to have an exuberance of vital energy (qi) that makes them susceptible to extreme reactions, particularly affecting digestion, respiration and emotions. As with any intervention in children, it is imperative that one does not force a child to receive a treatment, as this will only be counterproductive. Sometimes I begin by using tuning forks or laser therapy to help accustom a child to the experience of qi and reduce excess defensiveness. Some children are so sensitive that this can have as much power as the needles. Overstimulation is an epidemic in our society today. Doing too much too fast is a problem in any medical intervention. I find that using only a few needles for a short period of time can often lead to the best results. This is the power of “less is more!”