Empowering Women Chiropractic – AUTISM – PANS/PANDAS and the chiropractic connection! – Dr. Monika Buerger

Hello everybody, and welcome to another ChiroSecure, Look To The Children show. Again, I want to take this time to thank ChiroSecure for giving us this opportunity to help educate and move forward our mission in pediatric chiropractic. I have an amazing guest today. I’ve been dying to talk to this incredible gentleman, Dr. Steve Tullius from San Diego. Hey doc.

Hey, how are you Monika? It’s good to be on the show.

Thank you so much for taking the time. I know you’ve got a crazy busy practice, but let me tell everybody a little bit about Dr. Steve. He practices in San Diego, has a practice where he dives in and helps incredibly challenging cases, anywhere from autism to anxiety to depression, seizures, and incredible, incredible stuff. He is the immediate past vice president of the International Federation of Chiropractors. He’s a former director of the AutismOne Pediatric Chiropractic program, and he is a member of the Academy of Chiropractic Philosophers.

He’s been in practice in San Diego and incredibly successful family wellness and specialization practice. He is the owner and founder of Chiropractic Is, which I love your stuff. In fact, I’m usually at my office filming this, and I was kind of bummed because this particular episode, I’m at my home. But, I wanted to have your posters behind me because I love your posters, and they’re in my office. But we can talk a little bit about that. You also have a Waitlist Practice. We’ll talk a little bit about that program where he helps educate docs, chiropractors, on how to attract your optimal patient base and how to go out there and create workshops, social media programs, email programs to really create your own practice. But we’ll talk a little bit about that. But again, Dr. Steve, thank you for being here.

Thank you.

So tell the world a little bit about your Waitlist program.

So, that program is based upon having workshops to build your practice through attracting your ideal patients. So, I started in chiropractic with a practice that was more of a smorgasbord kind of practice where just taking on anybody and everybody. I was stuck in the musculoskeletal box that I know many chiropractors are stuck in. So, the majority of my people were coming in for neck pain, back pain, even though I really wanted to have a family wellness practice, that really wasn’t the reality. I sold my practice in 2011 and I took off a year and that gave me time to really define what did I want my next practice to look like? So, when I came back into practice, all of my communications from my brochures, to my presentations, to what’s on my website was 100% congruent with a pediatric focus, family based practice.

So through that I’ve created the practice of my dreams and it wasn’t easy. I’m not going to say it was easy at all, because when I started, I started doing workshops and nobody showed up, right? I know a lot of people have experienced this, had either zero people, or maybe one or two people show. Because I have a son who has intense health challenges, he was diagnosed with PANDAS, PANS back in 2012. I didn’t have the opportunity to really go out there and do a ton of one to ones, and spinal screenings and all these more traditional things that people are used to. So I had to figure out a way to get people to me and I just stuck with it. I found the recipe with social media, Facebook marketing, and created these workshop programs, and then Colleen saw what I was doing. I was consistently having 75 registrations, they were sold out, and so eventually they said, “Hey, you need to package this and give it to the profession,” so that’s what I’ve done and we keep expanding that in our offerings now.

That’s amazing. That’s amazing. In fact, I was just this weekend in New York, and they asked the audience, one of the questions, the biggest reason chiropractors don’t do workshops? And it was because of not being able to draw the audience. So you’ve captured something very unique and fascinating. And I wonder, what’s the website that docs can visit for more information on that program?

Yeah, so docs can go to waitlistworkshops.com and it’s a forward slash VIP. We’re about to launch a brand new offering. I used to just have one workshop at a time, whether it was my neurodevelopmental workshop or my gut brain workshop or the mental workshops. Now we have a program where docs get all of the workshops, you’re going to get a brand new stress workshop and with many more titles coming down the line. So that’s the address they can visit.

Oh, fabulous thanks. We’ll put that in the comments too so everybody can hear that. Awesome. So tell me, if you don’t mind telling us a little bit, I see on social media lots of times, certain people, we kind of all run in the same circles, so to speak, or get tagged with the same thing. And I know that you and I get tagged a lot with PANS or PANDAS, which you know, big area that I think we should be aware of. But also it’s a really big kahuna and unless somebody is well versed in managing those cases, it can be, there’s a lot of rabbit holes and niches about that genre. But would you mind sharing your story a little bit and then from a chiropractic perspective, what we should be savvy on and what’s our role in that?

Sure, sure. Yeah. So I got thrown into it in a manner that I would probably prefer not to be, because it was my own child. However, I believe everything happens for a reason and if that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be able to help as many children as I can help today. And if I hadn’t already been in pediatric chiropractic then I definitely wouldn’t have had the resources. My son wouldn’t be doing nearly as well as he’s doing today either. And so I mentioned I sold my practice in 2011 we took off for nine months and traveled around the world, about halfway through that trip, my son started to display really abnormal behavior. He started to become very, and he was four and a half at the time, turned five, abnormal behavior, started becoming extremely aggressive, didn’t want to leave the apartment or hotel where we were at, which we now understand it was anxiety.

And so there’s a couple of things in that journey. One, I recognize that I didn’t have enough training. I didn’t have enough in pediatrics, even though I had gone through multiple programs and maybe it was just that, and likely this PANS, PANDA thing is so huge. And so what really wasn’t even known, it’s only been in the literature for about 15 years, people really weren’t talking about it much. It wasn’t talked about at all when I came out of practice 17 years ago, but anyways, my son was displaying these symptoms. I thought it was more behavioral. And so we decided that we would come back to the United States and come back a little bit early hoping he would get better and that he just needed more stability in that sort of thing. However, things got much, much worse to the point where we’re talking about three hours a night of rage, of going for knives, telling us he wanted to kill us. Bitting, spitting, hitting, you name it. A lot of it just simply I don’t even remember, blocked out due to my own PTSD experience going through that.

And so through that struggle I got introduced to lots of different resources for him, and understanding just how crucial the diet is. Homeopathy, neurofeedback, all these different things that are really been super helpful and of course chiropractics has been a part of his life since he was born. It’s helped me understand really what’s going on with this, these neurodevelopmental epidemics happening today. Because even as a chiropractor thinking like, “Wait, I’m not having the chiropractic kid, the one who is vibrant and shiny and like, what’s wrong? What’s wrong with me?” All these things that I know a lot of doctors actually are experiencing because a lot of chiropractor’s children are not doing well too.

We live in an era of a society that’s so massively toxic that certain individuals due to their genetic profiles don’t detox well, and there has to be more intense strategies to help these kids, so you understanding. We have a sauna at home now. We have, water has to be the purest. We have to really take care of all these various things, which I didn’t understand were so important even when I started that pediatric practice in 2012. And I recognize now that as a chiropractor and I consider myself a straight chiropractor, I really wanted to keep that line very clear. However, I also recognize that I have an intense obligation to provide education and resources and information.

That’s a great point. I think we struggle with that, excuse me, in our profession a lot, because we believe in chiropractics so profoundly. We know it’s life changing, but we are seeing more of these kids struggle. I’ve been in practice 29 years and starting over 25 years ago, I’d have a lot of chiropractors contact me and say, “Why my child? What am I doing wrong?” It’s not like you’re doing anything wrong. It’s just the load is so much more profound. And so thank you for bringing that point up, as being able… If it’s not your bag of chips, you don’t have to implement certain things in your practice, but be able to recognize them and work within your community, I think is important.

Yeah, absolutely. And I know you have a fantastic program and Dr. Amy Spoelstra has an amazing program. There’s lots of docs that have these amazing programs where you can dive deeper into these things if you want to provide that, and that’s cool. But the thing is you got to get the training. If you’re going to do that and not be just dabbling in homeopathy or dabbling, you’ve got to really have the protocols and understand that to a deep degree if you’re going to do it. And you know, God bless you if you want to. I’ve chosen just to, one, I can’t be my son’s own doctor. I need specialists, I need people with objective, as objective viewpoint as possible. And so I’ve reached out and formed alliances with specialists around the country for my son specialists here in San Diego.

So now I’m able to really know and recognize like what’s going on, like with a child who came to us recently, watching crawling patterns, asking them deeper into the history. What was missed? What stage? It’s understanding neural development, the tracking of the eyes and seeing all these pieces that often get missed. And I often wonder with my own son, he hadn’t had a sick day in his life and until he experienced situation, I look back, I wonder. I say, “Well I wonder what I probably missed.” I hate to beat myself up about it, but that’s what I’m wondering now too. It’s like, I wonder what pieces were I not recognizing at that time, because I just didn’t have the training.

But you also bring up a good point. What I tell my parents is, I know let’s not look back. Let’s just go forward.

Yeah, totally. Totally.

It’s so important. So God bless you for doing that. But for those of you that may not know PANS and PANDA, it was originally started as PANDAS, pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders assessing strep. So we used to see them mostly associated with strep and now we’re seeing so many other pathogens jumping on board. And now in that whole catchall we are also looking at term called autoimmune encephalitis. So they all kind of go together and basically it’s an inflammatory load that hits the CNS and they can have a number of signs and symptoms and sensory struggles and et cetera. But I’m glad to hear your son is progressing and you found him the help you need. So what do you think… I’m going to pick your brain. Is that okay?

Sure, of course.

So what do you think, where do you see the future of pediatric chiropractic?

Yeah, I think pediatric chiropractic is the future of the profession. Without pediatric chiropractic, we have no future. And I say that from, I think I have a unique perspective in the profession because I came from Los Angeles College of Chiropractic, which laughed at subluxation. I couldn’t even say the word when I came out of chiropractic college. So I have that perspective of have seeing that side of the profession. I’ve also been highly involved in chiropractic politics for over a decade. I’ve testified in front of U.S. Department Education twice against our accrediting body. And I see all the attacks from within and from without the profession.

Right now pediatric chiropractic is being violently attacked in Australia and Canada because it’s very simple. It’s very simple. In 1964 the American Medical Association had its committee on quackery and it had, it was following something called the Iowa Plan. And one of those points, this was from the Iowa Medical Association and one of the points on there was to engage in a program of positive containment. What that meant was accepting chiropractic in the limited musculoskeletal scope. And then Medicare accepted us and we got reimbursement for musculoskeletal complaints. And then insurance the same, and so we got roped in the Mercedes 80s where doctors were getting $100 per visit, came around and then also the 90s came around with the HMO and they pulled the money and they had enslaved the profession. The chiropractors had lost their principals and lost their way and we stopped seeing all these miracle cases. Without the miracle cases, chiropractic will not survive. There’s very little utility in chiropractic, or very little value is seen from the public except for back pain, neck pain care right now.

But that’s changing. And you know this. It’s changing massively with all the kids coming into chiropractic practices today. And those kids are obviously not coming in for musculoskeletal issues primarily. Right?


And so I chose in 2012 to focus on pediatrics and autism specifically and epilepsy, because I wanted the results coming out of my clinic to be so huge that it caused a pattern interrupt for the public to turn around and say, “Wait what? Chiropractic helps with autism?” Chiropractic can help a child walk, speak, stop seizures, all these things. And not from a treatment mentality, but from a pure chiropractic philosophical standpoint of removing interference allows for the optimal expression health. And so they know this. Those people that profit off of people being sick, they know that chiropractic, if it were fully utilized that it would massively transform the consciousness of the planet. Healthcare, economics, social structures. And so pediatric chiropractic is being violently opposed, it will continue to be, and will be here in the United States. So chiropractors need mount up and join organizations like the ICPA. Get training, start taking care of more of these kids, because these kids… Not only to help save the chiropractic, but to save all these kids and families. They’re struggling, you know. You know this.

And the load, so you covered brilliantly the why we might be seeing less of these miracle stories in our practice from a political standpoint, but are you also seeing from a toxic load standpoint, I call the four Ts now. Trauma, toxins, thoughts and technology. Now we’ve got throw technology into the whole barrel. What’s your take on that?

So first of all, I love your message and your story about taking that time off and regrouping. I think that’s really profound for anybody out there that might be struggling or afraid to do that. How they can step back, reevaluate what their vision is and be okay, and then come out with a very solid picture. A solid course of where they want to go and how they want to represent themselves and be successful like you. So any pearl you want to add in regards to that for those docs that might be like, “I can’t do that”?

Yeah, I’d say make sure you have a very solid plan. And what I mean by that, is I sold my practice, got a lot of money and decided to travel and paid off all my debt. However, I came back penniless. And because traveling around the world for nine months is a lot more expensive than you think, so I had to start from scratch. I mean, there was a time where I was eating oranges off of my landlady’s trees in the front so my family could eat. So, and I’m not afraid to tell that and share that because I also have a lot of pride in that. I rebuilt everything from nothing. And so my message to you is that at any point we can rebuild ourselves and re-define ourselves and as chiropractors we’re blessed to have these here and this thing here in our chest, and with those two things and the vision of the bigness of chiropractic, and getting past your own fears, because that’s what’s stopping most chiropractors. There’s no shortage of people.

B.J. Palmer said, in The Glory of Going On, “I’m out there in those great open spaces, there are multitude seeking what you poses.” 50% at least of our country, adults and children are chronically ill, and chiropractic could be massively helping them. The problem is we are putting ourselves in the musculoskeletal box. We are actively participating in that and we have to become liberated, and many times docs don’t know how to get unstuck. And so that’s what I want to help docs do is get unstuck. Get out of that musculoskeletal box. Get into helping people with chiropractic and getting back on track. Getting the profession back on track. So then we can really achieve this big idea that we say we believe in.

Absolutely. And one in four kiddos is starting school now with the neuro developmental challenge, which is absolutely ridiculous. When I speak, what I often say is, we really don’t have time to be out of our offices. We could be there 24 seven and be packed because of what’s going on. So kudos to you there. So then in regards to another reason we might not be seeing these miracles that we want to, again, we’re looking at the toxic load and I think your message to the world and especially to parents, chiropractic parents that have a child that’s struggling to know it’s not you or your fault. It’s just there’s a toxic load that no matter what we do to take off the system, we can do the best to take that which we control off the system, but there’s stuff out there that we’re all exposed to that we just unfortunately can’t control in this country.

Yeah. So I think our chiropractic philosophy explains this to us where we in the terms of limitations of matter. There’s limits to matter and matter could only adapt so much as its limits allow it to. We have to a clear nervous system, number one. I talk about the neurodevelopmental game plan is what I share with parents and it’s a hierarchy of needs, but it’s also a circle at the top. You have to have the clear information. There has to be a clear nervous system. Number two is looking more at diet and clearing out, taking things out of the diet, adding things in. I give people resources to things like the specific carb diet, the gaps diet, so they can begin to make these changes.

But yeah, in a lot of cases, when there’s limitations of matter, when we’re dealing with a toxic load that certain people cannot handle. That’s the thing is like many people don’t realize that there’s a certain genetic typing of people that just really don’t do as well as their neighbors, and they’re the canaries in the coal mine. These are the kids, these are the child like mine and others who are showing the world what happens when we massively abuse it, and hopefully something’s going to shift and change. It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. You know? That’s the way I see it, sadly. So this is where we step in.

Yep. Yep. And I think teaching the chiropractic lifestyle, right? Educating the chiropractic lifestyle. It can be so profound on taking those stresses off the system, and especially in preconception care. It’s phenomenal. It’s huge. So can you give the docs out there a pearl or two, I know you can give probably a ton of pearls, but of steps we need to maybe, let’s say it’s not their bag of chips. They don’t want to do what you do or I do, but they want to help the world. They want to help these little fiddle farts. Can you give them a pearl or two of a couple steps that maybe they can employ to be ready to take on these kids or see these kids or recognize them?

Yeah, I’d say more clinical training for sure. That’s why I created the Autism On Pediatric Chiropractic program was to give docs the clinical skills in chiropractic and the awareness and recognition of these multiple other areas they need to be aware of. And so I did step down as the director of that program this year. I felt that I had taken it to a place where I felt really good about it and I was ready to step down and focus on some other things. However, that’s still a great program. I know that you have amazing trainings that give docs the awareness tools. Dr. Amy Spoelstra is doing amazing work in that area as well. Get additional training for these types of situations.

I realize now that when I decided I was going to take care of children with autism and do it purely from a subluxation correction standpoint, that I wasn’t fully giving these parents the resources that they needed. And so once I recognized that I developed a series of 19 emails. Okay. So in my practice and when people come to my workshops, I tell them about the multiple things that are involved. I give them a hierarchy of needs. Let them know the nervous system is the primary system. They need to make sure that’s clear. And then here’s the other things that you need to be aware of. Here’s some more information. These emails are going to come to you. So I give them information on primary reflexes. I’ll give them information on vision therapy and here’s a resource here. I give them lots of different tools and tips around diet. But I’m not specifically doing it. That’s not my bag of chips. I’m very focused on the one thing here. But for docs that want to do that, you have to be aware so you can give your parents resources.

And working with others in a community, but at least you’re aware. And that’s the golden nugget. Being, stepping out, getting some further education, identify, working with your community members and putting a whole package together. So my hats off to you. You’re awesome man. So I want to thank you for taking… I know you’ve got to kick butt busy practice and we pulled you away from that this morning, but thank you so much for being here and sharing your wisdom and your heart and your story and that’s huge for the docs out there. Any parting last pearl before we let you go back and save some more lives?

Yeah. You know, I think the thing I’d like to share is that, without chiropractic in their lives, everything else is going to not be utilized. It’s not going to be maximized. Their expression is going to be limited. I would ask yourself this question, I asked myself this question years ago, does subluxation squash human potential? And really understand the bigness of what a subluxation does.

We talked about this toxic load and yes, it’s huge. However, my clinical experience about it, I’d say about 15% of the kids that come me with neurodevelopmental disorders, epilepsy, things like that, it’s the primary causation is the vertebral subluxation at birth. And so, refining your skills, being so… I believe I’m one of the greatest chiropractors on the planet. Okay? Whether I am or not doesn’t matter because I believe it, and because I believe it, I work tirelessly to become that. And so if you don’t believe you’re the best chiropractor on the planet, or if you don’t have that as one of your goals, why are you even doing this? Like why play at chiropractic? Why not put your whole heart and energy and life into serving people and the rewards and blessings will be so fantastic. Yeah, that’s my parting words. I appreciate you all for doing the work that you’re doing.

That’s beautiful. That’s beautiful. Because you know what, if we believe it, it comes through in our delivery and in our hands and our energy. And kids, you know this as well as I do. Kids and animals, they pick up on that. They’re an open vessel, they’re open to receiving and they’re open to healing. And if we believe that and we can deliver it in that matter, that right there is 80% of the healing capacity. So that was absolutely beautiful and profound. So thank you for that.

Thank you. Thank you Monika. I appreciate it. What you just shared is absolutely 100% the truth too. Chiropractors need to get out of their own way and let their heart really be the guiding force and when that is first, then everything else is will come.

It follows. It follows. And this too and just for you guys out there, he’s spot on. I can give you probiotics and so forth, but we have studies that show if vagal tone is depleted. If vagal tone is not up regulated, some of these… excuse me… specific probiotics that we target the brain with don’t even work. So we have to remove nervous system interference above and beyond. That’s the first step. And then we can employ those other steps. But you just nailed that and thank you so much again. Thank you for everything you do. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for being there and thank you for opening up my heart this morning with your beautiful words.

Thank you. Thank you doc. It’s great connecting with you. Thank you for all your you’ve done to serve this profession, so many chiropractors and get them prepared and trained to help so many people. So I can’t wait to meet you in person.

That’s my… I know we all know we know each other from social aspects, but one day we’ve got to all get together, but my motto now is, alone we can make a difference, but together we can make change. So let’s do this together. So all of you guys out there, thank you so much for joining in. Take these pearls of wisdom. These are profound. And thank you for ChiroSecure for letting us have this platform, letting us get the word out and stay tuned. Make sure that you listen the first Thursday of every month for Eric Waukee and his fantastic show and… Kowaleski. Sorry, Eric. I didn’t get that right. I’ll be back the third Thursday of next month with another fantastic guest.

Today’s pediatric show Look To The Children, was brought to you by ChiroSecure and the award winning book series I Am a Lovable Me. Make sure you join us next week right here at the same time. See you next week.

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