Friday, April 14, 2017

Feature: Child Decoded


Inside the Book:

The last twenty years have seen a huge increase, not only in children with learning and behavior problems, but in children with bewildering combinations of them. These combinations can defy easy categorization and resist treatment. Figuring these children out can feel like trying to decrypt an especially complex code, without a cypher. Even professionals find it challenging.

We have seen family after family exhausted, overwhelmed and confused about how to sort through all the data and figure out how to proceed. There is certainly no shortage of information out there. What seems to be missing is guidance on how to synthesize it to create a larger picture that gives parents a clearly sequenced path forward.

This book presents a new kind of resource for a new kind of need. It includes:

Extensive checklists to help you see new possibilities and find avenues of support you may not have considered
Explanation of the hidden factors that may be worsening your child’s learning or behavior problems
Discussion of the difference between digging deeper for true causes and merely assigning diagnoses to the “tip of the iceberg” symptoms you are seeing
Descriptions of the major areas of developmental, learning and behavioral challenges, as well as common misdiagnoses.
Lots of useful ‘news you can use’ about what options are available to you, which practitioners do what, and what questions to ask along the way
Descriptions of both Western medicine and alternative medicine solutions
Sequence matters: helpful information on how to prioritize treatments in a complex situation
Stories of families who have been in the same trenches you have
Tips on how to work more productively with your child’s school; develop a plan of action that makes sense for your budget, your family’s schedule and your sanity; maintain a healthy connection with your child; and more!
Written by over 20 professionals, Child Decoded is a thorough, must-have resource that any family with struggling children should consult!


Q: Please tell us about “Child Decoded” and what inspired you to write it.
A: “Child Decoded” is a resource guide to help families whose children are struggling with learning and behavior disorders. Increasing numbers of children have complex combinations of issues that can be difficult to sort out, diagnose correctly, and treat effectively.  (Incidentally, we consider both Autism and AD/HD to be complex in and of themselves, since there are often so many fronts that need to be addressed.) There are so many more resources and approaches out there than people realize. But it seems to take everyone way too long to find what they need for their particular child.
I know from personal experience how hard it is to find all the information you need in order to even understand what’s going on, much less know what to do about it. It is maddening, scary, and confusing…and the whole time that you’re chasing your tail trying to find answers, you’re panicking that your child is now even more shut down, frustrated, and convinced that he’s stupid or broken somehow. There really is no hell quite like watching your child struggle and not being able to help. This book is designed to help parents like me find answers without going down incessant dead ends, going broke or losing their minds.
(There are more details about what’s in the book in later questions, especially the one about which sections are most important.)

Q: What made you pursue a book that focused on children and learning/behavioral problems?
A: The two ladies who founded this project are both practitioners who work with a wide range of children and issues. They saw the same stories over and over, of kids whom no one could seem to figure out. Over time, these women started to see patterns in their clients’ histories: overall health patterns, complicating underlying factors, and symptoms that are often misdiagnosed (lookin’ at you, ADD). They learned to look deeper than the presenting symptoms, and cultivated relationships with other practitioners to provide a complete network for clients. They then looked for a book that shared the information and insight they had accumulated, so that that they could recommend it to parents. They couldn’t find one, so they decided to write it themselves.
I was brought on board about a year into the project, after they went through a few editors who didn’t work out. Because of my own experience with ulcer-inducingly complicated children, I was immediately intrigued. It really is the book I wish I’d had, and we believe it can make the path easier for others in the same boat.

Q: What type of support system do you have?
A: Since I was the main editor, I was the one who needed the most support! And this involved so much more than editing. I was almost always the one deciding what additional information we needed, what was too much or too clinical, how to break it down, what kind of tone would appeal to a freaked-out parent doing research at one in the morning, and so on.  There was a lot more rewriting and determining basic organization than I had anticipated, and I had never been in charge of a project this complicated.
In a way, that extent of control and freedom was exciting. But a few years into the project, I started to get stressed about being the main person determining all of this, and experienced a huge crisis of confidence.  I found a wonderful writing coach who supported me on and off throughout the rest of the project. She was exactly what I needed. I often have a “sense” of how a piece should sound or how information should flow, but cannot always break down my rationale for others. She explained why my choices did make sense and helped me regain my confidence and clarity. Sometimes, just bouncing ideas around with her helped; the power of brainstorming with a like-minded colleague cannot be overstated!
I also have some close friends and an unbelievably patient husband who were always ready to lend an ear when I needed to vent, and who never once rolled their eyes when I said “Hey, can you read something real quick?”

Q: How did you decided what information to include/what was relevant?
A:   I considered my lack of clinical training an advantage, and read every chapter from the point of view of a stressed-out mom. Since this was a role I had played for many years, getting into character was easy! The authors (most chapters are written by an expert in that field) often considered my follow-up questions ridiculously basic, but I trusted my sense of what the average parent wants to know and how they need it explained.

Q: Due to the amount of information included, is there a section you feel is more important than any other?
A: The first two chapters give the most complete overview. The first chapter is the story of our journey with our son. It is a typical story for this demographic, long and convoluted as it is, and it illustrates exactly why we wrote this book. Parents often feel isolated, like they’re the only ones going through this particular, weird little uncharted hell.  I know I did. These families need to know they’re not alone and that answers are out there.
Chapter two, “How to Use This Book,” describes the overarching philosophy of the book. It not only explains how to use our extensive checklists to read the portions relevant to you; it also discusses how underlying factors such as gut health and nervous system function can derail learning and emotional control. There is often so much more to the picture than the symptoms and struggles you are seeing. Sometimes, taking deeper factors into account is the only way you’re going to move forward. Chapter two pretty much explains the rest of the book.

Q: While writing, did you ever feel like giving up? If so, what kept you going?
A: Oh, sweet Lord, I got so burned out on this project so many times! What kept me going? Aside from my wonderful writing mentor and a certain innate dogged stubbornness, I always knew this was a passion project for me. I might have railed against it, but I never seriously considered walking away. Some things you just know you need to see through to the end.
That said, I actually did put it down once. All the writing and editing was done (we thought), and I handed it over with instructions for the next steps of the publishing process. I was so happy to be done! But a year and a half later, no one had had the time or space to follow through. I decided I needed to be able to point to this in published form and say, “I did that!” I also couldn’t face having done all that work and not giving it to the people who needed it.

Q: Are you or any close family members affected by the topics discussed?
A: I think I’ve already answered this one!

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share?
A: If you are ever in the position of having to translate very clinical or academic language into something a layperson can read with ease, get your source talking. Literally talking, over the phone or in person. (Don’t take notes; record it.) I started this project by emailing all my follow-up questions to the authors and having them answer at their leisure. I was trying to be respectful of their time. But I finally realized something: When they wrote, they understandably wanted to sound professional, and they used a lot of jargon and sounded like they were submitting an academic paper. No parent was going to have the patience to plow through that. But in person – they were funny, they used interesting examples, they shared insights and personal perspectives. In the beginning, we’d ask an author to approve their final chapter, and half the time we’d get, “But it doesn’t sound like me!” And I’d think, “Yeah, that was kind of the point.” But by the end, I could make it sound like them – because I’d been able to find out what they sounded like when they weren’t being so clinical.
(This is one of many tips I wish I’d figured out a couple of years earlier!)

Meet the Authors:

Kim Gangwish has  been  practicing  in  the  fields  of  mental  health  and  applied physiology for the last 18 years. Ms. Gangwish specializes in a form of acupressure that focuses on  neurological  integration,  called  LEAP  (Learning  Enhancement  Acupressure  Program).  She works  with  both  children  and  adults  who  have  learning  or  sensory  issues,  or  mild  traumatic head injuries. Her passion for educating caregivers has led her to present at international health conferences,  educational  programs  for  school  districts,  and  parent  and  adoption  support organizations,  where  she  emphasizes  the  importance  of  exploring underlying  causal  factors that contribute to learning and sensory issues. Being an adoptive mother herself, Ms. Gangwish is  very  active  in  the  adoption  community.  She  has  written  an ongoing  column  in  Adoption Today  magazine  and  founded  a  non-profit  organization  that  supports  adopted  children  and their families through an integrated team of therapeutic professionals. Ms. Gangwish runs her practice,  The  Life  Enrichment  Center,  in both  Louisville  and  Denver,  Colorado.  Kim  is also  the founder    and    CTO    (Chief    Technology    Officer)    of    a    biomedical    company,    Genovus Biotechnologies  Inc.,  which  is  developing  a  peripheral  neurostimulation  device  to  help  people with degenerative  neuromuscular diseases. She  lives in Louisville  with her two sons and many animals. You can read more about her and her work at  

Dr. Robin McEvoy is a developmental neuropsychologist practicing in Denver, Colorado. She evaluates and diagnoses a wide range of learning disabilities and learning needs in children, adolescents, and adults. She then works with the family to develop a treatment plan to  remediate  weaknesses  and  accentuate  strengths.  In  addition  to  her  private  practice,  Dr. McEvoy   is   an   assistant   professor   at   the   University   of   Colorado   Health   Sciences   Center. Although  evaluation  is  the  heart  of  her  work,  Dr.  McEvoy  also  loves  the  educational  process  - speaking  to  parents,  schools,  or  other  health  professionals  about  learning,  development,  and parenting  in  this  new  age  where  many  learning  and  developmental challenges  are  more frequent.  
Dr.  McEvoy  and  her  daughter,  Tessa,  have  published  a  children’s  book, Buddy: A Story for Dyslexia. This book has a lovely endorsement from Dr. Sally Shaywitz, a leading authority in
the  field.  Proceeds from  the  book  are  being  used  to fund  reading  remediation for  low  income children. You can find the book at You can read more about Robin McEvoy at her website She blogs about  learning  and  learning  challenges  at  You  can  follow  her  on Facebook  at  or  on  Twitter at She will try to be fascinating.  

Marijke Jones got her BA from Cornell University, and finally settled down in Colorado after living in Japan and traveling throughout Asia and other parts of the world. She has been a copy and developmental editor for over ten years and has worked on a number of manuscripts, McGraw-Hill textbooks, website content, and other miscellaneous projects during that time. She has also published essays, mostly about her experiences raising, homeschooling, and trying to figure out her twice exceptional son. Ms. Jones is passionate about helping families with struggling children find answers and peace of mind. She believes that for each thing a child can’t do, there is something amazing that he can do. A former therapist who specialized in trauma, she also believes that monitoring children’s emotional and mental health is every bit as important as remediating their learning issues. She lives with her incredibly patient husband in Louisville, Colorado, where she enjoys the beautiful Rocky Mountains and all they have to offer. Occasionally, her two adult children come home from college or Europe or wherever they have been having more adventures than she has.

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