BHC's purpose is to reach individual families, childcare facilities, churches, therapists and medical providers who are struggling to address difficult behavior, developmental concerns, and appropriate courses of action to holistically treat and care for these often misunderstood children.
So many parents are left feeling helpless because they simply do not know how they can better advocate for their child. I am here to help you:
Many of our parents find that they don't know how to advocate for their child's needs, or that they are limited in their efforts. Here at BHC, we educate parents on their rights and opportunities to help their child. In many circumstances we also help families coordinate care, attend ARD meetings and/or mediate between the child's school and parents.
We have so many children who are experiencing incredible breakthroughs, and their families have a whole new quality of life. Families who are consistent with their plan typical typically start seeing major changes around the 3 month mark. For a lot of my kids with severe sensory integration issues, the difference in just one year is remarkable. When we start with them, several have Autistic-like tendencies, are getting kicked out of their pre-schools, and are unmanageable at home or school (or both.) By the end of the year we now have testimonies of children who are considered leaders in their classrooms and going into Kindergarten with no needed accommodations. There is hope for you!
The vision of BHC and my goals for you.
At the heart of BHC is advocacy, and helping the world understand commonly misunderstood children--our challenging, amazing, qwarky, fun-loving, world-changing children. With that said, BHC was built to fill in the gaps of care and make a way for families where there was previously no way.
" Before we finally had an SPD diagnosis, a small part of me had just become resigned to the fact that I was a bad mother, and that I was this profound failure because I had completely messed up the most important work of my life. Every. Single. Thing. I had tried didn't work. I even had a Play Therapist tell me nothing was wrong with our daughter. So if the medical field told me nothing was wrong, who is the only person left to blame?"
"When Natalie was 2, she started showing sensory problems. She displayed signs of aggression. When she was 3, she was out of control enough that family and friends stopped inviting us over. Daycare sent home daily notes listing all the things she had done wrong that day. I bought different discipline books and tried them, took away all of Natalie's favorite things when she misbehaved, spoke to the pediatrician, spoke to a child psychologist, and took Natalie to play therapy once a week. Nothing helped Natalie to stop having these unwanted behaviors. Natalie felt like a bad kid all the time, I felt like a bad mom. We were both spending so much energy on fighting something, and nothing changed.
After we met with Marisa, several things happened. First, Marisa sent us to the right person and we finally had a diagnosis for Natalie. I could read books about this diagnosis, and educate myself on how to best help her. Second, Marisa triaged our problems at our first meeting, and gave us some immediate tools to help "take the edge off" some of our biggest behavioral problems. Third, I could finally create an impact plan that would help Natalie.
Due to the OT's schedule, we were unable to get into OT for about 3 months. In that 3 months, we used the behavioral tools Marisa specifically designed for us. Just as important, we made tremendous dietary changes. I am a scientist by education and training. I say this because I am always ridiculously skeptical of anyone who makes claims about treatments or options that are not widely adopted by pediatricians and doctors. I even spoke with my pediatrician directly about the dietary changes we were thinking about making, and the pediatrician said it wouldn't work. However, there were other sensory moms who swore by the dietary changes. I also did a small literature review and found some very promising research. So this skeptical scientist who had been told by her pediatrician this wasn't going to work went ahead and made serious dietary changes.
We completely eliminated gluten, dairy, soy, and MSG. Not going to sugar coat this: it was inconvenient. My husband (also a science skeptic) gave me a ton of grief over "voodoo dietary changes", especially because it was inconvenient and more expensive.
After 1 week, I thought I started seeing changes in behavior. At 2 weeks, I had empirical proof the diet change was working: Natalie started taking naps at daycare. Before the diet change, Natalie would cause tremendous problems during nap time because she didn't sleep. After the diet change, she started to take naps 2 or 3 times a week. 5 months into the diet change, she naps 3 or 4 times a week.
Between 2 weeks and 4 months, I saw other things. First, her "bad" behaviors become more muted. Those behaviors were still there, but they weren't nearly as pronounced (which meant they become more manageable for me). Over that time period, I also saw a decrease in incidences. And some of the behavioral management techniques Marisa showed us became more effective. Changing nothing but diet (and adding some supplements) created a tremendous change in Natalie. Also, the longer she was away from those foods, the less her sensory processing disorder was negatively impacting her life.
Another piece of evidence to how important the diet change has been for us: one week, I accidentally gave her soy milk (the soy and rice milk boxes look identical and I grabbed the wrong box at the store). The week she had soy, she reverted back to her old problem self at daycare: pushing, yelling, not sleeping, being disruptive. Marisa helped us figure out it was a soy milk problem. It took 2 days to get out of her system, and then she went back to making progress at school.
She was on the diet change for 3 months when we added in OT. She has been going to OT for about 2.5 months. Eliminating foods and adding supplements decreased unwanted behaviors. Adding OT has increased desired behaviors. Natalie is now able to focus on playing. Before, she would flit between play centers, never really settling down into any one play activity. She also had trouble interacting with other children. In fact, I witnessed other little girls in her class shun her. With a combination of diet and OT, Natalie can now sit down and play. Other children want to play with her.
The gold shining moment came this week when Natalie was accidentally given gluten at school. Within 15 minutes, her behavior started to spiral. However, Natalie was able to communicate to the teachers how she felt, asked for frog jumps, and then used the body sock to calm down. After she calmed down, she didn't have any more problems that afternoon.
It has been 6 months since I first contacted Marisa. Her triage tools made a difference that first evening. I started seeing diet differences 1 week after eliminating everything, and then in a much bigger way 2 weeks after eliminating everything. Unwanted behaviors really started to fade probably 6 weeks after the diet change. I have started to really notice desired behaviors 2 months after OT. I think if we had been able to align the diet changes with OT, we could have shaved a month or two off when we met with Marisa and when Natalie had her gold shining moment.
Before Marisa, I had no tools, no vocabulary, no support. Well meaning people often made the situation worse (well, if you just were more strict or didn't let her throw tantrums, etc.). I had no success and felt like I was fighting some invisible phantom. I could look at my daughter and just see that she physically, mentally, and emotionally didn't feel great. We still manage Natalie's sensory processing. However, Natalie can spend her energy growing and thriving, instead of spending her energy fighting her own SPD. I can spend my energy and time helping Natalie to grow and thrive, instead of fighting phantoms, fighting family, and fighting myself."
I know this may be shocking, but there is no miracle fix for your child’s behavior. Behavior intervention is a process that is filled with ups and downs and hopefully incredible triumphs that bring your family back to a place of enjoyment and a lot less worry. Developmental and behavioral concerns and disorders are considered to be multi-factorial, meaning that there is no single cause and likely no single treatment that will resolve the child’s problems or behaviors. Most unfortunately, many of our children need a multifaceted approach to healing and better function, but where do families get this, and who do they go to?
In order to truly get to the root causes of behavioral disorders and challenging behavior/development, we have to consider how genetic influences, metabolic dysfunction, diet, sleep, bathroom issues, the kind of child care/school environment they are in, the transitions they are going through, and how environmental factors and toxic exposures (infections, heavy metals, chemicals) affect their health and behavior. It is extremely hard and nearly impossible to find ONE physician or therapist who can do all of this.
That is where BHC steps in!
We are intentional about getting to the root cause of your child's issues, and getting the right kind of help around you in a whole-child, all encompassing approach. Children are not fixable, nor should they be. However, as we help them feel better, they do better, and in many cases, extremely better.
--Videos coming soon!!!--
Marisa has advocated and served struggling children both internationally and domestically for 16 years. She graduated with a Bachelors degree from Middle Tennessee State University and quickly progressed into on-the-ground training as she rescued and worked with abandoned street children in Africa. From 2008-2013 she traveled to 22 countries working to improve behavior and learning for street kids, orphans and impoverished children. She also trained childcare workers, orphanage caretakers, and directors in sensory processing and behavioral techniques.
In 2013 she became a certified Empowered To Connect - Parent Educator, a certificate focused on sensory integration for children from hard places and with histories of trauma. That same year she transitioned state-side and became the Extended School Program (ESP) Site Director for the city’s largest Special Education program. It was there that she piloted the district’s first after-school care sensory safe classroom for children with Autism, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).
In 2015 she noticed the love for but lack of understanding and care for children with sensory integration issues and special needs where her children attended a childcare program. In a short period of time she helped the program address higher level behavioral issues, and provided sensory and development training for teachers. She eventually created the program’s first inclusion program and went on to establish multiple inclusion programs and services in churches and childcare facilities within the Waco, TX community.
By early 2017, the needs of individual families struggling with home and early education was overwhelming. To meet the need she officially opened Behavioral Health Consulting.
Later that year an unexpected, life-changing job (for her husband) moved her family to Houston, Texas where she has continued her work.
Marisa now balances her time being a partner-in-crime with the best husband ever, trying not to be a neurotic mom who knows too many things, taking on as many private clients as her heart and energy can handle, and traveling throughout the US training facilities, churches and families on inclusion, sensory processing, anxiety, nutrition, development and adoption/foster care related trauma.
Motor Skill Development
Trauma Informed Classrooms
Pre and Post Foster/Adoption Support
Identifying Behavioral Disorders
Rare Behavioral Disorders
Food and Environmental Allergies
Candida (Yeast Overgrowth)
Why are your support packages only set up for up to 3 months?
Let me clarify, your behavioral intervention journey will not be limited to those three months. Many of the issues that I help uncover are systemic and need maintenance throughout the child's life. However, there has been a significant amount of research done on this topic, and the science has shown us that it takes 3 months for a child’s neurochemistry to change. Ironically, it also takes the same amount of time for a child's gut to go through it’s most significant healing stage. We have put this theory to test in many children and have found this information to be shockingly correct. Therefore, I have found it most beneficial to train families according to the natural progression of how a child’s body heals and learns to do better. The initial 3 months are absolutely the hardest, and I have found the more support a family has, the greater success of the child.
What is the process like?
In your Initial Consult, I will gather the information needed to put together suggestions for a workable plan. I will also give recommendations for any specific kinds of therapy, specific practitioners/therapists who I think could really help your child. Support will start right away once you choose your package. You do not need to worry about picking out a package until your Plan of Action meeting where I go over the suggestions with you. You will have a better understanding of how much support you will need at that point. The support needs of each family are different. At a minimum, most families need consistent communication for 1-3 months as they problem-solve, manage issues at school and/or home. If you do not find that your needs fall into one of my discounted packages, you can schedule individual sessions.
What happens after 3 months?
Most families feel equipped to after a 3-month period. At that point I can be called for any maintenance training, check-ins, continued teacher check-ins, Kindergarten preperation etc.
Are you a therapist, behavior specialist or doctor?
No. I consult with these providers regularly and pull their resources together for you as needed.
Do we have to change the food we eat to be one of your clients?
No. However, you will learn quickly that it will feel like we are paddling upstream in our interventions until you get the courage to do a temporary elimination diet. If you choose to do this trial intervention for your child (and family), you will have an incredible amount of support around you. Our mom's group and our Facebook groups are excellent resources with testimonials from other parents, shopping tips, baseline supplement suggestions, etc. to inspire you to go through the headache of food changes.
What if I open myself up to hope for my child and nothing changes?
I hear this a lot from new moms in our mom's group. Put your seat belt on! First of all, being in a community of people where you and your child are understood is life-changing. Secondly, we have an enormously good success rate of children doing better, exceptionally better, or functioning with little or no accommodations after one year of maintaining your plan. Much of the success depends on the parent's willingness to make the necessary changes and use their suggestions.
Do you only work with younger children?
No. My focus is on early intervention/prevention with babies/elementary school. However, when considering your child's needs, we address how the family functions as a whole. As we improve the health of your difficult child, we often see improvements in other siblings and parent's health and wellness. I do accept older clients and mothers having fertility issues depending on their circumstance.
Can I make payments?
The Initial Consult fee has to be paid in full before the Plan of Action meeting where you receive your detailed suggested plan and recommendations. This typically happens a week after your first appointment. We can extend the meeting to a month later if necessary.
Your Support Package option can be paid monthly or in full.
Do you take insurance?
How does billing work?
You will receive an invoice that you can pay online with a credit or debit card. You can also pay cash or with a check.
Do you offer screenings?
Yes. I provide a free 20 minute call to discuss your situation to make sure I am the right fit for your family.