Shawna Kunselman, MSACN
Functional Medicine Clinical Nutritionist
After graduating with my Bachelor's degree in Psychology in 2000, I worked as a Mental Health Professional for children with special needs ranging from Downs Syndrome to ADHD and Bipolar.
The majority of these kids were over-medicated, sick and showed little improvement over the years.
After years of working as a mental health professional, I was discouraged by the lack of progress these kids made and the system I was working under. I began having an internal passion for alternative healing and I pursued a career in massage therapy.
My passion for holistic health and finding root causes and real reasons for chronic conditions grew even more deeply when my oldest son was diagnosed with moderate autism.
After his diagnosis, I dug deep into research and I continued to be led to resources regarding gluten free/casein free diets for autism and nutritional deficiencies in relation to behaviors. After many months of researching and discussing this with my husband, we finally decided to begin the path to making this change for our family.
Through our journey, I saw the increasing need of nutritional intervention due to so many inflammatory conditions affecting our society.
I became intently focused on understanding the biochemistry of our bodies and the specifics of using special diets to help autism and other inflammatory conditions.
Research is showing that many inflammatory conditions begin with the malfunction of the GI tract which evolves from overuse of antibiotics, pesticides, and chemicals from our foods, plastics, etc. These components kill off the good protective bacteria in our digestive tract putting the immune system at critical risk. The good bacteria in our digestive system is crucial in keeping the GI tract intact.
After my son's diagnoses, we met with Clinical Nutritionists and specialized doctors, and learned what was happening in his body on a biochemistry basis, which in turn, led to specific behaviors.
We had our son tested for food allergies, food sensitivities, specific bacteria, yeast, and viruses. He tested with a high intolerance to gluten, dairy, and citrus. The gluten and casein were reacting like drugs in his body which is why that was the only thing he would eat. His gut was low in good bacteria, and high in bad bacteria and yeast. He tested low in several critical nutrients such as B12, Vitamin E, and Chromium–all very important in neurological function. The bacteria, yeast and food intolerance's were preventing him from absorbing important nutrients.
With the nutritional implications we set in place, he was so much more able to focus and learn in his therapies. We continued improving his diet and added supplements needed based on nutritional deficiencies.
The Autism Research Institute has a checklist tool called ATEC (autism treatment evaluation checklist), which marks improvements based on therapies you are using. When we first took the ATEC when he was 5 years old, his ATEC was in the high 80’s. The higher the number, the more severe the autism. Now he scores at a 6, which is a very mild form of Autism.
My hope is to inspire others to become more aware of the impact our food and environment has on our health.
Master of Science in Applied Clinical Nutrition, New York Chiropractic College (2016)
Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Angelo State University (2000)
Licensed in Massage Therapy, Austin Schools of Massage Therapy (2004)
Additional Education & Certification in:
Socialization Techniques for Children
Behavioral Intervention in Children and Adolescents