Meet Mom Next Door And Autism Blogger Kristen Creel
The mom of three shares her success with biomedical treatment
Words Nicole Jordan, Photography Nick Prendergast
Published July 2019 DFWThrive
Updated July 29, 2019
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Nearly a decade ago, Kristen Creel and her husband of nine years, Joshua, moved from their native Mississippi to Dallas-Fort Worth so Joshua could attend chiropractic school at Parker University. Creel worked in advertising sales for a small firm in Plano and spent time as a marketing director for Chick-fil-A before trading in her corporate career for a different (albeit no less demanding) gig: stay-at-home mom. Creel says it’s hard to remember what life was like before she became a mom. Even as a little girl, the 31-year-old dreamed of growing up to have a house full of kids, biological and adopted. Now residing in McKinney, where Joshua practices, the Creel brood includes 6-year-old Bennett and 3-year-olds Evie and Maxwell. In a turn of events no one could have anticipated, Creel was eight months pregnant with Maxwell when the adoption agency she and Joshua had been working with called to say they’d been matched. Evie came home shortly thereafter, and Maxwell, who has autism, was born one month later. These days, Creel spends her time caring for the kids and navigating the ins and outs of parenting a child with autism. Since seeing vast improvements in Maxwell through biomedical treatment, she’s made it her mission to help him recover from autism and to help others by documenting her story on recoveringmaxwell.com.

SPECIAL NEEDS: What was it like to adopt a newborn and give birth a month later?
KRISTEN CREEL: It’s not how we planned it. We were six months into the adoption process when we found out we were pregnant with Maxwell, which was a complete surprise. So we called the agency, and the director told us we could remain active. Then, we got a call that a birth mom had chosen us. She knew we were pregnant and wanted her child to go to a family that had siblings.

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STARTER KIT
Our Mom Next Door shares her favorite autism reads, resources and more.

HER FAVORITE ORGANIZATIONS
The Autism Community in Action (TACA)
TACA is an amazing organization and we have a great local chapter that provides education, support and hope to families living with autism.” 
tacanow.org
Autism International Association
nonprofit organization that offers an annual conference and online videos for families doing biomedical treatment. 
autismone.org
Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs (MAPS)
Features MAPS doctor directory. 
medmaps.org 

HER TOP READS
Healing the New Childhood Epidemics by Dr. Kenneth Bock
Dr. Bock shares a comprehensive program targeting all four of the 4-A disorders. 
The Autism Book by Dr. Robert Sears
Dr. Sears offers guidance on how parents can proceed once an autism diagnosis has been made. 
My favorite blog and Facebook group is Recovering Kids.
recoveringkids.com 

HER LOCAL HANGOUTS
For girls night, I love to go to Harvest on the McKinney Square. And Josh and I frequently go to Legacy West for date nights.
Harvest // 112 E. Louisiana Street, McKinney; 214/726-0251; harvesttx.com
Legacy West // 5908 Headquarters Drive, Plano; 469/609-1500; legacywest.com 

 Maxwell loves the outdoor pool and slides at Apex Centre, so we go there every weekend during the summer. He also enjoys playing on the playground at Hat Creek Burger Company. Our favorite park is Hope Park in Frisco, which has playgrounds and a splash pad.
Apex Centre // 3003 Alma Road, McKinney; 972/547-2739; mckinneytexas.org
Hat Creek Burger Company // Multiple locations; hatcreekburgers.com
Hope Park // 8000 McKinney Road, Frisco 

 “Maxwell doesn’t really play with specific sensory toys, but there’s a fantastic store in North Dallas called Stacy’s Sensory Solutions. We also love the high-quality toys at Play Street Museum.” 
Stacy’s Sensory Solutions // 16910 Dallas Pkwy., Suite 102, Dallas; 469/209-5896; stacyssensorysolutions.com
Play Street Museum // Multiple locations; playstreetmuseum.com 

SN: What put adoption on your heart?
KC: It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl. A family in my hometown adopted from China and I was captivated by their story.

SN: When did you begin to have concerns about Maxwell?
KC: Once he hit 15 months, we started to notice a regression. He went from a happy baby to crying constantly, almost overnight. It kept getting worse and our pediatrician urged us to see a doctor for autism testing. She told us that it was level three, low-functioning autism.

SN: What went through your mind as you heard that?
KC: We were completely devastated. We did some research online and read that parents of kids with similar diagnoses were told to start looking at institutions. We left that appointment feeling hopeless.

SN: When did you discover MAPS?
KC: I had one friend with a child with autism, so I gave her a call. She said, “I’m going to give you some hope. There’s something called biomedical treatment with specially trained doctors. They’re called MAPS doctors, which stands for Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs, and they’re recovering kids from autism.” I immediately bought every single book I could find on the topic. I became obsessed with it. We got the diagnosis in January of 2017 and had our first appointment with a MAPS doctor in May 2017. We started a treatment plan, and within a couple of days, Maxwell began to respond really well.

SN: What does his treatment plan entail?
KC: The first step was removing dairy and gluten. When we did that, his crying stopped. Then, we did blood testing to figure out Maxwell’s nutritional and mineral levels. From there, the doctor put together a customized plan. A large percentage of children with autism have comorbid medical conditions, ranging from mitochondrial dysfunction to yeast or bacterial overgrowth and seizures. We just found out Maxwell has Lyme disease. He also has a potentially life-threatening peanut allergy and gut issues. Basically, by treating these comorbid medical conditions, some children with autism can fully recover.

SN: And how is he doing today?
KC: It’s been up and down, but right now he’s doing really well. He has over 300 words. He’s happy. By kindergarten, we expect for there to be enough healing that he can go to a mainstream classroom.

SN: How have you coped with all of this?
KC: It’s been really difficult. Basically, it’s a full-time job. I feel like I’m in the car all day taking him to and from therapy. He does 30 hours a week of ABA, speech and occupational therapy. Thankfully, Josh is available to help at night, and I’m a stay-at-home mom, so I’m able to devote all of my time and attention toward getting him better.

SN: What led you to launch the blog, Recovering Maxwell?
KC: Josh actually came to me and said, “We need to put this out there so other families know this is an option.” Hearing that we helped one family keeps us pushing through and sharing our story. When any parent hears this diagnosis, it’s devastating. I think parents are ecstatic to learn there’s another option.

SN: How have you and Josh navigated this as a couple?
KC: We try to take a vacation together without the kids once a year. We do date nights. I think it also helps that we’re both 110% on board with this treatment, because it’s financially draining. We’re also really grounded in our faith.

SN: How do you balance Maxwell’s care with Bennett and Evie’s needs?
KC: We do one-on-one date nights on the weekends. Like last weekend Josh took our oldest to the movies and to dinner.

SN: And how about you? Are you always an afterthought?
KC: I try to take time out of the house without the kids to go to the mall or get a pedicure. I do girls’ dinners every now and then.

SN: How has being Maxwell’s mom changed you as a person?
KC: It’s made me so much stronger as a person. It’s changed our whole family. It’s made us more compassionate to families that have kids with special needs.

SN: What advice do you give to families just starting their journey with autism?
KC: Dig into research. If you have a doctor that’s telling you there’s nothing you can do, move on to a different doctor. Keep that hope and keep fighting for your kid.

SN: Do you think about where you’ll be as a family five or 10 years down the road?
KC: do. I’m so futuristic. I just see us as a happy family, with Maxwell recovered, doing well in school and having friends. That helps me stay focused in this journey. Hopefully, in five years we’re past autism. But I want to remain a family that continues to pour into others.