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Almost Autism: Author, Speaker, and Practitioner Maria Rickert Hong

Our newest guest was researched and found by our Mental Health News Radio co-host Melanie Vann. This is a subject near and dear to her heart so it was important to interview one of the leading experts on Sensory Processing Disorder. Autism, and ADHD.

Maria Rickert Hong is an author, speaker, and practitioner working with parents and children all over the United States. Through her own experiences as a parent of a child with Sensory Processing Disorder, Maria discusses her journey aiding her family to wellness.

With personal stories as well as examples of her work with parents and children, she answers our pointed questions, offers guidance, and hope.

Please enjoy Maria Rickert Hong on Mental Health News Radio!


MariaRickartHongWhat is Sensory Processing Disorder? Why do you call it “Almost Autism”?

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is when a child is either over- or under-sensitive to sensory stimuli such as lights, sounds, taste, touch, smell and motion. I call it “almost autism” because there is a lot of overlap between SPD. Most, if not all, children with autism have SPD, although SPD can also be a standalone disorder.

How did you become a health coach that helps parents recover their kids from neurodevelopmental disorders such as Sensory Processing Disorder, almost autism, autism and ADHD?

I was an equity research analyst on Wall Street up until my first son was born. I quit when he was born, and I’m glad I did because he had a host of health issues such as SPD, developmental delays, hypotonia, projectile vomiting, acid reflux, failure to thrive, eczema, allergies and asthma. After I learned what it took to recover my sons, I wanted to help other parents understand how to recover theirs.

Tell us about your book “Almost Autism: Recovering Children from Sensory Processing Disorder, A Reference for Parents and Practitioners”.

As a parent of a child with SPD, I was frustrated because most doctors don’t understand the causes of SPD and other neurodevelopmental disorders, and they certainly don’t understand what it takes to recover children. My book is, as Bob Sears MD calls it, “the roadmap parents need to beat Sensory Processing Disorder”.

Why does my child with a neurodevelopmental disorder also have allergies, asthma, constipation or diarrhea, dark circles under his eyes, acid reflux, anxiety and/or red cheeks or ears after eating?

In my book, I write about the causes of SPD: toxicity, gut dysbiosis, immune dysregulation, inflammation, hormonal imbalances and nutritional deficiencies. These underlying causes can and generally do lead to these other comorbid symptoms. In fact, these symptoms are what we call the “soft signs”, and children who exhibit them are very much at risk for developing neurodevelopmental disorders.

Why don’t most parents and practitioners know that recovery is possible from these disorders?

Most western medical doctors are taught how to relieve symptoms through medication or surgery. Very few dig down to deeper to understand the root causes of these symptoms. If you know what the root causes are, you know how to undo them, which is what functional medicine practitioners and naturopaths are taught.

What about genetics – isn’t Autism Speaks looking for the genetic cause of autism?

That’s the thing: we need to be looking at the EPIGENETIC cause of these disorders. The easiest way to think about it is that genetics loads the gun, but environment pulls the trigger. It’s the same with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders as it is for cancer, autoimmune disorders, Parkinson’s, MS, Alzheimer’s, ALS and more. You may have a genetic risk, but that gene doesn’t get expressed unless it’s exposed to toxicity and poor nutrition.

Aren’t there more kids with autism just because doctors are diagnosing it more?

Twenty-five years ago, the autism rate was one in 10,000 children. Today it’s one in 68, and it’s projected to be ONE IN TWO by the year 2025 if this trend continues. If the true autism rate is really the same, where are all the adults with autism? Ask any teacher who’s been around for a while, and she or he will tell you that there is a true increase in not just autism, but “almost autism”, ADHD, asthma and allergies.

How do I go about recovering my child?

That’s what I help parents do! I help parents understand the root causes I’ve told you about and how to undo them. First and foremost is a change in diet. There’s a saying that “If diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. If diet is correct, medicine is of no need.” Ask any parent who has recovered their child, and they will tell you that a change in diet is key. In addition to dietary changes, I help parents make lifestyle choices, prioritize therapies and add in supplement and practitioner selection specific to their child’s needs.

Tell us about your role at Epidemic Answers.

Epidemic Answers is a 501(c)3 non-profit that lets parents know that recovery is possible from these disorders I’ve described. At Epidemic Answers, I’m a board member and blogger, as well as the Media Director. I host monthly webinars for Epidemic Answers and for my own health-coaching practice in which I interview experts in the field about recovery.


Maria Rickart Hong is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor who helps parents recover their children with diet and lifestyle changes from symptoms of:

• Almost autism
• Sensory Processing Disorder
• Autism

She recovered her health as well as her sons’ health with food, occupational therapies and a biomedical approach. Her sons had Sensory Processing Disorder (she calls it “almost autism”), asthma, allergies and acid reflux, while she had shingles (twice!), severe fatigue, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, bronchitis, irritability and insomnia.

Before her sons were born, she was an equity research analyst working at Wall Street investment banks. Because she had learned how to research an issue, she discovered that the roots of her sons’ and her own illnesses and of most children’s and adults’ chronic illnesses are:

• Toxicity from heavy metals, endocrine disruptors and other toxins
• Gut dysbiosis
• Immune dysregulation
• Nutritional deficiencies
• Hormonal imbalances, especially adrenal and thyroid hormones
• Chronic inflammation

She can show you how to reverse symptoms of these conditions with food, supplement and lifestyle choices. She is highly connected to doctors, therapists and healers of many different healing modalities. She can make specific and individualized recommendations for tests and therapies that would also be helpful.

She is the author of the best-selling book, “Almost Autism: Recovering Children from Sensory Processing Disorder, A Reference for Parents and Practitioners“.

She is also a Board Member, Media Director and blogger for Epidemic Answers, a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose goal is to help parents recover their children from these and other chronic illnesses.


Facebook:  Maria Rickert Hong Nutritional Healing

Twitter:  @mariarickert

LinkedIn:  Maria Rickert Hong, CHHC, AADP


Almost Autism:


Twitter:  @almostautism

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