Judy Salmon, Naturopath and Homeopath, specialises in the treatment of Autism, ADHD and chronic diseases.
Judy graduated from the Australasian College of Natural Therapies in 1998 and co-authored “Autism and Attention Deficit Disorders – Understanding and Managing Diet Therapy for your child.” Judy’s therapies include diet management, herbal medicine, homeopathy and flower essences.
Prior to becoming a naturopath and homeopath, Judy worked in clinical laboratories and medical research in the areas of organ transplantation, cancer research and neurobiology.
Having overcome huge challenges in her life, Judy now lives her dream of being a bridge between orthodox and complementary medicine.
Incorrectly diagnosed as a young child with osteogenesis imperfecta (a genetic bone disorder), Judy was hospitalised at the age of two. Having undergone hip surgery at the children’s ward at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Judy spent eleven months in hospital encased in plaster. During that traumatic time in hospital baby Judy only saw her family for three hours a week (the permitted visiting hours at the time). Unlike most two year olds who were growing up in a caring home environment where they were able to develop their social and emotional skills, Judy suffered a deep sense of abandonment. Two year olds are learning about relationships and coming to know what they want and who they are. At this critical time in Judy’s development, there was very little interaction with her family, no goodnight stories snuggled up in bed, no family meals, no communication with children her age, or the ongoing love, affection and encouragement toddlers need for their development.
It is no wonder that fear and loneliness caused Judy to withdraw into her own world nor that she has very few memories up to the age of seven.
In the recovery phase, Judy had to learn to walk all over again. Further difficulties followed when she broke her femur upon leaving hospital.
As a young adult, Judy was re-diagnosed with cleidal cranial dysplasia, an even rarer genetic condition.
Judy’s early school years were difficult as her fellow students often teased her for being a small fragile child with glasses. Without the necessary social skills to interact with other children, Judy often felt defenceless and confused. During those years she remembers feeling like an outsider, unable to “fit in” and being fearful. As a means of escape, Judy became “a daydreamer”, and an avid reader.
As a consequence of her early hospital experiences, Judy had aspirations of becoming a paediatric nurse, a person who would “protect the children and make sure there was someone there for them”. However, due to her fragile physical condition, Judy heeded the advice of her treating specialist and did not pursue this vocation. The thought of being a doctor also crossed her mind but realising her grades would not be high enough, decided on studying science instead. She enrolled in a Bachelor of Applied Science degree at the University of Technology, Sydney, majoring in haematology and immunology. This decision would have made her grandfather happy as he had supplied science magazines in her teenage years, and he also ignited her love of travel.
Judy continued her studies at Curtin University in Western Australia. It was here that Judy was involved in a major motorcycle accident and spent seven months in hospital undergoing three surgeries and further three surgeries in the seven years it took her to heal. Judy experienced severe depression following the accident realising she had put on many masks growing up, trying to fit in, and had “no sense of strong identity”. The accident had the impact of shattering her illusions on all levels – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. She had been “shattered into a million pieces”.
Judy returned to Sydney upon completion of her studies, and commenced work as a research scientist with the Red Cross and the Westmead Hospital. After six years in research science, she began work as a medical sales representative. However at that time Judy was diagnosed with severe osteoporosis and faced the prospect of becoming wheelchair bound over the next two decades.
Traveling to faraway places
After twelve months working as a medical sales representative, one morning Judy awoke dissatisfied with her life, realising that the medical world was no longer her path. She resigned from her job and traveled the world following a dream she had from her teenage years. Judy fondly recalls her travels through the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Canada and the United States as a “discovery of self, trying on different personalities”, a stark contrast to “being what everyone else wanted”.
Whilst sightseeing at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, Judy had an epiphany that her true call was alternative medicine. She recalled a sense of inner peace that overcame her; she felt everything would work out and that she needed to “live for the moment and not worry about tomorrow”. In Ireland, Judy tracked down long lost family relatives. As she delved further into her ancestral history, she discovered a family lineage of healers. One of Judy’s relatives is Sister Consilio an Irish nun who established a charitable drug, alcohol and gambling rehabilitation organisation Cuan Mhuire. Judy’s mother had wanted to study medicine, but this opportunity was not afforded to a woman of her generation.
Let the journey begin
Returning to Australia in 1994, Judy joined the Garvan Institute as a research scientist in the neurobiology molecular genetics field. She enrolled in a naturopathy course and worked as a massage therapist. After two and half years in research science, Judy decided to concentrate fully on her naturopathic studies, cutting what she thought were the final threads to western science.
She started treating her osteoporosis, deciding that her “bones” would no longer control her. Judy realised she was not simply “a textbook case” and decided to challenge the medical profession from a patient’s perspective.
Over time, her condition halted and her last test showed her bones were now in the normal bone density range much to the surprise and joy of her treating specialist.
In 1999, Judy commenced work as a naturopath. One of her first patients was a three year old girl diagnosed with Autism and epilepsy. Judy started delving more into these conditions, specifically into the available overseas research and treatment methods. She ordered blood tests, tested the flora in the intestinal tract and introduced dietary changes, all of which saw significant improvements in her patients.
Always the one willing to learn new developments, Judy attended the Mind of a Child conference held in Sydney in 2000. This conference introduced her to various practitioners treating Autism and ADHD. In 2001, she attended the DAN (Defeat Autism Now) conference in the United States and was the only naturopath in attendance at the conference, as Autism was still seen as incurable and only treatable by the medical profession. It was after this conference she realised she would have to call forth her research skills and find a way of incorporating the latest scientific research with her holistic outlook and complimentary therapies.
Over time her practice has grown and includes patients and young adults with Asperger’s, ADHD, Down Syndrome and other learning and behavioural issues. In treating the children, she also confronted her early childhood fears.
Judy works with a team of therapists to establish the most effective forms of treatment. She strongly believes that the old therapies aimed at children with Autism are focused on trying to “bring the children into our world, and make them fit the neuro-typical world”. Judy believes that the effective treatments result from entering the worlds of her patients, “accepting them for who they are” and helping them. She is a strong believer in holistic medicine which she considers addresses the real causes of illness and disease, and not merely treats the symptoms as traditional medicine does.
By achieving the balance of the underlying systems of our bodies the symptoms of many disorders can be diminished or resolved.
Judy is incredibly grateful for the lessons and wisdom she has received from working with her patients and their families. She refers to them as her “teachers”. With their support and encouragement in her early years as a naturopath, Judy started to think outside the box, learnt to expand, to be daring and to trust herself. For Judy, the behaviour of the children she treats is their language, and she is required to read these behaviours as they are full of meaning. Judy is teaching us all to look at the children affected by Autism and ADHD in a different way.
Shaping the future
Judy’s extensive clinical experience has been supported by an ever expanding number of scientific studies, and she is in the process of writing her second book to assist children, families, professionals and the broader community in treating Autism, ADHD, mental / chronic illnesses, and any child or adult who has been given a label.
Judy is passionate about helping people with disabilities. Growing up, she experienced firsthand the bias, prejudice and ignorance possessed by many of us. As Judy poignantly states, “the real issue is about not being acknowledged, seen and really heard”.