Community Acupuncture is Child Friendly

D. is ten. His mother had called a week ago, explaining that he has retinitis pigmentosis, something I had never heard of before, but upon briefly researching, learned to be a genetic disease that may lead to blindness.

D. was obviously nervous about acupuncture. He’d been under the hypodermic needle many times, in and out of hospitals for unrelated health issues. His mom intuitively understood that if she got treated first (she has allergies), that would reassure him that acupuncture is safe, gentle, and relatively painless.

I put about 10 needles in mom. I would’ve put more, but with the little guy watching, I didn’t want to overwhelm him. I told him that we could go one at a time. Maybe 4 needles would be enough. But he started crying, and wanted to wait for dad. I said, sure, no problem, and he called dad on the cell phone. He was right outside in the hallway of the community center.

Dad showed up, and D. said he would try it. I asked him to take a deep breath and then blow the air out, doing the same with him. I put in a point on his hand, between the thumb and forefinger. He didn’t even blink. Then another on the opposite side. Then I put in one on the lateral corner of the eye. That one got a little grimace, but he let me put one more. 

His tears were all dry now and he was sitting there, eyes open, beginning to accept the possibility that this might just help him. I left the treatment room and when I returned in ten minutes, he was sleeping. Dad was seated nearby, watching. Mom was still relaxing with needles helping open up her sinuses. 45 minutes more passed and D. was still sleeping. I decided it was time to pull his needles, and still, he did not wake up until dad roused him gently.

We talked. I told him that I thought that I could help him if he could come in twice a week with his mom. Would that be okay? I asked. He said “okay.”

river Jordan
Author: river Jordan

After graduating from the Northwest Institute of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine in 1997, I had a hobby practice for a few years before moving to Northern India to study Buddhism. During this time, I volunteered in a local clinic, giving acupuncture to Tibetan refugees and Indian nationals. <p> Returning to the U.S. in 2002, I started a typical insurance based acupuncture practice catering to the upper middle class. In 2005, following Hurricane Katrina, I volunteered with <a href="" target="_blank">Acupuncturists Without Borders</a>, using community style acupuncture to treat trauma victims in a natural disaster setting. </p> Inspired by the power and efficacy of acupuncture in a post-disaster setting, I began to contemplate issues of socioeconomic class. What could be done to make acupuncture accessible to everyone and still provider a livable wage for an acupuncturist? After attending WCA's first conference in October of 2006, I had found the answer to that question. In January 2007, together with my partner Serena Sundaram, we founded <a href="" target="_blank">Communichi</a>, Seattle's first dedicated community acupuncture clinic. <p> As a Buddhist, I believe that healing begins in the mind. As the positive qualities of wisdom and compassion are cultivated in the mind of a practitioner, this...

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  1. Beautiful.

    I love how CA normalized acupuncture for children, how they walk into a room of sleepy adults and see that it’s not as scary as they might have imagined.  Children respond so quickly to acupuncture.  They are a joy to work with!

  2. nice

    treating kids can be really cool. It doesn’t happen all that often for us, but when the occasion comes up, it can be a really nice experience.



  3. yes, absolutely

    It sounds like you did things just right with that kid; and it’s great that he has access to you! LOVE the sleeping part of the story. 

    Three kids are signing up to come in here; I have a five-year old and so get questions from her friends’ parents…what would you do for ADHD, insomnia etc…

    For awhile, it seemed like it might be more comfortable for the kids if we had a regular kids’ clinic time. Now I think they’ll just come into a warm, friendly environment, get to participate as full members, and that the community experience is just as valuable as whatever therapy used…

  4. yes, definately


    wow, so cool that we have a kid who was diagnosed so early and is starting tx and accepting it well. Sounds like you handled him well, I think you are better with kids than me (comes of being a dad I bet!)

    Anyway, my dad and uncle had/have RP, no real “may” about it heading into blindness according to Western medicine. Its a pretty inevitable decline which they have had limited success slowing down. Acupuncture has been very helpful in slowing down the retinal nerve degeneration though. The big fancy dedicated acupuncture  for degenerative eye disorders clinic in Denmark that my uncle has gone to a few times focused on Liver blood xu as the underlying for this. 

     I am so glad that the little one responded so well to the needles and atmosphere, I love this model so much more every day!





    “I’m trying to change the world, I don’t have time for a grudge match with every poser with a parka” Dr. Horrible

  5. progress report

    He’s getting his 3rd (biweekly) treatment right now…sitting right next to mum of course. We’ve sneaked the needle count up to 8 now, but I’ll probably stop there. Seems to be a little more relaxed with each tx.