Practitioner Spotlight: Jackie Silver, MHSc, RD, Filling the Gap & Finding Her Niche
September 30, 2022
September 30, 2022
Our Practitioner Spotlights celebrate the many ways that our practitioners are using Practice Better to help support their business goals and improve clients’ lives. This month, we had the chance to speak with Jackie Silver, a Toronto-based registered dietician who runs a private practice and consulting business, Jackie Silver Nutrition, focused mainly on neurodivergent kids, teens, and adults. She works with a wide variety of clients with autism, ADHD, and intellectual/developmental disabilities on a range of nutritional issues such as picky eating, nutrient deficiencies, digestive issues, meal prep and planning, malnutrition, and disordered eating patterns.
The second focus of her business includes consulting work for various organizations. Some examples of her focus include resource development for disability organizations to nutrition pilot projects for autism nonprofits.
Explore Jackie’s blog for recipes and evidence-based blog posts on nutrition topics tailored to the neurodivergent and disabled communities.
When I opened my private practice during the pandemic, my original intention was to focus on adults with physical disabilities (I’m a wheelchair user, so this is a population of interest for me) such as spinal cord injury, spina bifida, etc., and for some reason, this niche never took off.
During my dietetic internship for my master’s degree, I did a rotation with Special Olympics Ontario, where I ran nutrition workshops for athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As I was creating a profile on a health professional directory, I ticked off the box for autism and started receiving several requests to work with autistic kids and adults.
It became clear very quickly that there is a huge need for working with the neurodivergent community as not many dietitians are doing so.
I soon realized I had a lot to learn as I did not learn much about this area in my training, so I signed up for any webinar or course I could find. I’ve taken courses on picky eating for kids with sensory issues, mindful eating, eating disorder supervision groups, and more. The learning never ends.
It’s been almost two years of my practice, and 90% of my clientele are neurodivergent. I love the niche that I’m in and the variety it includes. My clients range from being nonverbal and living in group homes to autistic adults who live independently and struggle with executive dysfunction around meal planning.
Yes, collaboration is key. So far, I have collaborated with therapists, social workers, case coordinators at group homes, behavior therapists, nurses, and occupational therapists.
For my clients living in group homes, I typically work with the group home staff, supervisors, case coordinators, and behavior therapists to communicate the plan and support them in implementation.
For clients with disordered eating patterns, I’ll often chat with their therapist to hear their perspectives and ensure we’re on the same page with the messaging that’s being delivered.
I offer three unique packages for my clients, separated into pediatric and adult packages. They all start with a 60-minute initial consultation and then vary in the number of follow-up sessions. The third package comes with a personalized one-week meal plan that I create using meal planning software and a mindful eating guide, a sample one-week meal plan, and a meal prep guide (which are automated, so they receive it when they book a package).
I offer a free 15-minute discovery call booking that I promote on my website, email signature, email list, and health professional directories.
I created a consent form and detailed intake questionnaire that I send to every client. I also created packages in Practice Better that are sent via email to clients along with their invoice, an invitation to create their account, and to schedule their first session.
I love having everything I need located in one place. When you run your business, there are many moving pieces and projects to keep on top of. Having all my notes, protocols, health documents, messages, calendar, and more in one place helps me stay organized and gives me the confidence that personal health information is stored securely and confidentially.
I find that neurodivergent folks do well with repetition and having reminders in writing which is why the ability to send them protocols with all the session notes has been invaluable. The automatic session reminders are also a huge help for my clients.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Jackie!
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Published August 27, 2023
UPDATE (August 27, 2023): Following up on our original interview, we’re back with Josh Gitalis, 4 years after we first interviewed him. Witness the evolution…