Speech and Language Issues

What Are Speech and Language?

Speech and language issues are common in children with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder and learning disabilities.

Speech

Speech is the mechanical means of the oral motor mechanism to create sounds. Intelligible speech requires sufficient muscle tone for the lips, jaw, tongue and cheeks to work together as a team to produce functional verbal communication. Sometimes people use the word “articulation” for speech.

Language

Language, on the other hand, is how the brain processes the information that it hears. Language can be receptive (understanding) or expressive (communicating). Receptive language allows a person to give meaning to what is heard. It is comprehension. It begins to develop in the first year of life in a typical child.

Expressive language is the ability to be able to share thoughts, ideas and feelings. It can be verbal (with sound) or non-verbal (with gestures, signing or use of technology). It generally does not begin to emerge until the second year of life.

What Your Doctor May Tell You About Speech and Language

Lack of the emergence of speech and language is one of the first areas of concern for parents. Your pediatrician may tell you not to be so concerned, as all kids are different, or that boys talk later. He or she may also recommend a hearing test to rule out auditory problems.

If the child is over two, your doctor will usually suggest an evaluation from a speech-language pathologist, or at a communication disorders clinic, or refer you to your local early intervention services.

Another Way to Think About Speech and Language

Early intervention is imperative, but please know that a nonspeaking child very often has very good receptive language; they may understand everything that is said to them and around them but likely lack the fine-motor ability to speak. Nonspeakers can learn to communicate with assistive technology with their gross-motor skills using letterboards.

If you suspect a speech and language delay, the earlier you recognize that your child is not meeting developmental milestones and implement intervention strategies, the better the chances of more effective outcomes for your child.

The most important goal is to discover why a child lacks understanding of what is said or is not talking. Look at all possibilities. The answer is rarely one thing; it is usually a combination of some or all of the following:

While a hearing deficit is an obvious reason for speech and language delays, very often, some underlying biomedical reasons that are not so obvious are at play.

Biomedical Issues

Researchers have recently made great gains in the understanding of biomedical causes of speech and language issue, such as:

Once underlying biological issues are addressed, speech and language may improve gradually, or could even emerge spontaneously. Other senses besides hearing can also impact upon speech and language.

Vestibular Issues

The body’s vestibular system, which creates balance and equilibrium, plays a significant role. Children with vestibular dysfunction may have auditory and language processing problems.

Vision Issues

Vision refers to the brain’s ability to process the information coming in through the eyes; acuity refers to the eyes’ ability to see well at a certain distance. Visual processing uses up most of the brain’s bandwidth, and having impaired vision can cause undue strain on other functions of the brain, including speech and language.

Therefore, once a child’s visual processing issues are corrected with vision therapy, his or her language may improve because the brain now has more capacity.

Speech and Language Healing Checklist

Have Your Child Evaluated for a Tongue Tie

Many children with a neurodevelopmental disorder often have tongue ties, which means that their tongues cannot move freely around their mouths, leading to problems with swallowing and verbalizing. A tongue tie is difficult to evaluate, and you may get different answers from different practitioners.

Find a practitioner who is adept at looking for tongue ties; one who works in conjunction with myofascial therapists and oral motor therapists is best.

Consider Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)

If your child had a difficult birth resulting in insufficient oxygen to the brain or a negative reaction to routine childhood medical interventions, consider Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, which can increase oxygen levels in the brain. Because this type of therapy is also helpful for stroke victims, you may want to consider that your child may have had a stroke.

Consider a One-on-One Educational Program in the Home and at School

If you are home schooling, the Vince Carbone Clinic and CARD (Center for Autism and Related Disorders) are good resources for you to check into.

Make Lifestyle Changes

  • Get 10 hours of sleep per night (or more if your child is under 10)
  • Get outside every day
  • Get an hour of exercise or movement per day
  • Sync circadian rhythm by getting up when the sun does and going to bed after it sets
  • Limit screen time as much as possible
  • Use blue-blocking lightbulbs and glasses at night, especially when looking at screens
  • Put bare feet in wet ground when possible
  • Drink half body weight in ounces of water

Eat a Clean Diet

Use Only High-Quality Fats

  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil (unheated)
  • Avocados
  • Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT) oil
  • Grass-fed ghee
  • Duck fat
  • Grass-fed beef tallow
  • Cod liver oil (unheated)
  • Walnut oil (unheated)

Remove Vegetable Oils and Trans Fats

  • Canola
  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Safflower
  • Sunflower
  • Hydrogenated vegetable oils (Crisco, etc.)
  • Margarine

Include High-Quality Protein with Every Meal

  • Pasture-raised eggs, chicken and other fowl
  • Grass-fed beef, lamb and other red meats
  • Wild-caught fish
  • Legumes
  • Nuts

Eliminate High-Glutamate Foods

These foods and ingredients can exacerbate neurological symptoms because of the excitoxicity they cause in the brain. These are some of the most-common, high-glutamate foods to remove:

  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Soy protein isolate
  • Yeast extract
  • Gelatin
  • Barley malt
  • Bouillon
  • Natural flavors
  • Artificial flavors
  • Soy sauce
  • Corn starch
  • Others

Add Fermented Foods and Probiotics

These will keep the gastrointestinal system and microbiome healthy and strong which in turn will keep the immune system strong.

  • Eat kefir yogurts, if dairy is tolerated
  • Eat fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kim chi
  • Eat umeboshi plums, which are very alkalizing
  • Eat miso soup, if soy is tolerated
  • Take a quality probiotic, such as VSL #3, Gut Pro, Dr. Ohirra’s Live Cultured Probiotics, Garden of Life, Klaire Labs. Work with your practitioner for a more targeted probiotic.

Optimize Blood Sugar

Blood sugar that is too high can lead to excess inflammation and hormonal imbalances.

Blood sugar that is too low can lead to attention and behavioral problems.

We recommend keeping blood sugar optimized so that it's neither too low nor too high.

Do an Elimination Diet

Children with chronic health conditions often have hidden food sensitivities and intolerances that exacerbate their symptoms. With an elimination diet, remove potentially inflammatory foods such as:

  • Casein
  • Gluten
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Nuts
  • Peanuts

Clean up Your Environment

  • Identify and remove possible environmental triggers, such as mold, dust, pet dander, and electromagnetic fields (EMFs)
  • Identify and remove possible toxic exposures in the home from purchased products, such as detergents, soaps, lotions, and other cleaning and personal care products
  • Remove animals (both live and stuffed!)
  • Remove carpets
  • Use non-toxic cleaners
  • Use non-toxic building materials

Lower Stress Levels

Viruses, bacteria and other pathogens become more active when the body is in a state of stress.

By teaching your child ways to self-regulate with practices such as prayer, reiki, meditation, yoga, qi gong, tai chi and the Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping), they can become good advocates for themselves and become active participants in the recovery process.

Practitioners of techniques such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Retraining) and jin shin jyutsu can lower stress levels for your child, as well.

See a Homeopath, Naturopath or Homotoxicologist

These practitioners can diagnose and treat gastrointestinal disorders naturally so that the child’s immune, sensory, neurological and nervous systems develop without being compromised.

Ask Your Practitioner to Run Some Laboratory Tests

  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) for possible food sensitivities and allergies
  • Nutritional deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin D
  • NutrEval by Genova Diagnostics Labs for malabsorption, gut dysbiosis, cellular energy, mitochondrial metabolism, neurotransmitter metabolism, vitamin deficiencies, toxin exposure and detoxification need
  • Organic Acid Test (OAT) for yeast overgrowth, other microbial infections and oxalates
  • Inflammation markers such as C-Reactive Protein (CRP)
  • Fasting blood sugar and insulin levels
  • Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA)

Have Your Child Tested for PANS/PANDAS

Pathogenic infections and environmental offenders can cross the blood-brain barrier and cause neurological symptoms known collectively as PANS/PANDAS. However, not many practitioners know how to test for and treat these conditions. Common tests are:

  • Serum Anti-Streptolysin O (ASO) titer
  • Serum Anti-Streptococcal DNase B (ASDB) titer
  • Cunningham panel
  • Lyme disease and Lyme co-infections
  • Specific viruses, especially herpetic viruses
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection
  • Heavy metals and other toxins
  • Mold

Use Digestive Aids with your Practitioner's Guidance

  • Betaine hydrochloric acid
  • Digestive enzymes with DPP-IV for gluten and casein intolerances
  • Proteolytic enzymes
  • BiCarb
  • Bromelain
  • Papaya

Use Supplements with Your Practitioner's Guidance

Always work with your practitioner to determine the brand, type and dosage of supplements. Common supplements include the following:

  • Cod liver oil
  • Probiotics
  • Vitamin D3
  • Methylated B complex vitamins
  • GABA, especially PharmaGABA
  • N-acetylcysteine (NAC)
  • Magnesium, zinc, selenium, iodine and other minerals
  • Others

Help Your Child Detoxify

  • Make sure your child is pooping every day. Learn more about how to clear up constipation and diarrhea.
  • Have your child exercise or move every day. Sweating carries toxins out of the body.
  • See a homotoxicologist, naturopath or homeopath for drainage remedies and detoxification aids.
  • Optimize blood sugar to allow the liver to spend more time detoxing rather than processing sugar.
  • Ionic foot baths can help detox unwanted pathogens and are easy to do with children.
  • Infared saunas can detox heavy metals through the skin by sweating. However, this form of detoxification may not be suitable for young children who lack the ability to sweat.
  • Epsom salt baths add sulfur transdermally to help with detox.

Integrate Retained Primitive Reflexes

Most, if not all, children with neurodevelopmental disorders including learning disabilities, have retained primitive reflexes.

Find a therapist that is trained in integrating primitive reflexes, which can cause imbalances in the way your child's brain performs.

See a Chiropractic Neurologist

Chiropractic neurology is patient focused and utilizes the latest assessment techniques to create an individualized protocol to rehabilitate the central nervous system and develop neuroplasticity (changes in the brain) when addressing neurological conditions.

Children with developmental delays, cognitive issues and deficits have improper communication between the right and left sides of the brain.

See a Behavioral/Developmental Optometrist

A developmental optometrist can check for convergence and tracking problems with your child's vision. He or she can correct these issues with vision therapy, lens and prisms. Doing so can improve hand-eye coordination and school performance.

See a Craniosacral Practitioner

Craniosacral therapy can reestablish central nervous system functioning. These practitioners use approaches rich in vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile input and may also do oral motor therapy.

See a Neurofeedback Practitioner

Neurofeedback is approved as a level-one intervention by the American Academy of Pediatrics for ADD and ADHD, which are learning disabilities.

Even if your child doesn't have ADD or ADHD, they may still benefit from neurofeedback.

Find a practitioner that can perform a QEEG (quantitative electroencephalograph) brain map first so you can understand how your child's brain works.

See a Sensory-Integration Occupational Therapist

These occupational therapists address a variety of sensory issues with a child using hands-on equipment. This type of therapy calms down the nervous system to help integrate the senses and retained reflexes.

See a Chiropractor

A chiropractor can perform spinal cord adjustments, which can improve communication in the nervous system.

See an Auditory Therapist

Many children with learning disabilities have auditory processing problems that may be causing problems with focus and concentration.

An auditory therapist can devise a listening program that is specific to your child's needs. These programs can retrain the brain, calm down the nervous system and reduce sound sensitivities.

Find a Brain Gym Practitioner

A Brain Gym practitioner can have your child do exercises for sensorimotor coordination, self-calming and self-management.

Work with a Health Coach

Our Epidemic Answers health coaches are trained to understand the root causes of your child's chronic health condition.

They provide hands-on helping with the practical matters of healing such as cooking healthy foods, removing toxins from the household and helping you work more efficiently with your practitioner.

See an Acupuncturist

Acupuncture can help lower stress and anxiety associated with sensory processing. It can also help with blood-sugar and hormonal regulation.

See a NAET or BioSET Practitioner

Children with chronic health conditions typically also have food allergies and/or food sensitivities and intolerances.

NAET (Namudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique) and BioSET are two non-invasive methods of allergy elimination.

Use Sensory Therapies and Tools

Still Looking for Answers?

Visit the Epidemic Answers Practitioner Directory to find a practitioner near you.

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