Jake's Journey with Apraxia

And the Friends We Met Along the Way

Every year about this time, the pastures surrounding my home start looking like this …

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While the bright yellow ragweed flowers are pretty at a glance, they cause a lot problems to people with seasonal allergies. This time of year Jake has a chronic stuffy nose and occasional, light wheezing if he is outdoors for an extended amount of time.

Most people – me included – used to look at those flowers and think one thing only … allergies. But, as time went on during this 2013 ragweed season, a word I hadn’t thought about in a while popped back into my mind … inflammation.

A few weeks into September, it dawned on me that I was asking Jake to repeat what he was saying a lot more than usual. About 95 percent of the time now, I can understand everything he says, so it is a definite red flag if words are out of order or if the clarity of each word is off. Also, the thought-intensive sentences that he had started saying by summer’s end had tapered off.

Basically, I had started saying “What?” a lot more than “Wow!” lately.

Regression. Aren’t we past regression? Is it because he is sick and just doesn’t feel well enough to speak clearly? Are his clogged sinuses causing him to not hear as well and therefore, his speech is affected? Is it because he is no longer taking D-Hist Jr. for his seasonal allergies?

One night after a late game at the ball field, Jake was exceptionally stuffy and wheezing a bit so I gave him a steroid breathing treatment in the nebulizer. Fortunately, these episodes are few and far between now, but sometimes I am forced to go this route because it is very effective at knocking a cough/wheezing out.

While we were sitting quietly on his bedroom floor, the hum of the nebulizer spitting out the anti-inflammatory Pulmicort, I caught myself spontaneously thinking, I hate giving him this breathing treatment, but at least he’ll start talking better tomorrow.

I haven’t been faced with those thoughts in a long time, but this time last year, it was a very important piece to our puzzle.

Why? Here’s the background …

In May of 2012, a pediatric research doctor ran across my blog, contacted me, and planted the biomedical seed in my brain. It is because of her, that I became educated enough to pursue diet and supplement changes that contributed to Jake’s success.

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In November of last year, I emailed this doctor saying that Jake’s speech improved when he took a breathing treatment of Pulmicort. I asked if this was a normal response she saw in children who have apraxia.

She responded, “These allergic apraxic kids have inflammation that impacts their lungs, skin, gut, liver, brain, and other organs.” She also recommended that I put him on Singulair to block allergens from coming into his body, which would in turn reduce the inflammation and his allergic responses (eczema and asthma). Consequently, a reduction in inflammation could also possibly improve his speech.

I still have not put Jake on Singulair because I have attempted natural alternatives, but there is a part of me that wonders if one day I will be forced to put him on this med because nothing else will work and suddenly all of our problems will disappear.

Inflammation is a buzz word we all hear pretty often these days, but what exactly is it?

A sore throat, hives, a sprained ankle, are all examples of inflammation; your body’s defense system against infection and trauma. This “good” inflammation goes away once the infection is gone or the trauma has healed. So how does our body’s defense system turn against us and cause cancer, depression, diabetes, or heart disease? The full answer to that is still under investigation, but we have learned that inflammation is a smoke-signal. It is an indication that something is hurting our bodies every day without our knowledge. — Dr. Tasneem Bhatia, Summer 2013 Newsletter

Bhatia goes onto to say in this article that one of the main contributors of inflammation is the Standard American Diet, which is high in sugar, processed food, and the pro-inflammatory omega-6s.

The term inflammation is often talked about in the autism community …

Chronic inflammation – the kind most autistic kids contend with – is when the inflammation is prolonged over an extended period of time. When this happens, inflammation stops being functional and becomes dysfunctional.  — “Healing Our Autistic Children” by Dr. Julie Buckley

Consider this example cited in the book “The Autism Revolution,” by Dr. Martha Herbert:

Recently, Crystal caught a bad cold and her coughing was ruining her sleep. Dr. Carine didn’t want to put Crystal on antibiotics, so instead she prescribed a short course of prednisone, a steroid used to treat inflammatory conditions. For those five days, Nell says it was as if she had a different child. Crystal talked nonstop. She said things that no one had told her to say, which she had never done before. “It made sense. It was spontaneous. There was more eye contact, more engagement. It was like she was a part of the world,” Nell said. Unfortunately, those gains disappeared with the last of the prednisone. But both Dr. Carine and Nell got a glimpse of what Crystal’s brain can do when it’s not inflamed.

So, once I had the epiphany that inflammation was causing all of this grief, I went into instant fix-it-mode.

As I was brain storming solutions, suddenly I realized that Jake hasn’t had acupuncture since the beginning of August. I stopped once school started because he was doing so well. Acupuncture reduces inflammation.

So, last Tuesday afternoon he went back to see Ms. Jessica for a tune-up. He was so happy to see her and thoroughly enjoyed his session, which included a little bit of everything:  cupping, acupuncture, acupressure, massage, and the “tickle machine” (gentle electrical stimulation).

The next day he was back to normal … no stuffiness, clear speech, and no itching.

Based on what I have read and my own experience with my child, it is my belief that a main culprit to his issues is inflammation. I believe a healthy diet free from his food sensitivities and allergies drastically reduces inflammation and therefore, prevents his brain, skin, and lungs from having moderate to severe symptoms. When he does happen upon an allergen that I cannot control (like ragweed), I believe figuring out how to reduce the inflammation ASAP is key to his overall wellness.

As we approach cold and flu season, if your apraxic child gets sick and needs an anti-inflammatory – ibuprofen, prednisone, or a steroid breathing treatment – I ask that you pay close attention to their response. Is there any change in their speech? Has your child already experienced this side effect? Is there no response? Typically, conversations in the apraxia community focus on fish oil for its anti-inflammatory properties, but I never see this topic discussed.

I’d love to hear your input.

Disclaimer: All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or disorder.

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14 thoughts on “Inflammation and Apraxia

  1. Megan says:

    I have a 5 year old son. He’s my middle child, and we had him tested through the public school system. They told us he had an expressive language severe delay at the age of 3. We sent him to a developmental pre-school for 2 years. Now we’re seeing a private speech therapist, and she’s said he appears to have apraxia. I currently have him taking Sudafed with Pseudoephedrine in it. If I don’t, he gets congested SO much that I cannot understand his speech at all! Plus his nose dries out without the medicine until he ends up with spontaneous nosebleeds. I’m just now researching this whole change in diet thing and allergies combined with apraxia (I stumbled across your blog and have been following for a few weeks)… I’m giving him fish oil daily. We’ll see how it goes. Thanks for your post. VERY interesting.

  2. tstarmom says:

    Megan – Thanks for introducing yourself and sharing your story. It’s nice to know that someone else has had a similar experience. I’m ready for the grass and ragweed to die for the winter! 🙂 Email if you have any questions about diet/supplements/testing. I’d be happy to share the steps we took.

  3. naomi says:

    I read about inflammation for autistic children and several mothers have reported positive affects when ibuprofen was given. It’ll be interesting to see if I see any of the changes next time I give my son ibuprofen.

    It’s great that Jake tolerates acupuncture. My grandmother used to do acupuncture for family and friends when I was growing up in Japan. I agree with Dr.Bhatia about standard American diet. It’s convenient and tasty, but probably not the healthiest. It’s hard to get kids to eat healthy though…. especially for picky eater like my son.

    It’s beautiful time of the year in GA. Hopefully as time goes on, we don’t have to think too much about allergy/inflammation when we are outside. (My son has seasonal allergy as well)

  4. tstarmom says:

    Hi Naomi – That is so cool that your grandmother used to do acupuncture! I have told my husband that one day I would like to go back to school to learn it, even if I only help friends and family with it. (He thinks I can be a little over the top sometimes). 🙂 Speaking of my hubby, he is from Japan also! His mom is Japanese and his father is American. He moved back to the U.S. when he was young though. It’s funny b/c I’ve had to convince him about the benefits of acupuncture instead of the other way around. If he would have grown up seeing it, I’m sure he wouldn’t think twice.

    Yes, gorgeous time of the year here (and great temps!), but just ready for this grass to go dormant! I need some time to figure out what type of natural anti-inflammatory to try on Jake. Really struggling finding a quercetin that doesn’t have bromelein (pineapple – allergy) in it. Or, one that isn’t produced in mixed facilities (can’t use it if it’s been made on the same lines as fish oil). What do you do for your son’s seasonal allergies?

    1. naomi says:

      I gave Aaron Claritin per Pediatrician’s recommendation. I really didn’t like giving him Claritin every day (for about 2-3 weeks), but after seeing his face all swollen up and afraid he may have trouble breathing, I had to do it. I need to do more research to see if there is something more natural that he can tolerate. With the diet and supplements, I’m hoping his immune system will get stronger and able to get by allergy season without medicine. Right now, any little things could irritate him.

      I had no idea your husband was also from Japan! Too funny you are the one who had to convince him about benefits of acupuncture.

    2. Alisha says:

      Just a thought. You can probably investigate on freeze dried stinging nettles. It is one of the ingredients in dhist jr

  5. Carrie Chauhan says:

    I can tell a difference when my son is on his gluten free dairy free diet, and when he’s not; that’s related to inflammation as well. As an acupuncturist and herbalist, I give my son herbal remedies for inflammation (Gaia’s Melissa Supreme, now known as Daily Focus is awesome. Gaia also has a Sniffle Support product that keeps inflammation and allergies down.) So, I, too, am avoiding prescription drugs for my son. My son’s pediatrician is completely ignoring all this–we hear nothing from him about the apraxia. All that i am doing I do because of our speech therapist and my knowledge as an alternative medicine practitioner. I wish there was more support!

    1. Carrie, The gluten and casein connection in regards to apraxia is so interesting to me. I would love to start a non-profit to fund clinical trials in this area. I too find it so frustrating that there is zero support in this area and no one willing to fund testing. I am in such an interesting position at this point b/c I have a child (7) “cured” from apraxia, excelling in 1st grade, and I’m apprehensive to add the gluten and casein back. I tried to add milk back a couple of months ago, but some weird sensory things started happening. (Chewing on shirt, hanging upside down a lot, and 1 hysterical laughing spell for no reason, which was almost seizure like. Hard to explain if you’ve never experienced it, but definitely a scary thing). Have you had an allergy blood test done to see if your child has high IgE levels for gluten? Just curious b/c most of the kids I run across do. And I love that your an acupuncturist! Did you see the posts my acupuncturist wrote for the blog a year or two ago? Also, thanks for the product recommendations. We wouldn’t be where we are today without the help from other mothers.

      1. Hi Tori! Let’s get in touch 🙂 My husband is an engineer and works in research, and we have been talking about starting with a review of all the studies out there, to see exactly where apraxia is on research. We, too, are VERY interested in this! There is also potential to get grants for research. I’ve really been looking into the right herbal and food prescriptions for my son to help heal his inflammation and gut lining, using Chinese medicine and Ayurveda. I didn’t do formal tests yet because he’s already off of those foods, and to accurately test, he needs to be on them consistently, so I’m putting it off. I had a colleague tell me that, really, seeing the difference is the most reliable test there is.

        As for adding it back in later, I do know that eventually we can handle allergies better, especially caseins, but I’m still myself struggling with “is this forever” or “just for a while”? I’m taking an additional nutrition class at the moment, a combination of western scientific nutrition paired with what we know from complementary and alternative systems like Chinese and Ayurvedic systems, to see what I can figure out!

      2. Interesting! Yes, I would love to talk to your more also. What is your email?

      3. Sorry! Holiday craziness 🙂 It’s yogawithcarrie@yahoo.com. My husband’s been looking at a lot of research and not really finding studies that have been carried out well. So it IS interesting, we are planning on going to the CASANA conference next summer.

  6. Gretel Uhl says:

    I am checking out CBD oil for a friend who has apraxia. Pls. check this out by contacting a medical marijuana doctor in your state.

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