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