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17/Nov/2020

One of the core deficits associated with the diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (Diversity) is the complications around speech development and social communication. The term non-verbal has been the term referred to as part of the diagnostic criteria. Non-speaking would be a better term, as non-verbal would refer to an inability to be able to communicate at all, while non-speaking would refer to the inability (or degrees of ability) to use oral speech. As with everything on the spectrum of autism, the ability to speak is also presented in a spectrum, with some autistic individuals with exceptional speech development, rich vocabularies and an ability to discuss complex subjects and others who have no or limited speaking skills, for whom it is difficult to grasp the concept of words and sentences.

Speech development is a process, starting with preverbal skills and progressing through several stages to the ultimate ability to use language appropriately in social communication and communicating needs. There are 2 main areas of language, namely receptive language (understanding) and expressive language (using language). To be able to develop language, a lot of factors play a role. Let’s look at a few of the aspects that could be addressed through biomedical treatment.

1. Sensory Experience
For optimal language development, one has to use one’s sensory organs appropriately. One has to be able to see or hear. Sensory dysregulation can affect the sensory experience and have an effect on speech development. Anxiety plays a big role in sensory dysregulation, so needs to be addressed to be able to improve sensory integration. The gut microbiome is also involved in the background of sensory integration, anxiety and optimal functioning.

2. Processing
From the sensory organ(s) the information has to be processed to or communicated with the brain. From the brain the information has to be processed to execution, mostly to the mouth, as organ of speech. Methylation disorders, amongst other biochemical processes, play a role in the ability to focus/concentrate and in the processing of information.

3. Brain function
The brain has to store the information and be able to recollect the information appropriately to be able to respond by action or by communication. The classic areas involved in speech are known to be the Broca’s area, in the frontal area of the dominant hemisphere (mostly left) and the Wernicke’s area, in the back part of the temporal area, also of the dominant hemisphere. Broca’s area traditionally was seen to be involved with speech production and pronunciation, while Wernicke’s area is associated with the comprehension of written and spoken language. Without going into too much detail, one has to add that there are a host of other areas involved in speech too, including the cerebellum (small brain) and the motor cortex (governing motor skills). Inflammation in the brain, biochemical changes and genetic constitution affect expression of speech.

4. Motor skills
To be able to form words orally, the muscles of the mouth, lips, jaw, cheeks and tongue have to work together. This articulates recognisable words. One of the first signs of motor skills disorder around the mouth is when a baby is unable to breastfeed properly. I often get the history of a mom “not producing enough milk” while in actual fact the production of milk is really dependent on the stimulatin by the baby’s ability to suckle. Low motor tone, coordination difficulties and lack of endurance all play a role in the motor development around the mouth and subsequently the ability to speak.

To address speech development, one has to think holistically. All the areas of involvement need to be optimised. Some autistic children will never develop oral speech, but will develop the ability to communicate in other ways. That is also OK.


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05/Nov/2020

PANS (Paediatric Acute onset Neuro-Psychiatric Syndrome) is a diagnosis associated with sudden onset OCD, tics or severe eating restrictions with at least two other associated cognitive, behavioural and neurological symptoms. PANDAS (Paediatric Auto-immune Neuro-psychiatric Disorder associated with Streptococcus) is a subgroup diagnosis of the above, but associated with a sudden onset of symptoms after an infection. The diagnosis is difficult to recognize in autistic children, as there is often an overlap of symptoms.


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18/Oct/2018

Oxidation is a perfectly normal and healthy function in the human body, but though oxidative stress is equally common and unavoidable, it has the potential to cause damage to the system and should be managed and, if possible, prevented. This becomes even more crucial for children affected by autism spectrum disorder


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13/Aug/2018

Neurodevelopmental problems can turn the life of a parent and that of the child into an ongoing trauma. Autism can be isolating because it impairs the child’s ability to communicate and, consequently, to function effectively in any social situation. This results in distress for the parent, the child, and for others involved in interactions with the sufferer.

So much is known about the restrictive symptoms of the autism spectrum (ASD), the causes of which are regarded as partly genetic, yet insufficient focus is placed on an investigation as to whether the patient can be helped by a change in diet or the avoidance of allergy-triggering elements in the wider environment. In many cases the removal of substances thought to cause allergic reactions or inflammation in a child’s system, has resulted in dramatic improvements in the severity of the ASD symptoms suffered.


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12/Jun/2018

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a fast-growing developmental disability in many countries, characterised by impaired social interaction and communication, as well as restricted and repetitive behaviour. Research into the background of autism, the etiology and associated biomedical interventions is ongoing. Treatment is often limited to targeting the behavioural challenges.


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18/Oct/2015

Autism is often referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder because it is not a single disorder but a broad spectrum of disorders that share a varied range of symptoms. Individuals have similar problems of varying degrees across social interaction, empathy and communication.


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22/Sep/2015

Facing the diagnosis of autism in your child is a stark reality many parents have to confront.  Not only does this entail meeting the challenges the various deficits will bring about, it also requires an honest look at how you will prioritise yourself going forward.


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Dr Louise Lindenberg runs an integrative medical practice in Durbanville, Cape Town. She incorporates dietary intervention, supplementation, nutrition, phytotherapy/herbal medicine, and allopathic medicine in a holistic health care environment. Her passion is working with children on the Autistic Spectrum, including Autism, PDD, ADD, ADHD and behavioural problems.

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Copyright by Dr L Lindenberg 2020. All rights reserved.