This blog is a way of sharing the information and resources that have helped me to recover my son Roo from an Autism Spectrum Disorder. What I have learned is to view our symptoms as the results of underlying biological cause, which can be identified and healed. I say "our symptoms" because I also have a neuro-immune disorder called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

And, of course, I am not a doctor (although I have been known to impersonate one while doing imaginative play with my son)- this is just our story and information that has been helpful or interesting to us. I hope it is helpful and interesting to you!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

SPEAK supplement from NourishLife

Thus far I haven't been blogging about specific supplements or specific brands, in part because we have used so many different ones over the years.  We began giving Roo omega-3 fatty acids early on and he did very well with them right away.  At the time we gave him one called Coromega mostly because it was easy to give (it comes in a small packet as an orange-flavored pudding that has no "fishy" taste).  Coromega was easy to give, convenient, and we were able to mix other supplements into it.  However as our dietary intervention evolved it no longer became feasible to give (I'm not sure but I think it contained sugar).  EFAs in this form were so effective that I would joke that there was a word in every packet.

We continued Roo on standard fish oil, but in the summer of 2009 I decided to begin a new combination supplement called SPEAK.  It has high levels of omega-3s, vitamin E, vitamin K2, and borage oil (an omega-6) among other things.  We saw a clear and nearly immediate jump forward when we began SPEAK and each time we increased the dose.  When I first upped Roo's dose from one to two capsules, he ran a high fever for at least 4 days.  He had barely had any fever since his regression which we have taken as a sign of a weak immune response.  Every time he has spiked a fever he has had remarkable progress which is common for "viral kids" which we know Roo is.  After this prolonged fever he emerged changed- something had definitely been killed off that was holding him back.  For this reason I believe that SPEAK has immunologic activity.

I eventually did decide to take Roo off of SPEAK and try to recreate the blend myself as it is costly.  He did alright with this although I'm not sure I saved any money and he did not lap forward as he had with SPEAK.  In December of 2010 I put him back on SPEAK and once again he responded immediately.  We saw a big jump in asking questions, especially abstract ones and "wh" questions.  Within one month his articulation had improved dramatically and he was able to talk in his classes on topic and intelligibly.  He is now, as of the spring of 2011, taking 3 capsules per day and he is talking non-stop.  His toys are having intelligible conversations during play, and his imaginative play has improved dramatically.  He built a lego "space station" about 4 weeks ago and has kept up an ongoing game with it since then.

Each two capsules of SPEAK contains:
725 mg of EPA
275 mg of DHA
60 mg of GLA
500 I.U. of alpha d-tocopherol (a form of vitamin E)
200 mg of gamma tocopherol (another form of vitamin E)
2 mg of vitamin K1
300 mcg of vitamin K2

To learn more about SPEAK go here.  They have an introductory offer where you can get two boxes for the price of one.

I think that the vitamin K2 may be one of the most important components for Roo.  K2 is produced by good flora in the gut and therefor is probably low in anyone with gut damage and dysbiosis.  K2 can be found in pasture butter (butter made from the milk of cows that were eating growing green grass) and fermented foods.  K2 seems to do many things in the body, but many of them seem to relate to how calcium is used and absorbed.  K2 seems to help the calcium be put in the right places and not in the wrong places.  I have wondered if K2 helps to address high histamine because calcium draws histamine out of tissues and into the bloodstream where it can be neutralized or excreted.  Perhaps low K2 keeps calcium from being available for this function? There is also evidence that K2 helps reduce oxalate problems, most likely by shutting down endogenous production of oxalate in the liver as a byproduct of metabolism.  I plan to research this theory further and do a post about it.

Vitamin E has also been known to be an effective treatment for oral dyspraxia for quite a while.  Roo has not been diagnosed with dyspraxia, but speech has been one of the hardest things for him to develop so I do think it is relevant to him at some level.  Research published in 2009 found that vitamin E supplementation was an effective  treatment for a subset of children with verbal dyspraxia.  The researchers note that vitamin E deficiency is known to create a constellation of symptoms matching those common in kids with oral dyspraxia including speech difficulties, sensory processing challenges, and abnormal pain sensations.

The Linus Pauling Institute has more information on vitamin E here.  It seems that the primary role of vitamin E is to protect the fats in cell membranes from damage by oxidation, which leads to inflammation.  Oxidative stress and inflammation are central biological features of people with autism (and other neurological issues) so it makes intuitive sense that it would help.  Additionally, vitamin E helps LDL to transport cholesterol from the liver to tissues in the body were it is needed.  Cholesterol is necessary for hormone production and repair of tissues (among other things) which may be another way in which it helps with speech.  Vitamin E has also been found to increase vasodilation which may lead to better blood flow to the brain (a common issue in autism) as well as aiding in the function of certain immune and inflammatory cells.