Acupuncture & Speech Disorders in Children – Part 1

Recently, I was honored to be featured as a guest writer for a fantastic blog written about a young boy’s journey with apraxia http://jakes-journey-apraxia.com. Jake’s blog is a great resource for mom’s with children on the same path.

Here is Part 1 – stay tuned for Part 2!

Chinese medicine is a complete system of medicine offering treatment options for just about any ailment that the body may present with. However, many people are not aware of what Chinese medicine can treat, so there are many disorders that we have the ability to treat but rarely see come into our office. Speech disorders are one of them. Although they were without a modern diagnosis, speech disorders were not absent from ancient society and treatments were developed for them. Chinese medicine, including acupuncture, herbal medicine and nutrition is a beneficial treatment option for those suffering from speech disorders such as apraxia.

When assessing any patient, an acupuncturist will acknowledge the chief complaint and then continue to examine and inquire each independent system in the body. This is because in Chinese Medicine, the systems are not separate. The digestion, the muscles and bones, urination, sleep, emotions, etc. all influence one another. It is quite difficult to deny this to be true when we think that each cell in our body is connected. If you were to hold hands in a circle and one person falls, does the rest of the group not feel even the slightest jolt or movement? Of course, they do. This is why we must consider each aspect of the body before jumping to any conclusions.

For disorders manifesting in the voice, an acupuncturist will pay very close attention to the energetics of the heart and the lungs. This is not to say that if there is an issue with the voice that one should have their lungs listened to or their heart examined. The Chinese organs are viewed slightly differently and have some additional “functions” due to their energetic capability.

Let’s look at the lungs first. Giovanni Maciocia paraphrases the Chinese classical relationship of the lungs and the voice in his book The Foundations of Chinese Medicine:

The strength, tone and clarity of the voice are all dependent on the Lungs. When the Lungs are healthy they are compared to a bell, giving off a clear ringing sound, which is the voice. If the Lungs are weak, the voice may be low…

Macocia p 141

Therefore, it is important to address the lung energy whenever correcting a problem with the voice. Many times, a weakness in an organ shows up in different places in the body. This is why for someone who may be suffering from loss of voice, weak voice, or more specifically, apraxia, there may also be associated lung disorders such as asthma, frequency to catch colds, chronic sinus infections & upper respiratory tract infections

The lungs have a very close relationship with the digestive system as well. In Chinese medicine, this has much to do with their anatomical location. Therefore, if the digestive system is weak, it can affect the lungs so we may see associated food allergies, constipation or other digestive trouble.

The next factor would be to consider the energetics of the heart. The heart can effect the speech is a variety of ways. While the clinical theory behind the heart energetics can be quite difficult to grasp, we can relate to “being speechless” when your heart takes an emotional hit – be it good or bad. For some, this state of being speechless is pathological. In order to assess the origin of the speech disorder, associated questions would be asked about the person to see if they are presenting with more heart related symptoms or more lung related symptoms. To give an example, heart related aphasia and apraxia is that which is generally seen in Alzheimer’s patients.

When treating speech disorders in children, it is important to first consider any energetic deficiency or energetic developmental delay and treat it with acupuncture, nutrition and herbs. In my treatment, I also work with the spine to ensure that blood is flowing properly and the nerves are being nourished as they develop. For this, I use acupuncture needles, massage and electric stimulation on the surface of the skin along the sides of the spine.

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