Did you know that supplements can make a big difference in helping with speech in autism?
Many parents look forward to when their baby develops speech, when they can communicate with mom and dad using their words.
For those on the autism spectrum, or with neurodevelopmental delays, this tends to be lagging. I speak with concerned parents all the time who want their child to say what they want, express in words, connect with language.
There may be many reasons why speech is delayed. During my trainings at the Medical Academy of Pediatrics Special Needs (MAPS), we learn about the research regarding speech delays and what helps it.
I know you just want me to tell you, take this one pill or supplement, and you’ll see speech come on. It can be that simple, but it helps to know what's at the root of lack of speech development, so you use the right thing(s). It can get complicated really fast!
The research guides us to look at what happens within the cell. In this case we are talking about methylation. Methylation refers to a biochemical transfer of a methyl group (1 carbon atom and 3 hydrogen atoms), CH3, between different molecules in the cell.
There are about 200 or so different biochemical reactions that use methylation, including helping to turn our genes on or off, detoxification, and making neurotransmitters to make the brain function. 
If methylation isn’t working well, and it isn’t in kids with autism, the body is at a severe deficit. [2, 3] And worse, 75% of kids with autism show autoimmunity to a key brain receptor that takes in folic acid (Vitamin B9). 
Not only is helping methylation key for speech and autism behaviors, but so is helping the mitochondria, the energy producers of the cell. If the cell don't have enough energy, they don't function well, don't take in nutrients, and are just barely getting by. If you see low muscle tone, constipation, slow brain function or development, being easily tired – these are signs the mitochondria need help.
Research also shows that there are many environmental influences that get in the way of methylation and mitochondrial energy production.  Think about heavy metal exposures (mom having ‘silver' fillings or living near a factory spewing smoke), pesticides in our food, hormone mimickers in plastic bottles, plastic wrap, body care products, carcinogens in body care products and food packaging. The list goes on.
Parents of children with autism also share these metabolic issues.  I believe parents are living on the fine line between functioning and breaking down metabolically – and one huge life stressor can be the proverbial ‘camel's straw'.
But there is HOPE – and lots of it!
Vitamins for speech
Methylcobalamin, Methyl-B12, supplementation, has been shown to significantly improve intelligence, skills and maturity.[6,7] Dr. James Neubrander, fondly called the grandfather of methyl B12, has used this compound consistently in his practice since 2002. He sees a range of improvements, most notably speech.
The most absorbable form of methyl B12 is by injection, a small shot in an anesthetized area of the bottom. But many parents don't want to poke their little on with a needle many times each week!
Some kiddos are very sensitive, so go very slowly. Depending on genetics and individual biochemistry, a very small percentage of kids can become hyper with methyl B12. This isn't a bad thing, but shows it working to upregulate reactions in the body. To help calm, you can use the following:
- magnesium glycinate, aspartate, orotate, malate, citrate or taurate (or a combination of these*)
- Omega 3 fish oil (Barlean's has many flavors kids love)
- GABA (a calming neurotransmitter)
- melatonin – tablet or liposomal
- or a combination of calming compounds all in one supplement
**Always check with your health care practitioner for guidance on which supplements and how much to give. If you have any question at all, start ‘low and slow', meaning start with a tiny amount and build up daily to giving more of the compound. We can also give you guidance when you book a consultation with us.
1. Folate and methionine metabolism in autism: a systematic review, Main, et al. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 91, Issue 6, June 2010, Pages 1598–1620
2. Age-Dependent Decrease and Alternative Splicing of Methionine Synthase mRNA in Human Cerebral Cortex and an Accelerated Decrease in Autism, Muratore, et al, PLoS One, 2013 8(2):e56827
3. Metabolic endophenotype and related genotypes are associated with oxidative stress in children with autism, James, et al, Am J Med Genet Part B 141B:947–956
4. Cerebral folate receptor autoantibodies in autism spectrum disorder, Frye, et al, Mol Psychiatry. 2013 Mar; 18(3): 369–381
5. How environmental and genetic factors combine to cause autism: A redox/methylation hypothesis, Deth, et al, 2008, NeuroToxicology 29(1):190-201
6. Nakano, et al, 2005 Journal of Tokyo Women's Medical University 75(3/4):64-69
7. Effectiveness of methylcobalamin and folinic Acid treatment on adaptive behavior in children with autistic disorder is related to glutathione redox status, 2013 Autism Res Treat. 2013;2013:609705