Lyme Disease and Language Disorder
Did you know that Lyme Disease can be the underlying cause for language impairments, cognitive delays, auditory processing deficits and even autism?
Consider the case of Mary Hendricks, who at the age of 2 years, lost both her language and ability for eye contact. According to a September 27, 2011 article at the Fox 40 News website (other news outlets as well), Mary suffered from digestive disorders and seemed to be in pain every day. When she was 19, her parents took her to an autism specialist, who ordered a Lyme test, and it came back positive. Since Mary's mother had numerous health conditions too, Dr. Lynn Mielkev, the specialist, suspected that Mary contracted Lyme disease in utero and sure enough, her mother Tina also tested positive for Lyme disease. According to this article, Mary's status is improving and, for the first time in years, her parents hear her laugh and giggle. Dr. Mielkev noted that in patients that have less severe cases of autism, their autistic symptoms may completely disappear.
According to lymefight.info, "Cognitive problems can come and go throughout the day. Concentration and memory problems can make math especially difficult. Slowed thinking can make it difficult to comprehend oral and written language. A child with Lyme can suddenly not recognize familiar places and can get lost in the school. The disease can cause learning disabilities and low IQ scores. Word, number and letter reversals, in written and oral speech (dyslexia), are common. Sometimes IQ scores jump after a child begins antibiotic treatment. Children with autistic or psychiatric symptoms may talk and act normal [sic] when on antibiotics."
Unfortunately, in some later diagnosed cases, the symptoms do not always disappear once antibiotic treatment is started. In fact, some children's symptoms continue to worsen.
It is emphasized in the literature that young children may not be able to express what feels wrong. These children frequently complain of vague pains and exhibit a lack of energy. They have difficulty focusing in school and engaging with others, leading to a feeling of isolation. Thus, they also may not give their all in school, either academically or socially. Parents often think they are malingering because there are no real symptoms of illness. It is important that any child who is exhibiting these kinds of recurring aches and pains, who appears to be having difficulty focusing, or who may be regressing developmentally, be tested for Lyme disease.