A Case of Speech Concerns and Possible Learning Differences
Taylor, a charming and very bright-eyed 8-year-old boy, was brought to see me in April of 2017 for some concerns with his speech development, possible learning difficulties and poor memory. His speech was first assessed when he 3 years old as his mother had concerns about fluency and articulation.
Taylor has had weekly speech therapy but his mother is still a bit concerned. I did notice that he articulation was slightly unclear and halting and that he seemed to space out a bit when speaking
He also struggles a bit with writing and presses too hard with the pencil.
His mother reported that Taylor's father had the exact same problems and was diagnosed with dysgraphia and dyslexia. The paternal grandfather also has this condition and Taylor's half-siblings have similar problems as well. Taylor's mother feels that there is a strong family predisposition and wants to be pro-active to mitigate this tendency.
Taylor also has some skin eruptions on the back of his upper arms, covering almost the whole are. It looks like a type of eczema.
Crystals and the Colour Blue
I ask him about his interests and he tells me that he loves to do puzzles and also likes to play chess online. Apparently he is very good at chess.
"I also love crystals. They are shiny. My birth stone is the sapphire, it is blue. I love the colour blue. My spirit animal is the blue water rat. If someone gives me a gift, it's usually blue because people know I love that colour."
"What if you could be an animal?"
"I'd be a hawk or fish or a flying squirrel. We are at the top of the food chain. We eat every animal. If I was a hawk I could fly super high and be free as air. Some fish can go places as well. Fish have seen stuff we haven't seen - hidden in the ocean. They kind of see everything."
"He also really likes art and is excellent at drawing," his mother added. I asked if he would bring in some of his drawings for me. I usually ask children to bring a few drawings as they often provide useful clues about the child.
He brought several amazing drawings to our next visit, please see below. I have permission from mother and son to share these drawings here.
Love of Fish
"He loves fish", Tayler's mother added. "His first word was 'fish'. He has tons of ocean books and books on sea creatures. He also like kayaking. He grew up on the ocean. His Dad is a natural fisherman and loves the ocean as well."
"He is also very tuned in to spiritual matters. He has a knowing and weird things have happened with him, co-incidences and experiences with animals. His father is similar, he has a magical quality to him, it's what attracted me to him."
I noticed that Taylor had a special quality, not only was he adorable and charming but he exuded a kind of wisdom and tranquility reminiscent of a spiritual master or healer. A kind of otherworldly quality.
A Gentle Spirit
I saw his mother alone at the second appointment so she could share more freely and also talk about her pregnancy and birth with Taylor.
"His birth was long and hard labour lasted for 20 hours. When Taylor was little he told me that he he wished he could have stayed in utero for longer. He said he wanted to stay in there because he could swim. He is a great natural swimmer."
"I got pregnant when I saw big leather-backed turtles come to the beach to lay their eggs."
"I had a vision of a man walking into the room when I was pregnant. He looked like my cousin and had a very gentle spirit. He came and put his hand on my chest and I felt as if he was this old friend, who had come back to visit me and be my companion."
"His favorite food is fish, he loves to eat sushi, especially raw octopus. The more tentacles the better! He loves sashimi as well. His Dad would boil up whole fish, eyeballs floating, bones, skin, he'd eat it all. He also really loves fruit, especially grapefruit, lemons and limes. He can suck on them like on an orange. Taylor prefers green apples over red ones."
"He is fascinated with sharks and sea life as well as rocks. He picks up rocks everywhere and later slips them into someone's pocket or hand. He may give a rock or crystal to a stranger, like someone delivering pizza."
"His self-confidence is wavering, I think due to the difficulties at school. He gives up too easily with schoolwork. He does not have a lot of perseverance. Also, he's told me that he feels the need to give away his food or toys so other kids are his friends. That is concerning to me. I feel as if he needs help coming into himself."
The Plot Thickens
At this point I was not yet sure of a remedy, but thought that perhaps a sea or fish remedy might be indicated. I still needed more information. It came in the form of an email: "Taylor says he has a recurrent nightmare where me and his Dad are sitting at a restaurant in the Caribbean and an evil mermaid puts a spell on us and his job is to kill the mermaid underwater so that we are freed from the spell. But the mermaid is powerful. He has had this dream for many years."
I asked for another interview with Taylor to get more information on this dream, which was very peculiar. I also asked him to draw me a picture of it, see below.
The Evil Mermaid
"The evil mermaid is using mind control with rays coming from her eyes. Those rays go into your eyes so they see different things, so they get confused. My parents are going to make food and think that the kitchen was over there, but then it turns out that it was the ballroom." The picture was very described and he told me that the story took place in a shop floating on water in a lake surrounded by a forest.
"They also do weird things while they are under her spell, for example they dress up as weird things."
"How do you fight the mermaid?"
"First I try to fish her out of the water with a fishing rod. Then when that doesn't work I put dolls by the edge of the water so she'll try and hypnotize them instead of my parents. I'll also go into the water to catch her. I have to fight her and grab her and throw her onto the land. Finally I break the hypnotic spell and Mom and Dad are freed."
"What does the mermaid look like?"
"She looks like a mermaid, she is green and taller than me. The only thing I know about mermaids is that they eat humans."
"How do you feel in your dream while you are fighting her?"
"Sick to my stomach. I just don't feel well, not 100%."
He explains that he has had this dream every week since he was born. He has talked to his father about it quite a bit and they have discussed different strategies to deal with the mermaid in the dream, to try and change the dream while dreaming it.
I wondered if he had watched movies with mermaids, which may have made an impression.
"I like the Perci Jackson movies. One was about Medusa, she is half human and half serpent. She took them into the underworld. Perci's father had power over water, he was the god of the ocean."
In the meantime I had researched a few fish remedies that could be of interest, including one made from the Blue Tang fish, also known as doctor or surgeon fish. I read that they are not good to eat as they are considered venomous and also concentrate a toxin from algae that has neurotoxic effects on humans.
I mentioned this to Taylor's mother and she said that she thought his father may have eaten that fish. Just to make sure we called him up right there and then and sure enough he told with a big smile, standing at the beautiful blue ocean that he had caught and eaten them many times. Hmm.
Blue Tang Proving
It was looking more and more as if Blue Tang could be a candidate to help Taylor. He had a fascination for fish, loved to eat and draw them, loved bright blue, had memory and speech issues and a recurrent dream of an evil mermaid who used her eyes to hypnotize his parents.
The Blue Tang fish is known to be venomous. It also accumulates Ciguatera toxin from algae. Ciguatera can cause neurological symptoms, including dizziness and vertigo, as well as hallucinations. The fish is bright blue in colour and the character Dory in Finding Nemo and Finding Dory has a short-term memory problem. Just a fluke? Maybe not.
Next I carefully read the proving of the Blue Tang fish. You can read it here yourself if you like.
Blue Tang fish, Paracanthurus hepatus, 200CH, twice a week for 4 weeks, May 31/17. I had to order the remedy from Switzerland, never used it before.
Follow-up one month later - no more mermaid dreams!
He is no longer dreaming about the evil mermaid and is sleeping much better.
"I feel like I just go to sleep and a second later I wake up. Before, it felt like it was 5 weeks before I woke up."
"He's definitely had an academic surge," his mother reported. "His teacher said that he got really involved in a debate and a project on astronomy, to her it was significant. She also said that Taylor was more focused, more engaged and more independent. I had not told her about the treatment."
"And at home he is doing homework every day with me. He also said he felt more patient."
We seemed to be on the right track, the mermaid dreams stopped and he was sleeping better and apparently his focus and engagement had improved as well.
I asked them to continue the remedy for another month.
Two months after beginning treatment - Memory is worse
I received an email from the mother describing that Taylor's short term memory and spaciness had gotten much worse lately and that he felt it was the medicine.
This was likely the beginning of a proving. Homeopathic remedies give the body more of the energy it is already creating to heal itself, so an overdose, so to speak, can increase the original symptoms. I asked them to stop giving the remedy and to wait.
Seven months after beginning treatment
The mother is bringing Taylor in because of concerns regarding the eczema on the back of his arms. There are also some patched on his cheeks. His skin is always worse in the winter.
His focus is not as good lately. No more mermaid dreams, but he is reporting some new dreams:
"I dream about Minecraft but I am in the dream. If I die, that's it. I also dream about monsters that spawn at nighttime as well as during the day. In Minecraft the monsters only spawn at night but in my dreams they also spawn at daytime and they can carry torches which don't burn them, but if they touch you with with them you can catch on fire."
"I also dream of fighting mobs with my friends, but we can't stop them from coming. I also dreams about deep dark caves, I've seen those on Youtube when I googled 'sea monsters'." He spoke some more about sea monsters and his interest in them, including the Kraken, Hydras and the Loch Ness monster.
"The teacher is complaining about lack of focus lately too," his mother added.
Assessment and Plan:
It looks as if he needs another dose of Blue Tang as his focus is worse again and his skin has flared up. I also recommended extra vitamin D, zinc and some evening primrose oil.
Amethyst, Taylor's favorite stone, note the colour similarity to the Blue Tang fish
The case is still new and we have not had enough follow-up time to see how the remedy will affect his focus and learning, however, there were some hopeful signs after taking the remedy.
I mostly published it to show colleagues and potential patients some of the thought process involved in homeopathic prescribing. It is a very detailed process which looks at many different types of information. When working with children, drawings can be very useful as this case illustrates. Taylor is a great artist and was able to clearly draw a recurrent dream he had, which helped to solve the case.
There are also numerous ways to analyze a case. I did not repertorize this particular case and I don't think repertorization would have helped that much anyway.
Occasionally, as in this case, all the pieces somehow magically line up - a love for fish, wonderful drawing of fish, desire to eat fish, a love of the colour blue, favorite stone being amethyst, memory and focus problem with spaciness and a powerful recurring dream all added up.
The remedy had an immediate effect on the dreams, sleep and focus. It will be great to follow this young man, who is quite magical and interesting, to see how things will unfold.
By Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH, Naturopathic Physician and Classical Homeopath
Questions? I offer a free 15-20 minute consultation. Call 250-590-5828 or book a convenient time online.
Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH is a naturopathic doctor with a special interest in developmental and behavioural disorders. Cases are all from her practice, names have been changed, they were published with permission and are intended for education only.
Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH, Naturopathic Physician
West Sooke, BC, Canada
Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10-6 and alternating Saturdays from 10-4