The Possible Connection Between Crawling And Speech Production…
It never ceased to amaze me how bits and pieces of this puzzle I had once only known as “autism” could come from the most unexpected places.
There was a woman in my local church, approximately age 40, whom I had recently driven home after church. She did not appear to drive herself and always seemed to be in need of a ride to and from church. Although I had wanted to stay after the service for the bible study that always followed, I agreed to give her a ride home. I would simply come back to church and sit in on the last part of the bible study.
As I drove this woman home, something I had done on a few occasions, she began to tell me more about herself. She clearly had issues with walking and talking. She walked with a very pronounced limp and her speech, although fairly good, was clearly not as fluid as it should be and she seemed to have difficulties with speaking at times. As I drove, she began to tell me her story. At the age of 5, she had been hit by a car and had been unconscious for close to 6 weeks. She had then been placed in a very intensive therapy program for close to 7 weeks because she “had to learn how to walk and talk again”. She told me that the therapist had told her mother that “she needed to make her crawl as this would help with speech development”.
“What!”… I said… “What did you say?”
“I know… it sounds crazy… I can’t see how crawling would help to make me talk”, she said, “but, that’s what they told my mother”.
“That makes perfect sense to me”, I then replied. You see, motor functions and speech production were co-located in the frontal lobe… and the cerebellum, at the back of the brain, was known to coordinate not only motor functions, but it was also believed to coordinate higher functions such as language also! Again, it appeared that my belief that co-located functions within the brain were much more inter-related than we may have ever imagined.
As I mentioned this to my sister-in-law, Christine, she stated that her son, Andrew, a boy diagnosed as having PDD – a disorder on the autism spectrum - had never really crawled. He always used to just do the “bum shuffle” as she called it. Zachary had been very, very late in crawling too. The one thing I did remember, however, was that he used to “roll over” quite a bit… so much so that my husband had often lovingly referred to him as his little “tumbleweed”.
Needless to say, this was all certainly very, very interesting to me. Could making non-verbal children who had autism do “crawling motions” much like those of a baby help stimulate language production? Crawling certainly came before speech in child development. How very, very interesting indeed!