Autism and Diet

In an effort to do everything possible to help their children, many parents continually seek new treatments. Some treatments are developed by reputable therapists or by parents of a child with ASD.

Although an unproven treatment may help one child, it may not prove beneficial to another. To be accepted as a proven treatment, the treatment should undergo clinical trials, preferably randomized, double-blind trials, that would allow for a comparison between treatment and no treatment.

Following are some of the interventions that have been reported to have been helpful to some children but whose efficacy or safety has not been proven.

Dietary interventions are based on the idea that 1) food allergies cause symptoms of autism, and 2) an insufficiency of a specific vitamin or mineral may cause some autistic symptoms. If parents decide to try for a given period of time a special diet, they should be sure that the child's nutritional status is measured carefully.

A diet that some parents have found was helpful to their autistic child is a gluten-free, casein-free diet. Gluten is a casein-like substance that is found in the seeds of various cereal plants-wheat, oat, rye, and barley. Casein is the principal protein in milk. Since gluten and milk are found in many of the foods we eat, following a gluten-free, casein-free diet is difficult.

Source: NIMH

Autism and Gluten-Free
Casein-Free Diet

There is now clinical research which supports the use of dietary interventions. Many parents and physicians report children on the autism spectrum make significant progress on the GFCF diet due to food allergies and sensitivities to wheat, oats, barley, rye and a rather long list of their derivatives i.e. malt, flavoring and some fillers found in vitamins and medication. Gluten is found in nearly all foods and many non-food products.

We are advised by a DAN! practitioner to begin first by eliminating milk and all diary products from our loved one's diet. Other alternatives are readily available at local supermarkets and health food stores, i.e. rice, potato, soy, goat's milk, diary-free cheese, and ice cream. We are told to make a list of all the foods he eats and find replacements for them.

After a few weeks off of milk products, replace all the foods he will usually eat with GFCF alternatives. GFCF meals may be prepared at home from scratch with GFCF recipes. Or GFCF products may be purchased at specialty order stores and most local health food stores, since individuals with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten.

Autism and Diet Articles

Autism and GI Problems

by Jody Goddard

Autism and GFCF Diet Resources

Gluten-Free/Casein-Free Diet

For more information on how to implement and why:

Autism Network for Dietary Intervention (ANDI)
PO Box 17711
Rochester, NY 14617-0711
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Lisa Lewis and Karen Seroussi provide help and support for families using a Gluten & Casein Free Diet in the treatment of autism and related developmental disabilities.

New Diets

Gluten & Casein Free Recipes

Autism Diet

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Autism Diet provides information, resources and tips on the gluten/casein free diet from professionals at the University of Florida.

Other Special Autism Diets or
Dietary Interventions

Feingold Diet
The FeingoldĀ® Association of the United States
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The Feingold Program is based upon an elimination diet composed of two Stages. Stage One is that initial period during which foods and beverages containing artificial colors, flavorings, preservatives and natural salicylates are avoided.

Ketogenic Diet (The Epilepsy Diet)
Packard Children's Hospital
Stanford University Medical Center

A high fat, low protein, low carbohydrate foods diet used to control seizures.

Sara's Diet
Max Desorgher, World Community Autism Program
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The Sara's Diet program is basically the removal of lutein, soy protein, food colorings including annatto and beta-carotene. The removal of major sources of gluten and casein is preferable but not essential in many cases. This is determined on a case by case basis.

SCD Diet or Special Carbohydrate Diet

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is a Grain-Free, Lactose-Free, Sugar-Free diet in order to heal the intestinal tract and to rid it of bacterial and fungal overgrowth. A modified version of the adult diet is proving to be a very successful dietary intervention in treating many autistic children and leading them back to a life of normalcy. Website provides information on how to start the SCD introduction Diet, list of step-by-step foods to include in your diet, and answers the question, what to feed my child.

SCD Diet - Legal / Illegal List of Foods

Autism and Diet Books

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