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Autism and diet – what’s the connection?

Posted on August 1st, 2007 by Alison Read 2 Comments - Add Your Own »

gfcfdietblue1.jpgI find the possible connection between autism and diet fascinating. Because of my own experience with celiac disease, I know what food can do to one’s (my) brain. Many parents, researchers and doctors report that children with autism have shown mild to dramatic improvements in speech and/or behavior after gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley & rye) and casein (a protein found in milk) were removed from their diets.

Autistic behaviors can include:

  • Poorly developed or delayed language skills, or speech pattern abnormalities
  • Failure to follow directions or respond to own name
  • Lack of need for socialization, prefers to play alone, seems to be in own world
  • Inability to make friends, not interested in other children
  • Repetitive or odd body movement patterns (hand-flapping, rocking)
  • Ritualistic behavior; child gets “stuck” doing the same thing over and over
  • Lack of, or poor, eye contact

According to studies, autistic children appear to have more gastrointestinal symptoms than children without autism, and that these problems improved on the diet. Researchers found that these children have permeable intestinal tracts (often referred to as ‘leaky gut’), and cannot properly digest gluten and casein proteins. The proteins enter the bloodstream before they are fully broken down and act like morphine in the body. These drug-like substances alter the person’s behavior, perceptions, and responses to his environment, thus causing behaviors which have been classified as autism.

The medical community is still researching the effectiveness of the gluten-free, casein-free diet in the treatment of autism, but there are many stories from parents who see the changes occur in their children. While this dietary treatment may not be effective for all autistic children, it certainly seems like a good idea to try the gfcf diet. Whether you have a personal experience with autism or not, you won’t believe these incredible diet success stories written by parents of autistic children.

For more information on autism and diet, visit these website pages:

There are lots of other websites and blogs dedicated to the topic of autism, as it is a growing problem. Feel free to add a comment with other sites you recommend.

Related reading: Gluten Affects Learning and Behavior

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  1. You bet… I have watched the signs of autism appear in my son within 6 weeks of the onset of chronic intestinal problems. Diagnosed with ” leaky gut ” re: malabsorption.
    I think my doc might have been on the right trac..
    metro for 5 days ( anti-fungal antibiotic ) maybe a buildup of candida yeast ???
    Glucolax for 3 days …(Laxative)
    Even though he had 6 watery stools a day HE WAS CONSTIPATED …… and add back in a little good bacteria Baby Flora 1/4 teaspoon twice a day.
    Removed all Dairy…
    My son has quit walking on his toes, quit covering his ears… bathtime is a little bit easier and within the last 3 days I have heard 4 new words come out of a little boy that is 26 months and had a 6 word vocab.
    There is not an individual that can tell me that nutrition does not play a roll. I have seen DRASTIC changes adding the baby flora and removing the dairy.

    The doc said it was caused by an ” INFECTION ” that settled in the intestines, and not a recent infection he said this is damage caused by the infection. Hmmmm makes me wonder if it wasn’t the one injected as a vaccination…

    Good luck to all

  2. Lisa,
    Thanks for sharing and congratulations on the changes you have seen in your son. Keep us posted on any more progress!

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