Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Diets for Autism


If you are searching for information on the internet super highway for autism treatments, you will find information about diets.


The most popular are the anti-casein/gluten diets. Casein is a protein found in many dairy products and some hot dogs. It's getting easier and easier to find products that advertise a lack of casein. Gluten is a protein found in grains. There are "grain" products and flour without gluten now, but you may see a slightly higher cost to get them. These costs are improving with the popularity of the diets and existence of allergies.

There are reports that support the effects of this diet. Some claim that they have seen co-morbid effects of autism all but vanish by eliminating casein and gluten from children's diets. While this is worth trying, there are just as many families who report no changes at all. Since there are multiple forms of autism and it affects everyone so differently, be prepared to have to try more than one avenue of diet.


Reduction of sugars is reported to have a good affect, especially with those more hyper-active. ADHD sufferers may see a benefit from dropping most sugars from their diets. If you don't want to drop right to artificial sweeteners, you could try dropping the heaviest sugar of them all; High Fructose Corn Syrup. Products with a lack of HFC are growing in the rosters of what stores are selling. To see how much HFC is in a product, check the ingredients. If it's one of the first three or four items, then it likely has plenty of HFC to go around (on top of all other natural sugars). There are reports that lower sugar intake can also decrease anxiety.

Caffeine is a subject for personal trial. It's been found to sometimes have an opposite effect on the more hyper-active, by calming them. Again, this doesn't work for everyone, but it is worth trying at the low cost of caffeine products on the market. You might avoid using soda as a caffeine source if you want to avoid HFC or other heavy sugars.


Corn starch, especially from corn directly, has been found to cause problems in some children with autism. It's an odd issue, but corn is a highly potent starch and it's removal has been found to help with some children.

None of these are perfect or a remedy for everyone. The thing about diets, much like finding working medications, is trial and error. Keep track of the things your child eats and note behavior changes that seem to be linked to when that food type is consumed. Most times, you really can't hurt anything by trying one of these diets. If there is a concern about allergies or a serious medical condition that affects diet, see your doctor for guidance.

For other tips, avoid fad diets, see a dietician (many are covered by insurance!), and keep proper vitamins in your child's diet. Especially keep vitamins D and B12 if at all possible. Diet can be a tricky thing with autism kids. Between sensory issues, allergies, and effects above, it can be a tough road. Never give up.

You may not find the cure for autism in diet, but you may find a more comfortable diet for your loved one. That's all that matters.

3 comments:

Heather Babes said...

My more severe autistic child refuses to eat corn or corn products. It's really weird to see what you had to say on it. I think he knows his body very well!!

Becky said...

It's nice to see an blog post on diet and autism-although I can't say we've tried it all, sometimes it feels like we have! We used the gluten-free casein-free diet for my daughter with ASD, and are one of the families who didn't see much lasting benefit. We're now trying the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/autism/autism.htm), and seeing wonderful gains in speech, eye contact, sleep, and sensory sensitivity. I know that what works for one, won't necessarily work for another, but I'm glad that you're keeping the discussion going.

DJ Wilde said...

Thanks, Becky, the more information people can access, the better for learning more about diets to try.