As an autism parent, you know that the search for therapies and treatments can be a long one. There are many different things to try and all of them can come with their own consequences. But there is one treatment that has been shown to help children with autism improve as well as have fewer symptoms: gluten free diets. In this article, we will discuss what causes these diet changes in autistic children, how they may affect your child’s behavior and emotions, why a gluten-free diet might work better than other options for some individuals on the spectrum, and what kind of challenges you might face when trying out this alternative method of treatment.
🧩 The Gluten Free Diet and Autism
When this diet is selected, the practitioner eliminates the consumption of gluten, which is a protein that occurs in nature in grains such barley, wheat and oats. In addition to gluten, the diet also calls for the elimination of casein which is produced in dairy production and found in milk and cheeses.
The gluten free diet and autism have been linked in a positive manner by the fact that many of those who suffer from autism also have gastrointestinal problems. These findings were based on a study performed at the University of Rochester, where researchers concluded a gluten free diet and autism were found to be beneficial.
Studies that concentrate on the testimonials of individual parents and caregivers cover a broad range of results. Some parents go as far as to claim a complete recovery form autistic symptoms, while other report no noticeable changes in behaviors or health. This wide spectrum of results has caused the diet to become quite controversial in the Autism community with many supporters and detractors all voicing equally strong opinions. While most of the evidence to support a claim that the two are related is anecdotal, there is enough of it that the issue is worth further exploring.
Those parents who have found success with the gluten free diet and autism point out that the diet is worth trying as little harm has been attributed to practicing it. One of the fears of the diet is that it can result in brittle bones if it leads to a deficiency on vitamin D. Boys who suffer from autism were already found to be at a greater risk of weak bones than those boys who do not fall within the autism spectrum. This fact along with the bone loss that occurs from eliminating casein has caused some concern.
📢 The Gluten Free Diet and Autism FAQ on Autism and Gluten Free Diet
i) What diet helps autism?
A gluten-free diet is a potential treatment for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) which may help improve their behavior and emotions. Gluten, the protein found in wheat products such as breads, cakes, pasta dishes and cereals has been linked to behavioral symptoms of ASD including aggression, anger outbursts or tantrums.
ii) What deficiencies cause autism?
Some children with autism have been shown to suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies that may be exacerbated by the behavior of their autistic spectrum disorder. One such deficiency is a lack of zinc, which can contribute to anxiety, difficulty concentrating or hyperactivity. A gluten-free diet decreases these symptoms as it eliminates foods high in glutens like wheat products.
iii) How does a gluten-free diet for autism work?
The idea behind the diet is to avoid foods that include gluten, a protein found in wheat products. By avoiding these foods your child will not be exposed to their effects and therefore may experience less behavioral symptoms of ASD. There are many possible reasons for this effect including: some people with autism have an intolerance or allergy to certain proteins; other children may be sensitive to foods with gluten; and chemicals or preservatives in the food may also cause ASD symptoms.
There has also been links drawn between the effects of the gluten free diet ADHD, celiac disease, autism and a variety of other dietary and behavior issues. The gluten free diet has many success stories in treating children who were hyperactive or suffered from oppositional defiance disorder.