Diet Changes for Autism

Yesterday’s post had a comment asking: do diet changes help ADHD children?

I would love to be able to give you a resounding YES to this question.  However, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this is not a “one size fits all” method.  I would give it a try before moving on to medication.  The keys to a successful elimination diet are: an experienced doctor/nutritionist team and vigilance in finding and eliminating any and all sources of the offending substance.  Also, cross-contamination during processing is the reason we chose to cook from scratch instead of  introducing new contaminants.

My experience with elimination diets started 2 days after our oldest was born ( twelve years ago): our family doctor came to visit us.  After spending several minutes trying to free his stethoscope from my infant daughter’s grasping fingers, he said: ” you have one of those…”  I asked him to explain himself.

“Well, you know…she is hyperactive.  Just make sure that you keep her off sugar and TV, while giving her plenty of time outside” he said and started us on a low sugar diet.  Months later, we had to take her off all dairy due to vomit, colic and a stagnated weight.  It worked for our family.

Brainscan of brains with and without ADHD
Brainscan of brains with and without ADHD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It also works for some of my students who happen to be on the autistic spectrum.  For example, one of my students I shall call “Ron” joined my home schooled group, part-time, several years ago.  Ron was diagnosed with high-functioning autism.  By that time, the whole house was on a gluten, dairy free and low sugar diet.  As such,  I asked Ron to join us for breakfast, lunch and occasional dinners instead of bringing in the house items that might have contaminated the cutting boards, pans and toaster.  After several months on this diet, Ron brought to my attention that he felt “exhausted with a foggy brain” only during the weekend.  I gave him a copy of the “quick-start guide to gluten-free diet” from Living Without Magazine and shared with him and his family some of our families favorite gluten-free recipes.   Meanwhile, both Ron and his Mother were diagnosed with a wheat allergy.

This brings me to another point I want to make about allergies in general: they are hereditary in nature.  If you have a child with gluten allergies, for example, there are parents, grandparents and siblings who might have the same allergies   ( not necessarily the same reactions or symptoms).


In conclusion, I believe that elimination diets could produce remarkable results in certain children on the autistic spectrum.


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