Gluten Free/Casein Free Diets For Special Kids

Gluten Free/Casein Free Diets for Special Kids

A growing body of research evidence indicates that diet plays an important role in the management of autism spectrum disorders. One diet program that has drawn significant interest in this area is diets in which all sources of the proteins gluten and casein are eliminated, known as Gluten-Free/Casein-Free (GFCF) diets. In a recent clinical trial, a group of researchers in Norway, Denmark, and the UK conducted a two-stage, 24-month, randomized, and controlled trial to determine the effect of GFCF diets in children with ASD and recorded impressive results indicating that dietary intervention can positively affect developmental outcome for some autistic children. (Whiteley, et al., 2010 )

According to the Mayo Clinic, “one popular diet eliminates gluten – a protein found in most grains, including wheat – and casein (a milk protein).” However, the clinic emphasizes that further studies need to be conducted to verify the effectiveness of this treatment method. It is also recommended that you consult an expert before you start a special diet regimen.  (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2011)

Some studies have shown a relationship between autism and gastrointestinal complications. The University of California Davis Health system showed that autistic children born in the 1990s were more likely to have gastrointestinal ailments than their counterparts who were born in the early 1980s. GFCF helps in combating GI ailments.

There have also been a number of reports of improvement in both behavior and speech when patients diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorders underwent prolonged GFCF diets.

Other research studies have shown a link between autistic disorders and dysfunction of the immune system affecting how the body breaks down some proteins and combat bacteria and yeasts. Special diet, therefore, plays an important role in managing autism spectrum disorders. (Lewis, 1998) According to the Cutting-Edge Therapies for Autism 2010-2011, children with autism tend to have abnormal immune responses to wheat, milk, and soy.

Taking a GFCF diet is more than avoiding bread and milk. Apart from grains, gluten is also found in semolina, malt, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, couscous, vinegar, artificial colors, flavorings, hydrolyzed vegetable proteins, and starches. Besides milk and milk products, casein may be found in such non-milk products as hot dogs and soy cheese.

In addition to taking a GFCF diet, it is a good idea to watch against yeast, probiotics, and other allergens. Other helpful things include such supplements as vitamins A, B-6, B-12, and C as well as folic acid, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids.  (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2011)

If you are considering placing your autistic child on a GFCF or other special diet, be sure to consult a nutrition professional to ensure the diet you select will be safe for your child and that your child gets the necessary nutrition.

References:

Whiteley, P.; Haracopos, D.; Knivsberg, A.; Reichelt, K.; Parlar, S.; Jacobsen, J.; Seim, A.; Pedersen, L.; Schondel, M. & Shattock, P. The ScanBrit randomized, controlled, single-blind study of a gluten- and casein-free dietary intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders

The Mayo Clinic. Mayo.com. Alternative Medicine. Retrieved March 30, 2011, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/autism/DS00348/DSECTION=alternative-medicine

Lisa, s. (1998) Special Diet For Special Kids.

Ken, S.; Lyons, T., Arranga, T. (2010) Cutting-Edge Therapies for Autism 2010-2011.

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Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

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