Special Diet For Childhood Disorder Management

Special Diet For Childhood Disorder Management

Some studies indicate that a special diet may be beneficial to children with special needs. Kids with epilepsy, ADHD, or ASD have shown positive results in terms of handling their disorders by following strict dietary management.  In the case of ASD, there are several dietary plans for which claims of improvement in symptoms have been made.

Gluten-Free/Casein-Free Diet (GFCF Diet)

The gluten-free/casein-free diet, also known as the GFCF diet, is one of the most widely used special diets for children with disorders in the autism spectrum. The GFCF diet involves removing all food and food products that contain the proteins gluten or casein. Children with other diseases such as celiac or who are allergic to gluten and dairy may benefit from this diet, too. The GFCF is recommended by the Autism Research Institute.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, spelled, barley, rye, and oats that have been contaminated by being processed in the same mills as other grains, while Casein is a milk protein found in dairy products such as milk, margarine, and other milk-based products.

Ketogenic Diets

Ketogenic diets are high in fat and protein but low in carbohydrates and sugar. Children who suffer from seizure disorders such as epilepsy will benefit most from this diet. The ketogenic diet may effectively reduce the frequency of seizures of a child but this diet should be applied with the supervision of a doctor. At the present time, only a very small amount of research has been undertaken regarding the effects of ketogenic diets on symptoms of ASD.

Feingold Diet

This special diet was developed in the 1970’s by Dr. Benjamin Feingold, who theorized that chemicals, additives, and sugars in the diet may be reacting negatively to children with ADD. This diet works on the practice of eliminating sugar, starch, dyes, preservatives, artificial flavors, and salicylate, which is found in aspirin and its related products. Eliminating non-food products such a fragrance and colored toothpaste are also recommended.

Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)

The SCD or Specific Carbohydrate Diet’s main purpose is to restore microbe/yeast balance in the intestines. Research indicates a poor balance between microbes and yeast may exacerbate symptoms in chronic conditions such as ADHD, Crohn’s disease, food allergies, and autism spectrum disorders. A child under SCD may only eat certain carbohydrates such as beans, vegetables, honey, and fruits. The rest of the child’s diet is foods rich in protein like eggs, chicken, and other meats. Food additives, sugar, and starch are absolutely prohibited in this diet.

SCD diets are gluten-free and the dairy products allowed under SCD are lactose-free and contain only denatured casein. By eliminating the dairy products that contain even denatured casein, it is possible to have an SCD diet that is completely GFCF.

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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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