Autism is a variable disorder, affecting children in different ways. It is a whole body disorder and not just something that changes brain function. It is important that people realize the entire body is involved so that appropriate treatment can be used.
Just like the same weight loss diet has different effects on people, the same holds true for diets that many families try for autism. Due to the differences in behavior, many caregivers try various diets until they find one that works for them. Autism Spectrum disorders are thought to be a disruption in brain function, but it is a whole body disorder. Recent research has shown that those suffering from autism also have different metabolic functions and they may require more things like antioxidants. One of the more common diets to try is one where all artificial flavorings, colorings, and preservatives are removed from the diet. This reduces the toxin load that the body has to deal with.
Another popular diet that is used is the Gluten Free, Casein Free diet. This diet removes two proteins that are difficult to digest for some people. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, and barley. It is found that people who cannot digest gluten feel foggy and have a decreased sensitivity to pain. These things may account for some of the behaviors associated with autism. Casein is one of the proteins found in milk, the other is whey. Remember that little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet eating her curds and whey. Curds would be the casein. The link between casein and autism may not be as clear, but several small studies have shown marked improvement when children were put on dairy free diets.
If those diets do not work, are you out of options? NO. There are several other diets, but they get more restrictive. Another diet is one that is known as the Specific Carbohydrate diet. It removes most grains and reduces the amount of carbohydrates in the diet. The premise is that removing sugars that feed the overgrowth of yeast and the like in the gut will help improve symptoms and behavior. it is also important with this diet to improve the gut microflora so that good bacteria, AKA "probiotics" can flourish.
There are knowledgeable doctors, nurses, and dietitians who can help people navigate these special diets. Many of the reports on these diets is contradictory, but promising. The nice thing about trying a diet is that it is non-invasive and natural. Just like the same weight loss diet does not work for everyone, it is the same with autism spectrum disorders. These are just a few of the diets that are being tried with success. Defeat Autism Now (DAN) clinicians work with families to find the right diet and supplements for each child. There are many health care practitioners who can help. It is important for parents to keep working to find the right treatments for their child.