Autism affects children by disrupting their ability to communicate and interact socially with others. Parents try alternative treatments to reduce their child’s symptoms, which includes specialized diets for autism. The gluten-free/casein-free diet has grown in popularity. And, some parents have reported improvements in their autistic children with a new dietary regimen. However, there has been little research to prove that the gluten-free/casein-free diet for autism works.
Gluten-Free/Casein-Free Diet: The Facts
A gluten-free/casein-free diet, also known as the GFCF Diet, is a strict elimination eating plan where all foods containing gluten and casein are removed from the child’s daily food intake. Gluten is a protein found in the seeds of grains like barley, oats, rye, and wheat. Casein is a protein that is prevalent in cow’s milk and cheese. Unfortunately, a large number of foods contain gluten and casein, which makes it hard to totally eliminate.
Some people believe that their children are allergic or sensitive to the components found in foods that contain gluten or casein. Among the benefits reported are changes in speech and behavior.
A recent pediatrics report reaffirms the skeptics’ view about diet as a definite positive treatment for autism. Recently, an expert panel came to the conclusion that there is no “rigorous evidence” that digestive problems are more common in children with autism compared to other children, or that a special diet would work.
Actress Jenny McCarthy is one of the more famous vocal proponents of a dietary treatment for autism, as she has searched for solutions for her autistic child. Maybe her high-profile plight has contributed to the fact that nearly one in five autistic children are on a special diet. Surely, the debate will continue.
“I think we still have a lot to learn about the gut and how it contributes to behavioral symptoms,” says Lee Grossman, president of the Autism Society.
Autism Awareness Week – a series of articles by moms and experts related to the diet and fitness role in autism treatment.
January 14th, 2010