Specializing in In-Home ABA Programs for Children with Autism & Other Related Disorders
Gluten-Free/Casein-Free Diet Authors Mary Fry, Diane Gallant & Moira Giammetteo
What is the gluten-free, casein-free (GF/CF) diet?
This is a dietary intervention to lessen the digestive and bowel issues sometimes found in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Recent research indicates that there are children with a genetic predisposition to the disorder which is then triggered by some as yet undetermined event – a vaccine, environmental toxin, or virus – which can cause a "leaky gut” (sometimes evidenced by resulting chronic loose stools as the child cannot properly digest these proteins.) If this happens, wheat and dairy are then metabolized as opiates. It is believed that by eliminating gluten (wheat) and milk protein (casein), the gut will begin to heal and the child's overall condition will improve somewhat. Sometimes additional factors are in play and must be addressed as well before positive change is seen (such as yeast overgrowth, as an example). Because the diet is considered an "alternative" therapy, school administrators, medical personnel, and others often view it with skepticism. But, for some children, eliminating gluten and casein helps lessen self-stimulating behaviors, increases focus, and resolves gastro-intestinal distress. That’s why many parents swear by it.
The diet is not a cure for autism nor is it a substitute for traditional one-on-one intervention. Rather, by making the child more comfortable, the child becomes more receptive to learning (not to mention the potential positive impact in the child’s overall health, demeanor, and possible reduction in negative behaviors).