With a recent wave of new information becoming readily available online, awareness of autism spectrum disorder is growing. Parents of autistic children can now educate themselves far more easily. At least in theory. In practice, there is a great deal of misinformation about autism as well and many well-meaning parents can actually hinder their child’s development with a poor understanding of their child’s disorder.
Separating fact from fiction can be difficult.
One question many parents find themselves asking with the modern upsurge of available information on autism is “can diet help with autism?”. While many claim that there are diets that improve the behavior of autistic children and help them function better, the actual evidence as such is questionable at best. While there are certainly studies that indicate that a diet free of gluten and casein (known as the gluten free casein free or GFCF diet) is a worthwhile way to alleviate some of the disorder’s problems and improve a child’s ability to function in life, other experiences have indicated that this approach has not seemed to make a real difference. The question of “can diet help with autism?” will vary from child to child. The best way to find out is to do research, try eliminating troublesome foods, and observe your child’s behavior.
Autism spectrum disorders remain poorly understood as of this writing and there is no cure, medical, holistic or otherwise. The only way for parents to handle autistic children is through the difficult processes of getting professional help and putting in extra effort to help an autistic child grow up. Claims of cures of autism are not grounded in science, and many times, claims of miraculous cures can just as easily be seen as a child growing up and adapting to their disorder on their own. Attempting to replicate the success of claims of curing autism not grounded in scientific research can actually do far more harm than good for an autistic child.
However, it has been shown that autistic children do tend to have food allergies at a higher rate than neurotypical children. The phenomenon of “leaky gut” that is oftentimes touted as the main reason GFCF diets are helpful, are not universally occurring in autistic children, but autistic children do seem to have a higher rate of suffering from this problem. Other forms of food allergies are also quite prevalent among autistic children and regularly consuming foods one is allergic too can have all kinds of detrimental effects on one’s behavior and mood.
Knowing a child’s food allergies, be they autistic or neurotypical, is always a good move for parents. Taking a child to a medical professional who specializes in determining allergies is a good move for parents of autistic children given how often autistic children have allergies. After consulting with this professional, parents should absolutely adjust their child’s diet based on what is learned about their child’s allergies. While this is true of all children with allergies, it is particularly important for autistic children as a bad diet can only complicate the already difficult lives of autistic children.