Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How do you tell if your child has that problem and how does the gfcf diet help?

While searching for blog ideas, and what readers wanted to know about I was asked the following question…

“Some people believe that their kids autistic traits are caused by "gut" problems. How do you tell if your child has that problem and how does the gfcf diet help?”

For my child the answer was pretty easy. At 2 years 9 months he had never had a firm stool. So when we were given the diagnoses of Autism, we had already read about GFCF, and decided to start immediately. Within 3 months of starting diet, Austin had his first solid stool. For many parents constant constipation is also a sign.
This being said I have friends who swear their child never ever had gi issues and still benefited from the diet. Also children who will only eat gluten and casein filled foods as if they are addicted to them also seem to benefit from the diet.

In my mind every child with Autism and possible ADD or ADHD should try the diet for at least a year.

Since I really can only address how the diet has changed our lives here is some more about the diet from Talk About Curing Autism Now’s website.

Research by Dr. Harumi Jyonouchi shows that 91% of people with ASD who were put on a strict GFCFSF diet improved. Jyonouchi’s papers say that ASD children have an aberrant immune response to the dietary proteins found in gluten, casein and soy. This peer-reviewed research merely backs up what parents have been saying for more than 10 years. Countless parents report that the diet is dramatically beneficial for their child. The most common comment we hear from parents is that their child “came out of the fog” when we started the diet. Many parents report that their children began to talk or increased their speech with the diet as well. Although this is anecdotal evidence, the preponderance of is it massive and consistent, and deserves a trial by families.

While we would like to have more double-blind studies to back up the diet, the truth is that it’s a very hard thing to study and make sure compliance was 100% in both groups without putting each in a controlled environment. Most parents would not allow this. The few recent studies that have been done were designed to fail as they didn’t run for the full 4 month trial period (most just a mere few weeks), although parents report that 4 months is the turning point. Additionally, those trials still allowed soy and unlimited high-sugar foods.”

You can read more about this at TACA

For my child diet has not meant recovery, he is still non verbal and has Autism, but it has dramatically improved Austin’s quality of life as well as our family’s quality of life.

We received the diagnoses on June 15, 2004 and started GF the next day and the next day after that we went CF. At that time Austin was 2 years 9 months old. He slept 2 hours a night, he spinned, colored, and ran full force into walls the other 22 hours of the day. He never ever stopped moving. He also was a huge poop smearer. Austin had no eye contact and thought of us as nothing more then the furniture in our house. If we were not needed for feeding him or giving him a drink he would have never acknowledge us. He also would only eat wonder bread, macaroni and cheese, cereal, cheese and milk. We went through a gallon of milk every other day.

About 2 months into the diet I was about ready to give up, I really was not seeing anything, but everyone around me was. We had a play group that met once a week that summer to go to the beach, each week the other mom’s would comment on something new Austin was doing. As I was just about to give up, I like to say God intervened and handed Austin a piece of Wonder Bread. Within 20 minutes of that one slice of bread Austin started spinning again and started coloring on the wall. Two things I had not noticed had disappeared. I now know that I have learned nothing from the diet, but I learn everything from infractions. Things just seem to fade a way so quietly that you miss them.

Fast forward almost 6 years later, and now GFCF, egg free, apple free and on Houston Enzymes TriEnza chewables, and many vitamins and supplements. Austin is still non verbal, but will now sit down and watch a football game, a movie, and play with toys with very few times to get up and stim. His eye contact is amazing. He hugs and kisses his family, his eyes light up when he sees someone he knows. Austin knows a half dozen American Sign Language signs, and is now learning to communicate with the aid of an iPod Touch and Proloquo2go . He is mainstreamed and working on social skills 1/3 of his school day. At his birthday party last September it was his first year that he opened presents and enjoyed it. He loved finding new toys in every package. It was the first year he ever really played with any toy purchased for him. He may not always play appropriate, but he plays with them.

He is truly a different child then the one I had 6 years. It simply amazes me how many parents won’t try the diet because in their minds it is too hard. As the parent of a not recovered child with Autism, I can’t imagine not doing the diet. I can’t imagine how bad Austin would still be right now had I not reached out side my comfort zone and given it a try.

Here are a few books I recommend on this topic. They are easy to read and not like reading a medical journal, they are great starter books to introduce parents to diet and why it works for some children:
Healing Our Autistic Children: A Medical Plan for Restoring Your Child's Health by Julie A. Buckley

Enzymes for Autism and Other Neurological Conditions: Updated Third Edition by Karen DeFelice

Talk About Curing Autism Now’s section on GFCFSF.

If you’re on the fence about diet and enzymes, I highly encourage you to step out side your comfort zone and give it a try. It might surprise you.

So until next time PITA.


  1. I was wondering why no apples and what are The Houston Enzymes TriEnza chewables? Thank you for answering my questions about the gfcf diet.

  2. Yes you can get TriEnza is a chewable.

    For many people they avoid apples because they feed yeast.

    For Austin the cause severe diaherra that leads to a severe diaper rash. The last time he had one it burned down to his knees.

  3. I wanted to ask a question that is a little off the subject of dieting. Have you heard of AIT? It is Auditory Integration Training. The best way to explain it is it is a kind of music therapy given through headphones. My son is 7 and has autism. He recived AIT for two weeks and I can't tell you how amazed I am by the results. He was in diapers until around a week after finishing his AIT sessions, and then, just like that, things fell in to place. He is now completely potty trained and managed to accomplish that in about 1 week. He also was pretty much non verbal before the AIT and now actually attempts speech, and says quite a few things, although they can be hard to understand at times. He actually asks me for things, sometimes with just an incoherent word and gesture, but it is a major improvement from before. I just thought I would offer that suggestion if you hhaven't already tried it.