Friday, January 7, 2011


My grandnephew has been through a lot of testing and finally, after a long time, has been given a health label of autism.  Like most psychological/mental diagnoses, autism is a wide-ranging and varied disorder with a host of different possible but unproven causes.  Nobody knows what causes autism.  There are lots of causes, perhaps nearly as many as there are individuals with the label.

One of the extremely common contributing factors to autism is dietary related.  The following food items have been reported to exacerbate autism:
  • grains, particularly gluten-containing grains - wheat, barley, and oats.
  • food preservatives
  • food dyes
  • artificial sweeteners
  • sensitivity to particular foods on an individual basis
Food sensitivities are best tested through an elimination diet.  The ironic rule of thumb on what foods could be causing a sensitivity problem are those that are ingested the most.  Any foods eaten a lot, or foods for which there are cravings are suspect.  These need to be eliminated for a period of at least two weeks, a month is even better.  Over that period of abstaining, if there are offending foods in that list, autism symptoms, as well as other health issues (e.g. insomnia, snuffly noses) may improve gradually.  At the end of the period, foods can be added back into the diet one by one.  An offending food will almost immediately and dramatically cause a worsening of symptoms once again.

Brain and nerve function are significantly affected by nutrition.  Adequate B vitamins, calcium, and minerals like zinc, copper, magnesium, and selenium are all crucial to enzyme functions that control proper nerve firing.

Toxicity problems would be the third area of concern that I'll mention here.  Exposures to heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, mercury, and aluminum can all cause significant impairment of nerve and brain function.  Hair analysis is one less expensive, but fairly accurate way to evaluate how much of problem this may be.

We do not know what the mechanism for autism is.  We do not know causes or triggers.  But, we do know that many of these natural factors play at least some role in the body's overall general ability to function.  If incorporating them into lifestyle changes will alter the course of, or improve the symptoms of autism why would they not be tried?  Because, even IF they make no difference at all, I am confident they would improve ANYONE'S health. 

1 comment:

Patti Fredericksen Colt said...

I think the most 'confusing' thing about an Autism Spectrum diagnosis is that there is no way to determine the why. Why this kid and not that kid? What conflux of conditions melded together to cause this? We will never know. I can attest to the food ideas here. We embarked on an experimentation with grandson's food and the results were helpful to his overall situation. Educating yourself and trying anything and everything within logical reasoning is especially important because every autistic child is different.