Dietary Changes in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

January 30, 2008 at 8:34 pm 1 comment

Here is a question from Kathy about the Gluten-free/Casein-free diet and Specific Carbohydrate Diet: “I was considering putting my 5 yr. old on medication for severe temper tamptrums mostly over food. Do you reccomend trying the diet first? I think it will be hard because he is obsessed with food he binge eats.”  Kathy

Hi Kathy,

While I am not a medical doctor and, therefore, cannot advise on any particular child’s case, I have applied a simple principle to my own son’s treatment – if help can be found through dietary changes and nutritional supplements, we always try this first. There is a great deal of evidence supporting dietary intervention for autism spectrum disorders. The Gluten-free/Casein-free diet (look at information on, the Feingold diet (, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet ( and

Let me share our experience with you. Prior to removing gluten and casein from my son’s diet 2 ½ years ago, my son craved Carr’s Whole Wheat Crackers, which he called “soft crackers” and ate them almost daily. We went cold turkey when we started the GF/CF diet and stopped consuming all foods containing gluten and casein at once. For the first three weeks of the GF/CF diet, my son threw fit after fit every afternoon, yelling “soft crackers!!” and throwing himself down on the ground. Then, after three weeks, all of a sudden, he no longer asked for them and no longer threw tantrums! Generally, each time we make a dietary change, it takes a couple of weeks for my son to adapt, and then he is happy with the change.

Many times, children (and adults too) will crave foods which are problematic, so the cravings for a particular food can be an indication of foods which need to be avoided. Additionally, sometimes particular food cravings can be a sign of nutrient deficiency, so we always make sure to take high-quality vitamin and mineral supplements.

Yes, change is difficult for children with autism spectrum disorders. However, if we as parents and caregivers of our precious children remain strong, positive, and committed to implementing the change, our children sense our confidence and strength, and, I believe, will adapt more readily.

A final thought – we need to lead our children confidently, and effectively.  I believe it is absolutely important to consider my child’s wants, desires, feelings, likes and dislikes.  However, I am also responsible for taking him down this road to recovery from autism.  The very minor discomfort caused to my son by dietary changes is far outweighed by the benefit!  Many parents report significant improvements in behavior through the GF/CF diet and SCD.  I know we saw them, and I hope you do too! 

Blessings to you and your family in this journey!


Entry filed under: biomedical treatments, Gluten-Free/Casein-Free & Specific Carbohydrate Die. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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Autism-Changing Tomorrow (ACT) blog is maintained to provide a place where ideas and thoughts relating to autism and treatments for autism may be exchanged. The information on Autism-Changing Tomorrow is of a general nature and is provided with the understanding that ACT or any individuals or entities associated with ACT are not engaged in rendering medical advice or recommendations. Any information in the postings, messages, articles, comments, and publications in or on the ACT blog must not be considered medical advice or recommendations and such information should not be considered a substitute for consultation with a board certified physician to address individual medical needs.

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