While taking Daniel to the Occupational Therapist and the Speech Therapist, a while ago, I explained to them some of his behaviors and they both suggested going on a gluten-free and casein-free diet. These diets have been successful for some children on the autism spectrum. During this time another woman who I went to church with had also suggested those diets and I decided to look into them. I tried them and I really didn’t see a lot of difference so I quickly gave up. However, Daniel continued to writhe on the floor for hours after eating certain things, like Cheerios or oatmeal. He would scream and scream — I am not kidding for hours, but would want to eat the same foods.
Until one day I noticed he was talking a bit more.
I also noticed that he had cut out gluten on his own. I took note of what he was eating and I was concerned because he had limited himself to gluten-free types of snacks like, popcorn, All Natural Cheetos, white yogurt and cottage cheese. I was very worried about his health but he was starting to tell me things, like what he wanted! In my post Got to be Gluten-Free I talk about how he had eaten regular pretzels and crackers and what happened, after being on the gluten-free diet for a while. It was days of screaming, he stopped talking and just had days of meltdowns.
I gave him only gluten-free foods and he began to talk a little bit again.
That was enough for me, after doing some real research we went almost completely gluten-free in August 2009 (Daniel went completely gluten-free). I did not notice a change with the casein-free items. I basically had to administer my own studies of what foods he did well with and did not do well with. My discoveries revealed that if he drank milk he would have the same aggressive behavior and stomach pain. He seems to be ok with certain milk based products and does fine with yogurt but not straight milk. I have been that way my whole life.
Milk makes me sick.
In order to go with this restrictive diet I had to pretty much put all of us on it. I had already done a lot of research on organic foods, had become a professional at putting pureed fruits and veggies in all of our foods to help load us up on as many nutrients as possible, so all I had to do was switch our healthy life style over to gluten-free products. I had to get crafty in order to get nutrients and vitamins into Daniel. I have been baking my own breads, desserts and making my own pastas for a while, not all the time with the breads and pastas but quite often. All I really needed to do was become food chemists with gluten-free products to achieve some really great foods. I have achieved some really good things and some very poor things. When I started us on this diet I started to see significant changes in the whole family’s behavior. The children were not as emotional, they were much more alert and responsive for school, and they were energetic in a good way, not a hyper way. They were no longer having sleep problems.
Another thing we did was set a bedtime and have stuck to it — I believe this has helped in these areas as well.
David, Ariel and Joshua still have a limited amount of products that contain gluten. They are all items that are high quality and contain no GMO’s, high fructose corn syrup , saturated fats, minimally processed or not processed at all and limited amounts of sugar. No artificial sweeteners, limited amounts of sweets and juices. I give them the fruit instead of the juice. I do make a smoothie for them every morning that contains about a 1/4 cup of fruit juice. Now that I have limited their intake I know what products make them sick and which ones don’t. I have become a professional food label reader as well. All three of them (David, Ariel, Joshua) will get moody, tired, have bathroom problems, and have emotional issues. (Mainly anger and sadness.) How do I know all of this? I have done studies on my family. I have taken notes, observed their behavior and made detailed analysis of what effects everyone. At first this was all very time-consuming and extremely frustrating, trying to locate gluten-free foods in the grocery. However, fruits, veggies and rice are gluten-free so you can’t go wrong there!
When I eat gluten products now, I notice that I have major stomach problems and go through major anxiety issues.
Since I can remember I have had stomach problems, as a child my stomach hurt constantly and my mother thought I was faking, she took me to the doctor. There were several reasons for my stomach problems, food, social anxiety, and sensory overload. However since, I have switched to this diet and eliminated pork from our diets over seven years ago, I have not had the stomach issues related to food. (Unless I eat something I shouldn’t.) I only have stomach issues dealing with anxiety and sensory overload. We made this choice to help Daniel, I got educated about the foods we eat and how they affect us and I am very glad that we have made these choices. If anything Daniel is doing SO much better and has started to try different foods, which is huge.
His language has increased and his stomach problems are pretty much a non-issue.
However, there have been times when we are having bad weather, which seems to affect both of us somehow. The gluten-free diet may not work for all children on the autism spectrum, but it is worth it to give it a try. We have not had to get all new utensils, dishes and cookware — thankfully, it seems to be that if I stay on top of the foods he is eating he does fine. Having all of this information about how gluten effects our family has made it possible for me to prepare if we do go out to eat, Daniel rarely eats the food from a restaurant, and he may eat French fries if we get them. David, Ariel and Joshua all love burgers so when we go out and they get them I am prepared for the mood swings to start flying.
Every so often I cave and get a burger and then I pay dearly for my bad choice.
So we have to eat this way because, first of all, we have to stay gluten-free as much as possible. Secondly, the foods in restaurants or from people that I do not know very well are highly questionable, where the food comes from, how they are prepared and the major health issues that most of the foods offered or that most people eat can cause. I should note here that family is not excluded from this, we don’t eat food from our families either, and no one is excluded!
I have to stay on top of it otherwise our house hold goes into a frenzy.
I read restaurant nutritional information and I make sure I know what we are all eating. Third, we don’t have the money to eat out most of the time — I would rather save our money and purchase good quality foods than spend it on going out to places that can make us not feel well. Fourth, I think it is very important to eat well and take care of our body. It is our responsibility to take care of our kids — food should be a number one priority, in my opinion, since it is linked to being one of the main reasons for our health and mental issues. I feel that educating my kids about food, respecting where it comes from, how it is prepared and teaching them to make good healthy choices is part of my job as a parent. I am not condemning anyone for their eating choices. However if people truly knew how the food choices we make not only effect our well being, but the well being of animals and our environment I think that they would take it seriously.
We have to do what works for our family, and my passion for animals can be a little intense.
Be the first to like.