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Autism Spectrum Disorder

There Are Many Pieces to the Puzzle

Autism Specrum Disorder (ASD)  is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impairments in verbal and non verbal communication, deficits in social skills and repetitive behaviors.  Autism affects how information is processed in the brain by altering how nerve cells and synapses interact.  Symptoms can appear as early as 6 months and autism is usually diagnosed by age three.  Most children start by reaching their developmental milestones, then a regression is noted.  Autism is called Autism Spectrum Disorder because there is a constellation of symptoms and autism is highly variable to each child.  In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association combined 4 diagnoses under one Autism Spectrum Disorder  umbrella: Asperger syndrome, autistic disorder, pervasive developmental delay, NOS and childhood disintegrative disorder. 

​​​When I counsel parents on this way of eating, I ask them to remove sugar, dairy and gluten from their child's diet.  We remove Red Dye #7 and processed foods.  The whole family eats clean, whole foods. Kids don’t need goldfish, fruit snacks, cookies, crackers, and Chicken McNuggets. They need real food. 

It's hard to eat healthy.  I get it.  It takes a little planning.  It's also hard to raise a child with ASD. Choose your hard.
I worked with a little boy with ASD for about a year.  To watch this beautiful child go from standing in the corner flapping, with no eye contact, to a child who spoke to me, looked at me and hugged me was truly a gift.  I'm not saying this diet will cure your child, but it will definitely help your child become the best version of themselves they can be.

For more information on healing, diet and ASD check out
Unfortunately, no one knows what causes autism.  It is thought to arise from a combination of genetic and environmental factors, but more research needs to be done.  We have noticed a rise in autism over the past 20 years, but it is unclear if this is an actual rise, or an increase in diagnosis due to improved surveillance.

Symptoms that may indicate Autism Spectrum Disorder include poor eye contact, a delay in speaking, lack of interest in playing with other children and not wanting to be held or cuddled.  The CDC estimates that 1 in 68 American children  are identified as falling on the autism spectrum.  It is 5 times more common in boys than in girls.

While there is no known cure for Autism Spectrum Disorder, there are things you can do to maximize your child's potential. Specifically, there are dietary management tools that you can use.  Changing your child's diet is HARD, no question about that.  But once you see the gains that can occur, you will be so thankful you persevered.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), which addresses the Gut-Brain axis of disease, has been used quite successfully by parents of autistic children.  The basic premise is that you ingest no foods that contain carbohydrates other than those found in fruits, honey and certain vegetables and nuts.  This diet heals a leaky gut fraught with bacterial and fungal overgrowth, which may, in turn, help heal the brain.  The true SCD allows for some dairy products.  Dairy is  not recommended for children with ASD.  Check this site out

If the Specific Carbohydrate Diet seems overwhelming, you can try a similar diet called GFCFSF.  GFCFSF, stands for gluten free, casein free, soy free. breaks this diet down into a 10 week cycle that may be easier to follow.
Weeks 1-2: Remove all casein (milk, cheese, ice cream, sour cream, etc). Do not replace them with soy. Begin calcium supplementation.

Weeks 3-4: Remove gluten - wheat, oats, barley and rye.

Weeks 5-6: Remove all soy. Now your child is considered to be “on the diet!"

Weeks 7-8: Recheck everything and refine diet, if needed. Replace any personal care items such as shampoo, toothpaste, laundry soap and classroom supplies.

Weeks 9-10: Recheck everything and refine diet, if needed. Do an inventory of sugars and carbohydrates, adjust diet to good levels.

Here's a great Autism friendly recipe for the kids.

Chicken Nuggets

  • 3 Organic boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 Eggs
  • ½ C  Low Fat Vanilla Rice Milk
  • ½ C Bob's Red Mill GF Pancake Mix
  • Lawry's Seasoned Salt
  • ½ C GFCF bread made into crumbs
  • ¼ C Ground Flaxseed Meal (optional)
  • Oil for frying (safflower, sunflower or peanut)

Cut up chicken into whatever size "nugget" you want.  
Beat eggs and add rice milk - just like you use to dip French toast.
Mix up equal part of pancake mix and bread crumbs,
Add seasoned salt to your taste and sugar
Put oil in either an electric skillet or a deep fryer. Heat to 350 degrees. 
Dip chicken in egg wash, then into the crumb mixture and then into the oil.

You can make a large amount and then freeze. They heat up better in the oven than the microwave.