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Wheat free and dairy free for autism

berryblondeboys's picture

Wheat free and dairy free for autism

Wah! Lost my entire post by forgetting to hit save below!

Anyway, there is an article I just read that had piqued my interest:

It's one study, not replicated, but it can't 'hurt' to try to do a wheat and dairy free diet to see if we see any improvements in the austic behaviors.

My son is on the spectrum. He's an odd ball case though fo showing many of the symptoms, but not all the key ones - mainly, he's social and interacts with people, but he ilanguage skills are that of a 2-3 year old (he's 5), he doesn't play with toys in imaginary play, and he has some gross and fine motor skills issues and the biggee - food aversions. He has only tried a handful of foods ad dismisses food on visual inspection only. Most of his diet consists of dairy and Wheat.

He is, however, smart as a whip. - beginner reader, does simple addition, subtraction, and can count forever including by tens, fives, and twos.


So, how can I try this wheat and dairy free when he refuses to try most foods? Is there ANY way to get a light sandwich bread anything like a commercial potato bread? or wheat free cereals that look like cheerios?


Much thanks!


berryblondeboys's picture

Should have done more research first... I'm usually a skeptic and here is good reason to be skeptical:


henry doesn't have gatrointestinal issues, so chances are he won't see any improvements in behavior either.

verminiusrex's picture

My 5 year old has autism. Discovering his lactose intolerance and eliminating dairy from his diet did wonders for his behavior at school, because he is no longer constantly uncomfortable. I do think that if the autistic child has food allergies than treating them does wonders for their behavior, which helps them socially and academically. 

Like happens many times with a disorder that is largely a mystery, if someone discovers a treatment that helps in one case, people apply it to everyone with the disorder. Many children with autism may benefit from dietary adjustments, but too many parents try to blame things like gluen and dairy as the cause for the disorder when it is most likely genetic.

berryblondeboys's picture

I totally believe that autism is genetic and I don't believe it's prevalence has sky-rocketed, but that we just became more aware of it and knew what to call it. Before, people were just weird or eccentric (if they were borderline) and mentally disabled, needs to be institutionalized if they had more severe forms of it.

Henry is a borderline case - or, more appropriately put, he fits some categories for diagnosis, but not all. Some he has pretty severe symptoms, others minor, while others not at all. So, he's classified as PPD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified) which means what? They agree he's on the sprectrum, but don't know how to classify him - so helpful.

I struggle quite a bit with 'should he be getting therapies' to be mainstream normal or not. I think he benefits somewhat, but he'll never be NORMAL... his brain doesn't function like mine, or my husbands. Sometimes, I think it's that he's so smart in some areas, that he learns/accepts new information differently than the typical person. Other times I think he just had some neurological misprogramming so that he can't decode language properly (he not only couldn't understand a lot spoken, but didn't seem to understand what it said). It's coming, but with patience and time and maturity.

The only 'big' reason I found this study interesting was that he's ALWAYS had a dairy/wheat diet and maybe if he didn't??? He refused to try any foods until he was 11 months old - strictly breastfed. Then he would eat white bread only, then little by little a few more things, but ALWAYS picky and always clamped his mouth shut and there is no getting him to eat somthign he doesn't want to eat - no way.

Then when I read, you need to try to be gluten free for 6 months to see if there is any difference in behavior (because it takes that long!) No way. I could experiment for a couple weeks, but not that long for a big, "probably not worth trying, but let's give it a whirl."


clazar123's picture

No matter what conditions we have or don't have, good nutrition and good food  that is right for us makes us all better and stronger. I had this demonstrated with my son when he was 11 yrs old and went to summer camp for 2 weeks. He had milk allergies and environmental allergies and had some behavioural issues-not bad but noticeable.  I was anxious. I had taught him how to handle his food allergies but he was 11 .I pretty much trusted he'd use 11 yr old judgement. This camp had a special focus on providing homemade,wholesome food with a lot of fruits and vegetables and no candy/junk.Not organic but definitely good food. After 2 weeks,I thought aliens had abducted my son and left this calm,personable young man in his place. It was a great illustration as to how nutrition affects personality. And we had very little junk food in our house so I was really taken aback on the effect of removing all junk.

So work on figuring out what is good food for your son but remember to make him feel loved in the process-he is not his condition.


jlewis30's picture

Remember that going gluten FREE is pretty intense. Wheat and baked goods are the "bulk", many sauces and flavorings and other foods contain gluten as well. That said, many of those food are better (nutritionally) *reduced* for a variety of reasons so it is hard to say if improvements you see are due to gluten, or just a healthier regimen.

I have an ASD son as well. None of those studies regarding gluten (or vaccines for that matter) are substantiated. But it is never a bad idea to make improvements! Seriously though, my boy gets better every year, maturity has made a big difference. Also, we did a lot of training based on this (, great stuff for kids on the spectrum.

berryblondeboys's picture

We already eat a really, really good diet at home - no junk, but... the little guy won't eat it. My soon to be 14 year old eats perfect. Henry will not. He'll eat chicken, but only if it's breaded and fried.

My older son has realllllly strong ADHD and diet has always been important (and regular exercise). Actually, when he goes to college and has to eat dorm food or roommate food, he's going to DIE.. the kid is a health food junky.

My little guy just came wired differently. He's never even put a piece of pasta in his mouth because for some reason, to him, that's not something he should eat. He'll 'say' salad is delicious, but won't try any part of it. So, actually, we are quite happy he eats what he does as at least it's balanced unlike many on the spectrum.

berryblondeboys's picture

I really wish it were that easy with Henry. He is completely visual. He has never put so many foods in his mouth. Even cookies, he won't eat if he doesn't know them or they are different or whatever. So, he won't eat 'any' battered chicken, only a restaurant style chicken strip. Not my homemade, or grocery store bought - NOPE. Same with cereals - he'll eat shredded wheat and cheerios, but refuses to even try anything else . There is no ability to slowly switch something - he notices a tiny difference and will refuse it.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

to advertising?  During a favorite program? or film character?  "...dismisses food on visual inspection only."   Sounds like his only clues to food associations are visual (no smell or taste) and you might be able to influence it.

What about putting a disc or tape together that shows children trying, tasting, and eating salads and other foods.  You may have to make your own because I don't ever see kids eating balanced meals on TV.  What is it about Cheerio commercials that make them appealing... the music?  color?  social interactions? an animal?  the name of the product?  Is there something in the Ad that they can relate to?  Observe and ask them.  Watch carefully and take notes.

Pay attention to the adverts for food your child eats, use some of the same ideas in your tape with food you want them to enjoy.  That way the child could play them over and over again with their control. 

Is it an idea worth pursuing?

It is interesting how these foods (that they eat) seem bland.  Is the use of spices and other flavors too stressful for the kids?  If so leave them out. Try steamed or boiled plain without added flavorings.


berryblondeboys's picture

Henry doesn't watch TV and I wish I knew how or why he chooses food to eat. It would make my life easier. He just eyes the food and decides then and there if it's food. 99% of foods - nope, no go, but once in awhile he surprises me and decides to try it.

THings he's never tried, yet it's on the table all the time... He's even helped me cook these things for the family:

Any greens, any vegetables period (though for a brief period he ate peas and carrots), any potatoes besides french fries, any pasta, most fruits, most cookies, most cereals, most dairy, any meat except this chicken strips.


Should also say he's super tall and super big and strong and uber healthy, so whatever he's getting, he's getting right, but it's a mystery. I wish I could say it was smell, or texture, but it is solely visual inspection of the food itself - not the packaging. Though, once he knows what cereal he likes, he knows the box and will not accept an alternative as it's not THE ONE.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

My mother told me she would open cans of food and put them in the refrigerator.  I would come into the kitchen when I thought no-one was watching and eat what I could easily find.  She said I ate a whole can of black olives at age 5 that my dad left open in the fridge, that's what gave her the idea. 


Yerffej's picture

A thought on wheat, dairy, and various studies.  I believe that much of the dietary problems stem not from the original basic food but from the adulterated poisoned versions.  For example when dairy intolerance is discussed, the reference is to homogenized and pasteurized products often combined with a myriad of chemical additives.  These are live foods that have been converted to chemically altered dead foods.  That is no longer any dairy product that a cow would recognize. 

As for wheat it is much the same scenario.  Highly processed wheat berries made into a product using but a portion of the original wheat berry and often chemically processed.  That is not wheat.  Wheat is a seed containing germ, bran and endosperm with a host of vitamins and minerals.

Make whole wheat bread using sourdough and long cool fermentations.  If you are going to consume dairy products....find a cow and skip that stuff called dairy found in grocery store coolers.  A return to real food will solve an entire spectrum of the current health problems seen around the world.


kamp's picture

Gluten/casein free diet totally changed my life.. I was loocked inside my self before I startet the diet!