Age 12 yrs. old
Successful GFCF for 8 years!
Just found this site for the first time, and wanted to offer some long-term encouragement for all of you who are just starting out or who have young children on the diet. My son is now 12 years old. We first started him on a gf-cf diet 8 years ago, after about a year of dietary trial-and-error. Back then, people were just starting to make the connection between diet and autism, and I didn't actually read anything supporting what we'd done until we'd been on the diet for about a year! So we were lucky to have stumbled upon it, to have found out for ourselves that it worked without knowing why. The diet is hard, no doubt about it. But we were scrupulous once we had it all figured out -- and for my son, it's more than just gluten and casein, so we were also controlling chemical, pollen, and dust exposures, as well as other food allergies. We altered our family lifestyle significantly to give him every chance we could. We ALL went on the diet together (well, at home, at least; can't say my husband stuck to it at work!), and I think we all probably saw benefits.
Here's the hopeful part: we saw dramatic improvement in the Asperger's symptoms right away, like many of you have reported, and then over the years we've seen more subtle improvements. As my son grew older, and, gained control over his emotions and his behavior, we found that he could tolerate the occasional detour around the diet. I firmly believe that the diet/chemical controls we instituted gave him a chance to develop his own behavioral controls, gave him a bit of space to learn and practice. I know that without the diet, his whole existence was centered on fighting fears and confusion. Those days, thankfully, are behind him.
We're still careful about chemical additives and preservatives (it's hard to give in to those once you've accepted that substances like food dyes are BAD for you, period), but I've found that he can tolerate small amounts of gluten and casein on a rotational basis. During peak allergy season we tend to veer closer to a gf-cf diet again, but have learned that after 8 years of diet and nutritional therapy, he seems to have healed, or adapted, or whatever. It's just not the big life-or-death struggle for him that it used to be.
I don't think he'll ever be able to completely ignore his diet. But NOBODY would label him autistic these days. He's a happy, well-adjusted, bright, loving, funny kid. He'd like to eat the junk food that he sees in commercials, but recognizes now that feeling bad isn't worth it -- most of the time. So I'm hopeful that the responsibility for his eating habits is starting to shift from my shoulders to his. Which should mean that as far as the autism is concerned, he has a very good chance to live happily ever after.
May you all be so blessed.
Child's name: Ara
Age: 9 years
On diet: since April 05
Dad's name: Arsham
Mom's name: Ani
Ara was diagnosed to be autistic at age 3.5, never developed speech, has severe focusing issues and trouble with communication. We tried speech therapy for a long time and he started saying words spontaneously when he was 7 years old. 5 months ago we started the GFCF diet, this was recommended to us by a mother who cured both of her autistic boys with the GFCF diet. Within 4 months of starting the diet, Ara was potty trained, started reading, started saying long and sophisticated sentences, he lets us cut his hair without any problem, hand flapping has gone down to a minimum (only if he gets very excited), and he is involved with other children during games, in short he is a changed person.
Such a dramatic change in such a short time was totally unexpected, hence we are now firm believers of this diet and recommending it to every parent who has autistic child. We are also giving Ara super Nu-thera as dietary supplement and planning to do some oral chelation therapy administered by an expert. There is still a long way to go but we are confident that Ara will grow up to become a normally functioning person.
Arsam Antreasyan, PhD
Child's Name: Zach
Age: 10 years
On Diet: Since 1999
Zach was diagnosed as severely autistic at the age of 3. He had lost all speech and communication skills during normal development (until age 1.5). Six months after going on the diet 100%, he went from no speech, thru echolalia, then spontaneous speech.
We followed up with ABA, AIT, and Fast-Forward and got our little boy back. He has now been on the diet .5 years and is just completing 4th grade in a regular classroom with no aide. The school is aware he had 'neurological damage' when little and has to be on this diet to prevent further damage.
We were advised by the ABA consultant to stop the 'A' label as he no longer needed it. He still has some social delays but is continually learning and progressing.
We expect he will be a full functioning adult, needing only his diet and vitamins/supplements to keep himself healthy. I cannot tell you what happens if he goes off the diet, as we never allow this. If we go out for dinner, I take his food along and ask them to heat any parts that need heating in the microwave. I keep frozen cupcakes (Pamela's Chocolate Brownie mix with a little honey added for moistness after thawing) in the freezer at school and at church, for when a treat is needed.
When we travel, I take a small cooler with freezer packs, tape it up and label it, and pack the dry goods in a hard sided suitcase. The airlines are very cooperative as long as there are no open liquids. We even take his own popcorn to the movies. How do we do it? Since we are a large family, I try to keep the meals mostly gf/cf and modify just the starches for Zach (ie: use Prago Traditional spaghetti mix and add meat, then mix ours with cheap noodles and Zach's with Quinoa spaghetti noodles). I tried baking his bread and buns from scratch and learned I am not a baker. So I do splurge and buy Papa's Loaf bread, Ener-G buns, and use mixes (Miss Robens and Bob's Red Mill) for other starches. I take Zach with me to buy ready-made items such as cookies, and he has to finish them before I buy a different brand. This helps him to be responsible for his choices.
If you're not sure about trying the diet because it's so much work my comment is "If there's a chance of getting your child back, isn't that worth it?" Our doctor said you have to do it at least 6 months. Plus, there are lots of us willing to help. **
PS - Zach's favorite meal is French toast made with eggs and water, Papa's Loaf bread, Pam spray, pure maple syrup, Johnsonville Original Breakfast Sausages, and Dari Free milk!