You can’t help but hear about autism in the news today and for the past several years. There’s good reason why too. According to Autism Speaks, an advocacy group for children suffering from autism and their families, autism is the fastest growing, development disability in the United States with more children being diagnosed this year than AIDS, diabetes, and cancer combined.

If you have children you probably want to know how to protect them from this life changing diagnosis and what signs indicate a potential problem. One of the first things you want to understand is that autism impacts one in every one hundred and ten children and boys are four times as likely as girls to be diagnosed with autism.

One of the first items up for discussion is what causes autism.

Autism: A Basic Understanding

First let’s start with what it is. Autism is used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders or (PDD.) Here’s a list of PDD’s:

Common Pervasive Developmental Disorders or PDD

  • Asperger’s Syndrome
  • Rett Syndrome
  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
  • Autism

While there is no known cause or causes for autism that have been conclusively identified, there are some theories as to what can cause this type of condition.

One of the ideas is that there are genetic components in existence that underlie autism. This alone can be the cause of autism but another theory is that the combination of genetic components and environmental factors together.

Again, there is no definitive cause or causes for autism but one thing we know for sure is that the cause identified in 1943, cold, unloving mothers, is simply not true.

Signs and Symptoms of Autism

As you learn more about autism, you’ll find there are certain behaviors common amongst afflicted children. Let’s look at some of the most common behaviors associated with autism:

  • Need for repeated rituals
  • Repetitive and compulsive behaviors
  • Repetition of certain motor activities
  • Tantrums

The repetition of motor activities is often the viewable symptoms of autism. Some of these include:

  • Head banging
  • Hand or limb flapping
  • Spinning
  • Body rocking
  • Flicking
  • Scratching
  • Tracing
  • Feeling textures
  • Tapping
  • Teeth grinding
  • Grunting
  • Yelling

Diet and Autism

There are many treatment options available for autism. From behavioral therapy and counseling with the entire family to medications and diet there are many families who report much success with following a certain plan to treat autism.

Let’s focus on diet and autism. On the heels of research studies coming out of the Autism Research Institute, many community leaders including families and doctors are advocating a gluten free and casein free diet for helping with autism.

In fact, families, researchers, and doctors have reported mild to dramatic improvement in autistic symptoms when a gluten free and casein free diet are followed.

Gluten proteins are found in wheat and starches while casein proteins are found in milk and milk products such as cheese, cream, butter, yogurt, ice cream and whey.

In addition, researchers have been finding that people who suffer with autism may have an impaired immune system response to gluten and casein which produces peptides. These peptides act like an opiate in the body of the afflicted person resulting in the strange, often off beat behaviors they exhibit.

A researcher at New Jersey’s Medical School’s Autism Center found that autistic children were more likely to have atypical responses to milk and gluten than normally developing children.

Advocates of this theory of gluten, casein, and autism advise parents and sufferers to put themselves or their children on a gluten and casein free diet. They suggest taking milk away first then one month later removing all gluten products. The body will rid itself of stored milk quicker than gluten. Keep track of behavioral changes as you eliminate one of these then the next. Experts recommend staying on this diet for at least six months to determine its effectiveness.

In addition, autism has been shown to improve when certain key nutrients are found in abundance in the diet.

All Natural Treatments and Autism

Everyone with autism has a different chemical makeup, a different body. It’s vital to not give up on one approach if you don’t see improvement. According to research from the Autism Research Institute autism sufferers have seen improvement with the addition of certain vitamins and minerals in their diets.

This research is directly obtained from parents of children with autism who report their levels of success with certain pharmaceutical as well as all natural therapies for treating autism.

Here is a list of the nutrients most shown to improve autistic symptoms according to reported information from 1,297 parents of children with autism:

Reported Successful All Natural Treatments for Autism

  • Cod liver oil
  • Colostrum
  • Chelation detox
  • Digestive enzymes
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
  • Melatonin
  • B12
  • B6
  • Zinc

(See here for complete study details.)

If you have a child suffering with autism (and a family struggling through too,) don’t despair. There are many new research studies coming out to support dietary treatments as being successful to effectively manage and treat autistic symptoms. Don’t be afraid to try these methods out as they deliver considerably less side effects as do traditional pharmaceutical treatments, they are more affordable in most cases, and parents are experiencing high rates of success using them.

Action Steps:
If you suspect your child has autism or another PDD it’s vital to get a diagnosis from your doctor.
Once confirmed, work with your health care practitioner to treat autism using the least invasive therapies and drugs.
Have your child tested to see if they have an allergy or sensitivity to gluten or casein.
Proceed to implementing a gluten free, casein free diet.

Sources:

Summary

Government officials report that the incidence of autism is growing by 10-17% each year afflicting four times more boys than females. Although the causes of autism cannot be found definitively, more all natural type treatments are emerging as successful in dealing with autism symptoms. If you or someone you know has autism (or a child with it) this is a must read article for you to discover hope.