Monday, March 21, 2011

Gluten Free Or Not Gluten Free - Autism

Good nutrition equals good health. People with autism or on the spectrum have a hard time with nutrition. Individuals who have autism have distinct likes and dislikes controlled by their dysfunctional senses. This makes good nutrition a struggle, having negative consequences for the person with autism or PPD's over all health. Most people on the autism spectrum have a normal IQ. With poor nutrition, many with autism spectrum can not function normally. Persons with autism and PPD love the crunchy McDonald Chicken Nuggets and French fires--or the Tyson chicken nuggets. For many with autism spectrum disorder, this is the only thing that they will eat, which offers very little nutritional value. Also, pop, and the fizz in their mouth, is something someone with autism loves, loving the sensation in their mouth.

With the food they eat being so poor in nutritional value, and without a variety of food (nor all the groups of food), the person with autism's body can not receive the proper nutrients or calories for growth, body function, and brain function. The question is then: what do you do as a parent/caregiver, to help you loved one with autism? Gluten free has been the diet of choice to "cure" autism. This would be fine if the person with autism or PPD would eat anything and was not selective about their food. The person with autism will not eat anything; the person with autism will eat hardly anything, making it hard to impossible for people with autism and PPD to eat gluten free. The senses of taste, smell, and touch are high in the person with autism and PPD, as a caregiver tries to sneak in the foods that have no gluten; the microscope of the person with autism will analyse it and reject it.

Therefore, a parent or caregiver must choose the best route for the person with autism or PPD when it comes to diet, so the person with autism will be healthy in years to come. A celiac test will tell a person if they are allergic to gluten. Most children have this test at birth. If the test does not show a positive for gluten allergy, a gluten allergy is not present. Without a positive celiac test, "curing" autism (or anything else except a gluten allergy) with a diet that has no gluten has no scientific evidence as a cure. Going without gluten, yeast, or dairy has not been tested by science. Science (trial and studies) has not documented these diets as a cure for autism and PPD; therefore, to take these things out of the person with autism's diet only leads to poor nutrition. Individuals feel that they should try to cure autism at any cost and try anything that may work with scientific backing or not. I can not agree with this, since the cost of "hit or miss" experimentation is usually "too high" (a loss of life or damage to a body system). If a caregiver would rather have the calories and a relationship with the person with autism, a gluten diet is best. If a caregiver would rather have no calories and a poor relationship with the person with autism ,take the gluten out of the diet (fighting at the dinner table with a child/adult who does not have enough calories to support their body functions - I think they call it starvation).

Taking gluten out of the person with autism's diet, is dangerous and an unsafe fight. How could it be dangerous? Starvation is dangerous, especially in a child. With a child who has PPD or autism, they are lacking nutrition and they don't get enough calories. With this observation, their bodies are not getting what they need - so adding another restriction to their already self restricted diet may make nutrition through calories almost impossible. If a person with autism eats well and will eat everything, a caregiver still needs to see if they are up to the demands of a gluten free diet. These specialty diets cost more dollars. If a loved one is picky and puts everything through his microscope, feed him/her what you can and hope what he is eating is not effecting his behavior. Remember, gluten, dairy, casein, and yeast free do not work in all children with autism (the advice from many on the internet). Also, there is no scientific evidence that a diet free of these valuable nutrients works in curing autism and PPD.

As a medical professional, what I would choose for children or adults with autism is a good multivitamin along with a good calcium supplement, and for them to eat a balanced diet to grow strong. I would choose a soft gel supplement so I could put a pin in it and squeeze it into any beverage. I would make sure the supplement was right for the person, and that it was a whole food so it would not smell and I would not have to worry about anything else being added to my loved one's system. Feeding the person with autism calories as often as he liked would be my goal if he is a poor picky eater. As long as the person with autism received the daily minerals and vitamins he required, if he wanted candy, I give him candy. Just for the calories, using good supplements would cover the nutrition. I try to feed him every two hours and make sure he gets in at least 2000 calories a day (or the calorie amount the doctor ordered).

Nutrition is something that all children and adults need so they can function, along with calories to give them energy. The calories gives the body energy so the body has the energy to transport nutrients to live (their heart to beat, their brain to think, their lungs to breath, and their body to function). A fireplace will not work without wood or natural gas; a person's body will not work or function without the fuel of calories. Good nutrition and calories can not exist in the body without the other.

If you'd like to read more of Cheryl Zmijewski's RN work, her blog is ( ). - copyright 2011 Cheryl Zmijewski RN.

Cheryl Zmijewski RN has been a nurse for 15 years plus. She has a son who has autism spectrum disorder. Good nutrition and developing talents in people with autism, spectrum disorder, and PPD, is what her blog is about. Her blog exploring autism is:

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