About the low sugar, gluten & casein free diet:
I decided to put my son on the low sugar gfcf diet about 7 months ago. I heard about gfcf(gluten free, casein free) diet from multiple people but i used to be a bit sceptical if it comes to alternative treatments. Not anymore. Before i started i've read a lot about 'leeky gut syndrome' and how this diet suppose to help him. I found this description on one of the websites:
'One theory is that children with autism are unable to fully break down casein and gluten and have increased intestinal permeability, or "leaky guts," so the undigested or partially digested proteins leak through the intestinal walls and into the bloodstream. When they do, the proteins may reach the brain and can lead to problems with behaviour, speech, and social skills. Many doctors don't believe that "leaky gut" syndrome exists. Another theory is that children with autism may simply be in pain and discomfort because of an unknown intolerance to gluten and casein. And yet another is that when those proteins are gone from the diet, kids tend to feel better (and even sleep better), so they're more alert, get more out of therapies, and make greater progress.'
No one knows yet why this diet helps autistic children but i know one thing for sure. Healthy diet is CRUCIAL in autistic child's life. If your doctor tells you that diet has nothing to do with autism then you should probably change your doctor. If you give to a neurotypical child unhealthy food like crisps, fizzy drinks or fast food you can notice their lack of energy, they are more sleepy than they should be and its harder for them to focus. If you give them sugary snacks they will be hyper and they will also have a shorter attention span. So if you have a child with autism that has a short attention span, finds it hard to focus on one activity and they are hyperactive anyway, why would you give them the food that makes their behaviour even worse? Lack of certain vitamins and iron can also have an impact on how your child behaves. The best you can do is to take your child to the doctor and check their blood for any deficiencies.
Another important thing is to read the labels. Nowadays a lot of products are packed with artificial colours, flavourings and preservatives. They work like a poison for a child with autism. Cooking from a scratch or buying organic whole foods is a way to go.
Some parents i talked to said 'oh i don't have a time to cook'. There are a lot of healthy snacks or quick healthy meals ideas on pinterest. I must say pinterest definitely saves my life sometimes :) Some parents say 'my child only eats buns with cheese and if i took them away he would starve'. I have a young child and even though he is a picky eater he can still be flexible sometimes if it comes to trying new foods but I know that food is a bigger issue for mothers of older children. But i also know a lot of parents who managed to put their older children with autism on a healthy diet. Some are on gfcf diet, some on gfcfsf diet (soy free) and some on 'organic food only' diet. It doesn't hurt to try. If it works then it works if it doesn't then at least you can't say you didn't try. I started from tricking my son who loves chocolate into eating nakd 'chocolate' bars. They are made with nothing except dates, raisins, cashew nuts and cocoa powder. He could smell the chocolate, he could taste the chocolate so he was happy. He had no idea that what he was eating was only healthy stuff(especially cashew nuts that are very good for the brain!). Even if you just cut the sugar from your child's diet you will definitely see the change in their behaviour. Believe me, it is worth it.
The changes i noticed in Tristan:
Tristan was a good sleeper, didn't cry much and tried to babble until his 12months regression had started. After he turned 1 he stopped babbling and started screeching/screaming. He cried everyday from 4pm-8pm(his bedtime) and he used to be awake every night between 12pm-2am. He stopped giving the eye contact and didn't seem to notice anyone who was trying to play with him or was in the same room with him. He didn't show any affection to anyone. Even when he hurt himself he wouldn't run towards someone for a hug.
I started gfcf low sugar diet in January. We didn't have to wait long for the first effects:
-By the end of the January he started babbling again
-after a week he has had a first solid poop since he was born(even if someone doesn't believe this diet helps with the behaviour it definitely helped with what was going on in his stomach)
-he started giving more eye contact
-he started sleeping throught the whole night again without waking up
-no more evening crying
-he started being more focused
-he can sit or lie down for more than a minute (he used to be on his feet from the moment he woke up till the moment he went back to bed)
-he is more calm
-he shows affection(he started holding his hands up to be picked up, he loves to hug people and sometimes he even falls asleep in their arms)
-he is trying to communicate(he holds your hand and pulls you towards something he wants)
Some of these behaviours like holding someones hand and trying to communicate i believe he would develop anyway but i don't know how long it would take him to do it. Now when he is more calm and focused it is definitely easier to teach him new things.
This is all i would like to say for now. I understand some people might not believe in this diet but i know this is the best option for him. I got my child back and i couldn't be happier.
*If you do wish to make any changes in your child's diet you should always consult it with their doctor or dietitian first