Here at the Autism Treatment Center of America we believe that your child’s diet is incredibly important to their overall health and well being. Food effects how our body and brain develop and function, thus effecting how able we are to focus and interact with the world around us.
Just as we created the distraction free controllable environment of The Son-Rise Program Playroom to help interaction flourish, we suggest that you examine your child’s diet to make sure that their internal environment is also helping their interaction flourish and not working against them. You can do this by getting your child tested for possible allergens such as gluten, casein, corn, rice, and soy. We also believe that it is important to be careful about how much sugar and caffeine your child has in their daily diet.
Many children on the autism spectrum can be very picky eaters. If your child’s diet consists mainly of the above named allergens and sugar then this may be a sign that your child has a potential intolerance to the very things they are eating. If your child has an extended stomach, dark circles under their eyes, or chronic diarrhea or constipation, these could also be signs that they are having reactions to the above mentioned allergens.
The following diets are among the top autism diets of our time, Gluten and Casein Free Diet, The Carbohydrate Diet, The Body Ecology Diet and The Gap Diet, to learn about these and other diets visit nourishinghope.
If you are wanting to change your child’s diet, by eliminating either, gluten, casein, corn, soy or sugar, or want to begin one of the Autism Diets, below are a couple of pointers that may help the transition go smoother.
- Start only when you are completely ready, if you have doubts, your child will sense this, and wait until you give in and give them that chocolate cookie you know they love so much. It is important that you are prepared to go the distance. One way to do this is through your brain; thoroughly educate yourself about the diet you are implementing, or the allergens you are eliminating. Why it is good for your child? How are they adversely affecting your child? What are the positive benefits of changing their diet? It will be easier to go the distance if you know why you are placing your child on this diet and that it is in their best interest. A place to start with this is the website listed above which will also give you many other resources.
- Educate yourself about other foods you can offer your child, there are many online resources such as gluten and casein free recipes you can access. Since your child may have been restricting their diet for so long, you may have forgotten that there are many more food groups out there! There are numerous vegetables, meats, fish, and gluten free grains. Reacquaint yourself with these, as well as different ways to cook and season the food to make it super tasty.
- Make sure that the food you do not want your child to eat is nowhere to be found in your house. Remember your child is very intelligent, if it is in your house they will find it. Clean out all your cupboards.
- Explain to your child why you are changing their diet and how it will help them. Do this even if your child has yet to begin to talk to you. It is my common experience that a lack of response to our requests does not mean a lack of understanding. Our children can and are listening to us. Really explain all the whys around why you are changing their diet in a loving and excited way. Then they will know that this change is a good thing and that you are assisting and helping them feel well. Not just taking away the food they are familiar with.
- Have plenty of the new foods easily available to your child in bowls around the house. This will give your child a chance to get used to new smells and the new look of the food. It will also be easier for them to try it when they are hungry, if it is within their eyesight and grabbing distance.
- Love the food you are offering your child. If you do not like or love this new food why would your child want to try it? Think of yourself as the ambassador of the new food you want to introduce to your child. It is up to you to model how delicious and yummy the food is. Eat it in front of your child with all sorts of “over the top” I love this food body gestures and verbal statements.
- Start one at a time. If there are three allergens you want to eliminate, for instance, gluten, casein and sugar. Start with the one you think will be the easiest to remove, and then two weeks later remove the second one and so forth.