My nephew (10 yrs ) has aspergers and eats very little variety of food. How can his parents change this? He is quite thin and not healthy. He is low to moderate on the spectrum.
Because of their sensitivity to smell, temperature, taste and texture, kids with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism are often "picky" eaters. Some develop fetishes such as only eating beige-colored foods or foods with creamy textures. They often like very sour or very spicy tastes. Some develop chewing fetishes and as a result, they constantly suck on pens, pencils or times of clothing.
These kids also sometimes have issues with developing gastric problems such as acid reflux, hiccups, diarrhea, vomiting, or constipation. They are susceptible to celiac disease, which is caused by poor absorption of certain nutrients. The danger is that celiac disease damages the digestive system. Aspergers children frequently suffer from Dermatitis herpetiformis, which causes skin rashes and tissue damage in the intestine. It has also been shown that gluten can aggravate behavioral symptoms in those with Aspergers that are sensitive to these foods.
It becomes a challenge for moms and dads to make sure their Aspergers child gets proper nutrition. One trick that works for many moms and dads is to change the texture of a despised food. If your youngster will not eat peas, try serving pea soup. If she refuses orange juice, try orange slices. Most clinicians believe that the less you indulge food fetishes, the less entrenched they become. If an Aspergers child creates a rule that "no foods can touch on my plate," it can easily become a lifelong rule if moms and dads do not intervene.
One promising food therapy is the "Gluten-Free Casein-Free Diet" or GFCF diet. The theory behind it is that a youngster with Aspergers cannot digest casein (found in dairy) or gluten (found in grains). It is true that undigested molecules of these substances frequently show up in their urine samples. These amino acid chains (called peptides) affect neurological function and can worsen a youngster's symptoms. Peptides may have an opiate effect on some kids.
Moms and dads begin the diet by first eliminating either the casein or the gluten food group. No gluten means no bread, barley, rye, oats, pasta, all kinds of flour, food starch, biscuits, cereals, cakes, donuts, pie, pretzels, pizza, croutons, and even crumbs stuck in the toaster. You can substitute gluten-free products. Next, you eliminate all dairy products including milk, cheese, goat's milk and cheese, ice cream, yogurt, most margarines, puddings, and so forth. If you eliminate the dairy group, you may have to give your youngster calcium supplements. You also need to cut out "trigger foods" including chocolate, food colorings, caffeine, and peanut butter. The GFCF Diet website offers all kinds of resources for moms and dads such as cookbooks, food products, and DVDs.
Many moms and dads believe that the GFCF diet really helps their kids. In an unscientific survey of over 2000 moms and dads who tried it, most saw significant improvement and five reported "miracles."
Research into diet and vitamin therapy for kids with Aspergers is very sketchy at this point. Nevertheless, many moms and dads try them. One scientific study of alternative therapies found that over half of all moms and dads of kids with autism spectrum disorders have tried diets, herbs or vitamin therapy and 72% felt they were worthwhile. Many moms and dads swear by the GFCF diet, others prefer the Feingold diet or megavitamin therapy. You can buy supplements of herbs and vitamins specifically made for kids with Aspergers. Such supplements often include calcium, fish oil, omega -3 -6 or -9, vitamin B-6, HNI enzymes and DMG or dimethylglycine. If you use these diets and therapies, the best thing to do is to keep written records of how often your youngster tantrums or exhibits other behaviors. This way you can tell if the therapy is working.
There have been a few scientific studies of the GFCF diet. In one three-month study of fifteen kids ages two to 15 years old, there was no difference between the kids who followed the diet and those who did not. However, researchers at the Loma Linda Medical Institute in California concluded that the diet was mostly helpful and improved nonverbal cognition, but that more double blind studies are needed.
Many moms and dads have tried the GFCF or Feingold diets and found that they were not worth the effort. These diets make it extremely hard to buy regular grocery foods or to eat in restaurants. If there are other kids, you end up cooking different meals for them. Trying to keep to the diets causes parental burnout and that may not be worth their benefits.
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