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The "Specific Carb Diet" for Children with Autism and Aspergers

The Specific Carb Diet was developed by Dr. Sidney Haas (a New York City pediatrician) who used it successfully to treat people with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

Dr. Haas' theory was that carbs (which are forms of sugar) feed the bacteria and yeast in the intestines, which causes an over-abundance of bacteria and yeast. He believed that this bacterial overgrowth prevents (a) enzymes on the intestinal cell surface from functioning and (b) the proper digestion and absorption of carbs. This would cause the carbs to remain undigested in the intestines, which provides even more food for bacterial and yeast growth.

A number of illnesses can develop from this digestive balance, including celiac disease, chronic diarrhea, crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, spastic colon, and ulcerative colitis.

Many ASD children have severe gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, constipation, bloating and pain. Some ASD specialists believe these symptoms could be caused by bacteria or fungal overgrowth in the intestines, and ASD treatments – especially those recommended by alternative medicine specialists – aim to eradicate the bacteria and yeast.

The Specific Carb Diet eliminates the complex starches that feed bacteria and yeast in the intestines, which improves ASD symptoms by starving the bacteria and yeast. Killing these bad bugs not only leads to improvements in the GI tract, but also improves neurological function because many neurological problems actually originate in the digestive system.

There are two groups of carbs: monosaccharides and disaccharides. Monosaccharides are simple carbs, easily broken down in the intestines. Disaccharides are complex carbs, and individuals with poor gastrointestinal systems cannot break them down.

The Specific Carb Diet characterizes foods as "legal" or "illegal" based on their carb content. Some “illegal” carbohydrates include grains, sugars, beans, potatoes, and all processed foods (including canned vegetables). Some “legal” carbs include unprocessed meats, vegetables, fruits, and some dairy products (however, it's possible to do a casein-free version of this diet). The Specific Carb Diet already is naturally gluten-free.

Additional foods to avoid—

o Acidophilus milk
o All cereal grains
o All seeds
o Arrowroot or other starches
o Baking powder
o Bean sprouts
o Beer
o Boullion cubes
o Breaded or canned fish
o Buttermilk
o Canned fruits
o Canned vegetables
o Carob
o Carrageenan or pectin
o Chickpeas
o Chocolate
o Coffee
o Coffee substitutes
o Commercially prepared sour cream
o Commercially prepared yogurt
o Corn or maple syrup
o Cornstarch
o Fava beans
o Flour
o Flours made from legumes
o Ice cream
o Instant soup bases
o Instant tea
o Ketchup
o Medication containing sugar
o Milk or dried milk solids
o Molasses
o Mung beans
o Parsnips
o Potatoes
o Processed cheeses
o Processed meats
o Refined sugar
o Seaweed
o Smoked or canned meat
o Soybeans
o Soymilk
o Yams

Foods to eat—

• Natural cheeses
• Homemade yogurt
• Fresh, raw, or dried fruits
• Fresh or frozen meats, poultry, fish, eggs
• Fresh and frozen vegetables and legumes
• Dry curd cottage cheese

Be aware that ASD symptoms may not improve right away due to the profound changes taking place in the digestive tract. Also, many parents report significant worsening of symptoms at key points in the diet that they attribute to yeast die-off.

A survey from the Autism Research Institute shows that the Specific Carb Diet can be very effective overall in treating ASD symptoms. In looking at overall ASD diet approaches, the survey asked 278 parents whose children were following the Specific Carb Diet if it worked. A total of 69% said it had improved ASD symptoms …24% said it had no effect …and 7% said it worsened symptoms. Many parents said they had tried other ASD diet approaches, but the Specific Carb Diet proved to be the key, even in the absence of other ASD treatments.

Although the Specific Carb Diet is somewhat restrictive and difficult to follow, many mothers/fathers have reported significant gains in their kids with autism and Aspergers. Unfortunately, many parents don’t stick with the diet long enough to find some benefits in it. It is after all a fairly simple diet: no starch or refined sugars. But that simple statement requires a complete change of life style which, in turn, requires a great deal of determination. The Specific Carb Diet is more difficult to follow than the GFCF diet, and most parents find they must prepare virtually everything at home.

More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


Anonymous said...

In your honest opinion? Sure we know about zappos...but who else?

Anonymous said...

Our stomachs need a specifically balanced fauna of bacteria and yest to function. There are conditions (like the ones this article talks about) that are caused by the absence of a properly balanced fauna. In order to avoid cramps, constipation, and irritable bowel problems, I need to take pro-bionics and yogurt. I don't believe this diet is something to follow.

Anonymous said...

We are currently on the SCD with our 2 year old little girl. A organic acid urine test showed her body producing 4 strains of yeast (this only showed up in the OAT test, blood and stool came back fine). She has never been on an antibiotic, so this is just something she produces & her body can't control.
The yeast is so bad her liver is shutting down. She was on anti-fungal treatment for a year & they helped for a while... Not for long though.
If this diet works, we could save her from a liver transplant, or worse. If your diet is fine with added probiotics & yogurt, that's great! But, please don't dismiss a diet simply because it wouldn't benefit for you.

Anonymous said...

I really hope that this diet will help your child. I'm biased by horror stories of parents putting their child on one of many 'Asperger' diets, only to have it cause a medical problem.

Perhaps, I should have said, 'I don't recommend this diet - unless your physician has done test and agrees with it'.

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…

Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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to read the full article...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...