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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query diet. Sort by date Show all posts

Yeast-free, Gluten-free, Casein-free Diet Plan for Aspergers Children

Aspergers (high functioning autism) is a developmental disorder, which was first described around 1940, about three years after the introduction of the first main commercial antibiotics (i.e., sulfa drugs). As antibiotic usage grows, so do rates of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Aspergers is really a disorder of the antibiotic era. Why? Simply because antibiotics help the yeast Candida albicans grow within the intestinal tract. Candida albicans makes toxic chemicals, which hurt the developing brain.

The yeast Candida albicans can be discovered inside of our intestinal tract, mouth and in the female genital tract. Occasionally this yeast overgrows and the doctor recognizes this overgrowth of yeast as a yeast infection of the female genital tract or in the mouth, where this infection is commonly known as thrush.

Bacteria are also resident inside the intestinal tract, sharing space with the yeast. Antibiotics kill bacteria, not yeast. After the use of antibiotics, the yeast grows to fill in the space left by the removal of the bacteria. Yeast makes chemicals which kill bacteria, which enables the yeast to grow at a greater level, even after the antibiotics have been stopped.

Yeast makes numerous chemical compounds which are then picked up and absorbed into the body. These compounds are quite toxic to the nervous system. These compounds include toxic alcohols and acetone, as well as the powerful nervous system poison hydrogen sulfide. Alcohols depress and slow the nervous system and acetone causes coma. These chemicals slow the brain down to ensure that the brain no longer works properly. These chemicals ought to be cleared by the liver so that these chemicals by no means reach the brain. Nevertheless in some individuals, these chemicals are apparently not cleared, reach the brain, and cause mental symptoms.

Slowing of the brain, especially in speech areas has been found in brains of Aspergers kids. Alcohols are well known to disrupt brain development. There are also chemicals in the diet which slow the brain down. Barley malt, the raw material for generating beer, contains twenty chemicals which slow the brain down. Vinegar also contains such chemicals.

The mixture of chemicals from internal yeast and from food could partially account for the finding of the brain slowing in Aspergers kids. The essential reason to take a look at yeast as a main contributor to Aspergers causation is that yeast is effortlessly and safely treatable.

The method to reverse this yeast problem would be to take the anti-yeast drug nystatin. This drug is not absorbed and kills the yeast living in the intestinal tract. Then the yeast can no longer make the toxic chemical compounds. Second, the diet contains numerous foods which include yeast compounds. Some of these yeast chemicals are toxic to bacteria and will clear space for the yeast to grow once more. If these yeast chemicals are left within the diet plan, nystatin will not do a lot simply because the yeast keeps growing back. To treat yeast, these foods should be removed from the diet. Removal of these dietary yeast goods enables nystatin to kill the yeast without the yeast growing back. Malt contains chains of sugar molecules, which most likely inhibit the body's immune method. This inhibition makes it tough for the immune system to fight Candida. Malt must be removed to clear Candida.

Fortunately, simply because nystatin isn't absorbed, nystatin causes no side effects except for a bit of nausea. Consequently there is no risk to this therapy. The diet plan for Candida issues consists of removing fermented foods from the diet plan. The worst offenders are alcoholic beverages and non-alcoholic beer, vinegar, barley malt, chocolate, pickles, soy sauce and aged cheese.

Nearly every youngster who has followed this anti-yeast therapy has improved. Kids who can speak usually speak better and more often. Kids under 2½ who can talk a little can be brought back to regular or near normal. Behavior and sleep all enhance. Kids are calmer and easier to teach.

Gluten Free / Casein Free Diet—

Where does the gluten free casein free diet fit in? This diet comes from research on schizophrenia, in which these gluten and casein protein fragments were found within the urine of schizophrenic patients. Similar urine profiles had been later found within the urine of Aspergers kids.

The role of opioids in Aspergers is as follows. Milk and dairy include a protein known as casein and wheat contains a protein called gluten. Inside of both casein and gluten are structures that are tough for the body to digest totally. The structures or peptides remaining following digestion of casein and gluten react at particular sites in the brain called opioid receptors. These sites are so named simply because these sites are where opiate drugs such as morphine act. The internal chemicals which react at the opioid receptors within the brain are called endorphins. These peptide structures from the diet plan have several names, one of which is "opioids".

In experimental studies, opiate drugs like morphine have been found to bind to brain opioid receptors and this binding leads to decreased glucose (sugar) utilization and decreased metabolic rate. In other words structures which bind to opioid receptors in the brain slow the brain down. As already noted, the one discovery that stands up in the brains of Aspergers kids is that the brain is slowed down (metabolically less active) as shown by decreased blood flow, especially in speech areas.

Presumably these casein and gluten protein fragments also slow the brain down. This has led to the treatment of excluding casein and gluten from the diet of Aspergers kids. You will find many commercial goods available to support such treatment.

How good is the gluten free casein free diet plan? The main studies show that kids do much better in school. Some kids improve, some only modestly and some barely at all. Why? The gluten free casein totally free diet plan is not an anti yeast diet plan. The gluten free casein totally free diet plan permits some main yeast offenders such as vinegar, pickles, chocolate, peanut butter and corn. Both peanuts and corn are frequently contaminated with mold. Chicken are fed much cottonseed and cottonseed is contaminated with mold.

So if a youngster is taken off gluten and casein, but is continued on vinegar and is put on more chicken, peanut butter and corn, what will occur? Whatever benefits there are from removing gluten and casein will be taken away by adding to the diet more mold within the type of chicken, peanut butter and corn. The intestinal yeast will still be there making toxic chemicals. The youngster will show only minimal improvement and the improvement and behavior will fluctuate, based on what the youngster has eaten.

This gluten free/casein free diet is frequently recommended today as the main factor to help Aspergers kids. However, be sure implement the gluten free/casein free diet AFTER the anti-yeast diet has begun. The gluten free/casein diet plan allows eating of vinegar, pickles, along with other foods containing toxic yeast chemicals that are quite toxic to the brains of Aspergers kids. Except for elimination of malt, there is no overlap between foods eliminated on a gluten free/casein free diet plan and foods eliminated on Stage 1 of the anti-yeast diet. Malt (which is actually a specially sprouted barley product) should be eliminated on a gluten free/casein free diet plan and malt will be the number 1 item to eliminate on an anti-yeast diet. Nevertheless, too many other foods containing toxic chemicals could be left in on a gluten free/casein free diet plan, to make use of this diet plan as the only therapy.

High Dose Vitamins and Minerals—

What about high doses of vitamins and minerals? Vitamin B-6 neutralizes among the yeast chemicals and this yeast chemical takes the location of magnesium at important locations in the body. The neutralization of this chemical might explain why vitamin B-6 and magnesium are occasionally helpful. However, it's much better to clear out the yeast, so that the chemical is no longer created rather than to try to neutralize it. There are many other yeast chemicals which are not affected by vitamin B-6 and magnesium.

Moms and dads who continue the high doses of vitamins and minerals and then attempt to add nystatin often discover that nystatin isn't useful. Among the vitamins, perhaps vitamin B-6, binds to nystatin, making it ineffective. Moms and dads should not make use of the high doses of vitamins and minerals while giving nystatin.


Acidophilus is not recommended because it helps yeast grow. Acidophilus may seem to assist because it clears out another poor microorganism, Clostridia, but acidophilus does nothing for yeast. Acidophilus makes an anti-bacterial chemical. Acidophilus ought to only be utilized short-term, not long-term.

Particular Carbohydrate Diet—

Some people for their Aspergers kids attempt the specific carbohydrate diet plan. This diet plan is used for individuals with major allergic reactions. This diet is not an anti-yeast diet. This diet consists of simple food molecules which the yeast Candida can effortlessly use to grow. For fighting yeast, the specific carbohydrate diet has no location and might make the yeast and the Aspergers worse.

Yeast and the Immune System—

Why can the body's immune system not clear Candida? The Candida has many tricks to evade the body's immune method. The immune method then calls within the reinforcements. These immune cells attack the yeast and create the signals for inflammation. Inflammation is really a defense, like a wall to keep out the Candida. The Candida is still there, which indicates the inflammation remains.

Within the intestine, this continued inflammation leads to Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Occasionally these immune cells circulate and discover yeast cells in other locations. There is yeast on the skin. Again the yeast is evasive and also the immune cells generate the signals for inflammation. The yeast is not cleared and also the inflammation remains. This leads to skin issues from itching and eczema to psoriasis.

The Candida has also evolved to look like our own cells. Candida has the body's own connective tissue receptor on it, which it uses to anchor itself into our tissues. Sometimes the immune cells, as they attack the yeast, attack anything which looks like the yeast.

What else looks like the yeast? Body cells which have the connective tissue receptor. This attacking of body cells leads to "autoimmune diseases" such as numerous sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. In these diseases, the body's immune method appears to be attacking the body's own tissues. The immune cells are attacking the yeast and then attacking anything which looks like the yeast.

The yeast chemicals slow the brain down. The gut has its own brain to make certain all of the food goes through the intestinal tract at the right rate. What will happen if yeast chemicals put the gut's brain to sleep? The result will be constipation, sometimes very severe. Diarrhea is the body's attempt to clear the yeast. The diarrhea could be present at the exact same time as the constipation, which is why they are able to alternate.

What occurs if the yeast chemicals slow down the body's nerves and put them to sleep? Then the youngster can't really feel anything or absolutely nothing feels correct. The hardest parts of the nerves to numb up are the parts which carry discomfort. This is why light touch, rather of feeling pleasant, now feels painful. If the nerves are numb, occasionally pain feels better than absolutely nothing at all. This is why these kids bang their heads. Even the discomfort feels better than numbness.

The lack of correct sensation in the mouth is a reason why these kids can become picky eaters. Foods, especially new ones don't feel correct to them. The picky consuming improves with anti-yeast treatment.

Sleep Problems—

Why do Aspergers kids have such trouble sleeping? There are numerous chemicals which put their brains to sleep. But the brain doesn't wish to go to sleep from these chemicals. How does the brain fight these chemicals? The brain stays awake. When the chemicals are removed, kids sleep much better. These chemicals also cause headaches and abdominal pain.

Melatonin is really a natural hormone made within the brain when it's dark. Melatonin is really a signal for individuals to go to sleep. For unknown reasons, Aspergers kids don't appear to make enough melatonin or maybe they make enough, but do not respond to it, so they stay awake for lengthy periods of time when others could be asleep.

Giving melatonin at night is helpful in promoting sleep. Make sure to obtain a brand that contains only melatonin, and isn't mixed with vitamins or other substances. Some brands may also contain other allergens, like wheat or dairy or casein. Search for melatonin mixed in powdered rice. Begin with 1/2 capsule (about 1.five mg.) mixed in a little quantity of food, given at bedtime, preferably when it's already dark. Melatonin isn't a sleeping pill and does not act like one. You'll not see the child drop off suddenly to sleep. Rather, it promotes natural sleep.

Antibiotics and Aspergers—

It's better to steer clear of giving antibiotics to kids who have yeast problems because the antibiotics help yeast grow. However, in case of serious illness, you need to be guided by your physician. How does one avoid giving antibiotics to kids? Kids who're treated for yeast usually have fewer infections, and those that they've are much less severe. Why?

Back within the days before high tech, researchers asked a lot simpler questions. They asked whether Candida and tuberculosis like one another. Do they grow better together? The answer is yes. Candida's capsule assists tuberculosis to grow. This kind of experiment has been carried out with other infectious microorganisms and yeast assists other poor microorganisms to grow. Candida helps the microorganisms at the back of the mouth to grow and to grow back after antibiotics. The Candida helping the bad microorganisms is why kids get ear infection after ear infection.

IEP Containing Dietary Restrictions—

An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is usually developed for kids who qualify for special education under federal law. If your youngster has an IEP and is following a specialized diet, the IEP should contain information that makes the entire school aware of the dietary restrictions. In the IEP, designate in the appropriate place that your youngster is on a special diet for his condition that necessitates the IEP.

Here is an example of “dietary restrictions” noted within an IEP:

[Child] is on a special diet to treat his/her__________.

[Child] may only eat foods that are sent from home.

If other foods are available in school as treats or snacks, [Child] may eat the following: [list all of the foods your youngster can eat].

Staff may not supplement [Child's] diet in any way, as treats, incentives or for any other reasons, without first obtaining parental consent, unless the food is listed above.

Staff shall inform parent as much as possible about upcoming parties, treats, school projects, etc., involving food, so parent can send in appropriate treats for [Child].

[Child] may not share or trade food. Staff must supervise [Child] during snack and meals to ensure that he/she eats safely. Any deviation from [Child's] diet will likely result in severe behavioral symptoms, which may include: kicking, hitting, biting, head banging, pinching, scratching, grabbing, stomach pain, head pain, lack of cooperation, hyperactivity, lack of concentration [list any other that you have experienced].

Staff shall be trained and made aware of the dietary restrictions and the [Child's] diet. If [Child] eats something that he/she is not supposed to eat, which results in one or more of the behavioral problems listed above, the school will not suspend or expel him/her, because such behavioral problems are a direct manifestation of [Child's] condition of _______________.

Does the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet Actually Work for Kids on the Spectrum?

"What are your thoughts on the GFCF diet for children with AS?"

It has been suggested that peptides from gluten and casein may have a role in the origins of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), including Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA), and that the physiology and psychology of these disorders might be explained by excessive opioid activity linked to these peptides.

Gluten and casein are getting a lot of attention in the ASD community and from physicians in the biomedical movement. Some moms and dads, physicians and researchers say that kids with AS and HFA have shown mild to dramatic improvements in speech and/or behavior after these substances were removed from their diet. Some also report that their kids have experienced fewer bouts of diarrhea and loose stools since starting a gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet.

Gluten and gluten-like proteins are found in wheat and other grains (e.g., oats, rye, barley, bulgar, durum, kamut, spelt) and foods made from those grains. They are also found in food starches, semolina, couscous, malt, some vinegars, soy sauce, flavorings, artificial colors and hydrolyzed vegetable proteins.

Casein is a protein found in milk and foods containing milk (e.g., cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream, whey, some brands of margarine). It also may be added to non-milk products like soy cheese and hot dogs in the form of caseinate.

There is growing interest in the link between AS/HFA and gastrointestinal (GI) ailments. One study found that kids with AS born in the 1990s were more likely to have gastrointestinal problems (e.g., constipation, diarrhea, vomiting) than AS kids who were born in the early 1980s. Some young people use the GFCF diet mainly to ease gastrointestinal problems and food allergies or sensitivities.

According to one theory, some young people with AS and HFA can’t properly digest gluten and casein, which form peptides, or substances that act like opiates in their bodies. The peptides then alter the child’s behavior, perceptions, and responses to his or her environment. Some researchers now believe that peptides trigger an unusual immune system response in certain youngsters. Research has found peptides in the urine of a significant number of kids with AS and HFA. A physician can order a urinary peptide test that can tell if proteins are not being digested properly.

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Researchers continue to examine the effectiveness of the GFCF diet, which has not gained widespread acceptance in the U.S. medical community. One recent study found behavioral improvements in kids on a GFCF diet, while another study found no significant effects from the diet.

Medical tests can determine if an AS or HFA youngster has an allergy to gluten, casein and other foods (e.g., eggs, nuts, soybeans). Before changing the youngster's diet, parents should consult with a physician to make sure they are providing a healthy diet and, if necessary, nutritional supplements.

Some advocates of dietary intervention suggest removing one food from the diet at a time, so parents will know which food was causing a problem. It also is helpful to ask young people who don’t know about the dietary change if they see any improvement after a few weeks. It's often suggested to remove milk first, because the body will clear itself of milk/casein the quickest. Gluten may be removed a month after the elimination of milk. It may take up to six months on a gluten-free diet for the body to rid itself of all gluten. That is why most advocates suggest giving the diet a trial of six months.

The diet can seem like a lot of work, at first. Parents must carefully read the ingredients on food packages. Beware of "hidden" casein and gluten in ingredient lists (e.g., curds, caseinate, lactose, bran, spices, certain types of vinegar, etc.). It may be hard to locate an acceptable substitute for milk, although many AS and HFA kids do adapt to the GFCF soy, potato, almond and rice milk substitutes available. Look for varieties that are enriched with calcium and Vitamin D. In addition, many moms and dads provide vitamin and calcium supplements to their kids on the diet.

Many communities have health food stores or regular supermarkets that stock flour, bread, crackers, cookies, pretzels, waffles, cereal, and pasta made of rice, potato or other gluten-free flours. There also are online retailers that sell GFCF foods and vitamins. Also, some web sites list commercially-available GFCF foods (e.g., Heinz ketchup, Bush's Baked Beans, Ore-Ida Golden Fries). Some prepared foods originally developed for young people with Celiac Disease (a form of gluten intolerance) now come in casein-free varieties, too. To save money, some families choose to make their own GFCF foods.

Some of the foods that can be eaten on a GFCF diet include:
  • amaranth
  • beans
  • buckwheat flour
  • corn
  • eggs
  • fish
  • fruits
  • meat
  • nuts
  • oil
  • potatoes
  • poultry
  • quinoa
  • rice
  • shellfish
  • sorghum
  • soy
  • tapioca
  • teff
  • vegetables

Besides gluten and casein, some moms and dads report that removing corn and soy led to equal or greater improvements in their AS and HFA kids. Because soy protein is similar to gluten and casein, some diet proponents recommend removing it if the youngster seems very sensitive.

Although the theory behind the GFCF diet may appear rather peculiar in some respects, there are a number of pieces of evidence which seem to support its use on at least an experimental basis. The ideas are compatible with virtually all the accepted biological data on AS and HFA and are thus worthy of consideration.

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Here's what other parents have had to say:

*   Anonymous said... We saw big improvement. I don't see the diet as expensive. I see the diet as more expensive than wheat...but not expensive. You are raising the price you pay for bread. Not your mortgage. After a few months the modifications weren't that hard. We make bread from a mix. We use corn tortillas. We eat rice, not a lot of pasta. If you still have eczema maybe check into corn intolerance, egg, dairy (if not already removed) or soy. If no improvement suspect whatever food he really loves. Hope this helps! To me the improvement was SOOOOO worth the "learning new way to cook/eat". Yes he was PICKY! :-) 

•    Anonymous said... Big improvement on it. 1 of the books I read when looking at it talked about leaky gut, and it was best to have your child to get tested for the proteins that get leaked from the gut into the blood stream, if this wasn't happening it wouldn't work. In NZ we can't test for, but we get kick back in behaviour if having too much dairy. We found it was more dairy that affected his behaviour than the gluten. Mind you we have also removed artificial products, but I am 1 of the lucky 1's that has a child that will eat most things and enjoys fruit and veges especially green veges.

•    Anonymous said... My son(6) has been on the GFCF diet for 8 months now. We worked with a biomedical doctor named Dr. Woeller. He recommended quite a few all natural supplements to make up for the loss in vitamins. I don't think the diet alone helped much with behavior, but I do believe it has helped with his stomach problems. The vitamins have been the main source of behavior improvement.

•    Anonymous said... Personal experience: it didn't help us. Doctor: my son's doc says that he has seen very few children on whom it has "worked", so he suspects (without having studied it) that those children were gluten intolerant or sensitive, while most children wtih AS are not. It think it's worth a try to see if it works -- though it can be an expensive and time-consuming (for the parent) diet. We have actually found that eliminating food dyes helped with my son's hyperactivity (not his AS). Good luck!

•    Anonymous said... We went with a "clean" diet. Not alot of processed foods. Within 2 days of taking away milk, my son at 13 had a clearer mind. We have also gone gluten free. Yes, a very time consuming diet.

•    Anonymous said... We've done the gluten free with our kiddo when his eczema was so extreme, long before we even considered there was something else going on. We also didn't see a change in either behavior or eczema. However, lately we have been wondering about a nutritional deficiency of some sort. He probably is my most healthy eating child by nature but there are things such has his complexion, ability to heal after bites and scratches, etc that make us wonder about some sort of deficiency. Any suggestions for what to look into there?

•    Anonymous said… We've made changes in my sons diet and have seen a huge difference in him. This year at school has been a turn around from previous years. I believe that some changes in the diet can help. They put a lot of bad stuff in foods. Make the switch to organic if you can and stop buying processed foods.

•    Anonymous said… Tried gluten free diet tried preservative free and organic best results so far.... he is taking NAC and Abilify which is working wonders

•    Anonymous said… The whole reversing cureing i dont agree with but i do think in some kids change in diet can help with some issues and to a degree but it does not work in all.. pretty much same with many methods to help they do to a degree and each child reacts to each method differently but its not a cure or a reverese as the autisms is still there wither it looks less obvious or changes have happened .....

•    Anonymous said… The best cure for autism is really curing societies conformity. I believe it both genetic and environmental. We all are made from both. Problem is when we start labeling what is normal and what isn't. I'm all for better health but that includes accepting people as they are and not fixing them to suit our needs as parents or a society

•    Anonymous said… Perhaps the world shouldn't be so concerned about "curing autism" as they should be curing ignorance to difference. I would rather be surround by a world full of autism than a world full of ignorant people who don't see acceptance as a "cure" to most "problems".

•    Anonymous said… Note to skeptics: If you believe that reversing the symptoms of autism is an impossibility, do a Google or YouTube search for "reversing autism" and witness for yourself accounts from other parents who have had such good fortune!

•    Anonymous said… I'd like to know how I could have changed my daughter's diet when she first exhibited signs of ASD - as a breastfed newborn with sensory overload issues, who needed to be tightly swaddled, providing deep pressure massage? I call b*llocks on diet as a *cause*, though I accept that changes to diet might improve some issues, I do not believe for one minute autism can be reversed. I very much believe in the genetic link - my husband though undiagnosed, is pretty clearly on the spectrum, and both of my children with him are as well (they got the best of us both?). My daughter by my former husband is not, though she does have increased traits.

Please post your comment below…

How to Implement the GFCF Diet: Tips for Parents of Autistic Children

A lot has been said about the gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet and its use to help kids on the autism spectrum. There is growing interest in the link between autism spectrum disorders and gastrointestinal ailments. 
Research studies have revealed the following:
  • autistic kids were more likely to have antibodies to gluten than typically-developing kids, which may point to immune and/or intestinal abnormalities in those kids
  • kids on the autism spectrum were more likely to have abnormal immune responses to wheat, milk, and soy than typically-developing kids
  • kids on the autism spectrum were 7 times more likely to have diarrhea or colitis than children with no disorder

In a different study, researchers used survey information from moms and dads to conclude that the GFCF diet may improve behavior and GI symptoms in some autistic children.

One theory suggests that some autistic children can’t properly digest gluten and casein, which results in the formation of peptides (i.e., substances that act like opiates in the body). The peptides then alter the child's perceptions, behavior, and responses to his or her environment. Also, some researchers now believe that peptides trigger an unusual immune system response in certain children. Studies have found peptides in the urine of a significant number of autistic kids.

A theory behind the use of the GFCF diet in autism is that if a child is having GI responses to gluten and casein, the resulting inflammation can damage the lining of the intestine, thus leading to absorption of molecules that are not normally absorbed by healthy intestines. Evidence suggests that these molecules (or the inflammation they cause) may interact with the child’s brain in ways that cause significant problems (e.g., mood abnormalities, anxiety, mental difficulties) that worsen the behavioral symptoms of autism.

If your youngster has gastrointestinal problems and sensitivity to certain foods that contain gluten or casein, then the GFCF diet is worth considering. If you do decide to embark on a trial of the diet, the first thing you should do is make a list of the benefits you want to see (e.g., better sleeping patterns, less acting-out behaviors, increased ability to focus, etc.). Make this list a week before you start your youngster on the diet.  

Next, keep a diary of the behaviors or other symptoms of concern to you. For instance, if you hope the diet will improve your child’s diarrhea, you need to know exactly where you are starting (e.g., he or she has diarrhea 7 days a week). Then, continue to log relevant information in the diary as your youngster starts the diet. Two weeks later, does he or she still have diarrhea 7 times a week? If not, then the diet may be beneficial.

This procedure is called “establishing a baseline.” The problem with NOT establishing a baseline is that you and your physician are left with uncertainties about the effectiveness of the diet. This makes it difficult to decide whether to continue with the diet or not. So, take the time to establish a baseline.

In addition to establishing a baseline, you may want to discuss the diet with your youngster’s physician.  Some physicians are more familiar than others with the GFCF diet’s popularity in treating the symptoms of autism.  But, most physicians understand the dietary restrictions involved and how they interact with a youngster’s unique nutritional needs and health conditions.

Also, a nutritionist can provide guidance around the GFCF diet. Some parents believe they are providing a GFCF diet, but actually continue to offer their child foods that contain gluten or casein. These proteins can be in some foods that parents don’t suspect.

How long should you continue the GFCF diet with your child? It can take months for your child’s gut to heal with clear improvements in gastrointestinal symptoms.  So, a trial of 3 to 6 months should be enough to see the benefits. If you do continue with the diet beyond the 3 month period, your youngster should take a daily multivitamin supplement to ensure adequate amounts of recommended vitamins and minerals.

Some advocates of the GFCF diet suggest removing one food from the diet at a time so you will know which food was causing a problem. It's often recommended to remove milk first, because your child’s body will clear itself of milk/casein the quickest. Then, gluten can be removed a month or so after eliminating milk. Also, it is helpful to ask other adults (e.g., teachers, babysitters, etc.) who know your child and see him or her frequently – and who do not know about the dietary change – if they see any improvements after a couple months.

Try to find a substitute for milk that your youngster can tolerate (e.g., almond milk, coconut or rice milk). Also, you can find gluten-free flours in many grocery, specialty and health food stores (e.g., waffles, pretzels, pasta made of rice, crackers, cookies, cereal, bread, etc.). Many products are already gluten-free and casein-free (e.g., rice, quinoa, amaranth, potatoes, buckwheat flour, corn, fruits, vegetables, beans, tapioca, meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, nuts, eggs, sorghum, etc.).

In addition to gluten and casein, some moms and dads report that removing soy or corn led to equal or greater improvements in their autistic kids. Since soy protein is similar to gluten and casein, some diet advocates suggest removing it if the youngster seems very sensitive or does not improve on the GFCF diet.

Sample GFCF Diet Plan—

Week 1:
  • Monday: Hamburgers, Ore-Ida French Fries
  • Tuesday: Honey Chicken Thighs, Honey Roasted Carrots, Mashed Potatoes
  • Wednesday: Spaghetti Squash Marinara, Salad
  • Thursday: Ham, Pineapple, Green Beans
  • Friday: Catalina Chicken
  • Saturday: Turkey Chili served over Fritos, Fruit Salad
  • Sunday: Franks ‘n’ Beans, Corn

Week 2:
  • Monday: Honey Mustard Fish, Sugar Snap Peas, Rice
  • Tuesday: Tacos, Refried Beans, Mexican Rice
  • Wednesday: Creamy Penne Pasta
  • Thursday: Barbecue Brisket, Potato Salad
  • Friday: Shepherd’s Pie
  • Saturday: Red Honey Chicken Drumsticks, Peas, Mac & Cheese 
  • Sunday: Honey Orange Pork Chops, Butternut Crunch

Week 3:
  • Monday: Chicken Nuggets, Pasta Salad, Mango slices
  • Tuesday: Meatloaf, Roasted New Potatoes, Broccoli
  • Wednesday: Sweet Wine Fish, Edamame, Sushi rice
  • Thursday: Barbecue Chicken, Corn on the cob, Watermelon
  • Friday: Pork Chops with Pears, Mashed potatoes
  • Saturday: Beef Stir Fry
  • Sunday: Pot Roast

Week 4:
  • Monday: Almond-Crusted Chicken, Salad, Cinnamon Apples
  • Tuesday: Greek Wraps with Cucumber Tzatziki
  • Wednesday: Vegetable Soup, Corn Bread 
  • Thursday: Turkey Meatballs, Green beans, GFCF Rolls
  • Friday: Banh Bao, Spring Rolls
  • Saturday: Tandoori Chicken with Potatoes
  • Sunday: Lemon Chicken, Asparagus, Sautéed Mushrooms

Week 5:
  • Monday: Cajun Fish
  • Tuesday: Greek Flank Steak, Sautéed Peppers and Onions, Stuffed Tomatoes
  • Wednesday: Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Coleslaw Salad
  • Thursday: Fish Tacos
  • Friday: Green Chicken Curry
  • Saturday: Chicken and Rice Casserole, Sliced Peaches
  • Sunday: Mexican Pizza

More information on diet plans for autistic children can be found here:

Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:

Almost 2 years ago now we were at our wits-end trying to find a medication/treatment that would alleviate my son's constant anger & irritability. He has been taking Risperdal for many years & it has helped, but it wasn't a "miracle" situation that seemed to solve everything. We went GLUTEN-FREE. It is known that gluten, an un-digestable protein found in wheat & other grains, is a "poison" for the brain & body..especially for those with neurological conditions such as Aspergers or ADHD. It was our last-ditch effort. It seemed daunting because there are many things you just can't eat..but nowadays almost every store or restaurant you may go to has gluten-free foods & options. Anyway..It took a few weeks to "kick-in" but my son's anger & irritability literally WENT AWAY! His general mood was happy & at-ease rather than on a constant short fuse. His hyperactivity did not go away..but his antics became more silly & fun in nature instead of mischievous & problematic. He absolutely loves all the food too! So as I mentioned my son has other mental issues that simply going gluten-free will not resolve but as far as his general mood on a day-to-day basis, it has made an amazing difference!

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

Non-Drug Treatments for Aspergers?

"Are there any non-drug treatments for AS?"

Some moms and dads introduce specific diets for their kids with Aspergers in an attempt to improve the condition or relieve uncomfortable physical symptoms. The most widely known diet for kids on the autistic spectrum is the Gluten/Casein free diet (GF/CF diet). In this diet all wheat and dairy products are removed.

Reported effects include the reduction of any existing gut/digestive problems, improved attention, eye-contact and general behavior. The diet has many devoted followers, but all evidence at this time is anecdotal and nothing has been proven.

However, if you decide to try the diet, it is important to do as much research as possible before you start and to consult your physician. You may find your physician is not supportive as this approach is not, as yet, widely accepted by the medical profession, although some physicians may be sympathetic.

Another diet followed is the Feingold Diet which eliminates all artificial colors, preservatives, flavors, etc. and encourages fresh, natural foods.

Vitamin supplements may be used, and fish oil supplements are cited as particularly beneficial, although this is still a matter of debate. It makes sense to feed any youngster a healthy, additive free diet, and thankfully the medical profession is now acknowledging the effects of diet on behavior.

As with any other diet you may introduce to a child with Aspergers, it is wise to consult your primary medical practitioner and to extensively research it via books, the web, and through talking with other children who have used the diet.

Do not remove whole food groups from your youngster’s diet or introduce large doses of vitamins and minerals without specific medical advice.

Sensory Diets for Kids on the Autism Spectrum

"What are your thoughts on 'sensory diets' for children with high functioning autism? Do they work? How do you implement them?"

Very few moms and dads have heard of a “sensory diet” for kids with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA).  Yet, a sensory diet may be the most important thing parents can do to help their children on the spectrum get through the “unstructured” summer months. In this article, we will look at what this diet is – and how you use it:

Just as your AS or HFA youngster needs food throughout the course of the day, his or her need for sensory input must also be met. A “sensory diet” is a carefully designed, personalized activity plan that provides the sensory input that a child on the autism spectrum needs to stay focused and organized throughout the day. Just as you may chew gum to stay awake or soak in a hot tub to unwind, AS and HFA kids need to engage in stabilizing, focused activities too. Infants, younger kids, teenagers – and even grown-ups with mild to severe sensory issues can all benefit from a personalized sensory diet.

Each AS and HFA youngster has a unique set of sensory needs. Generally, a youngster whose nervous system is on “high trigger/too wired” needs more calming input, while the youngster who is more “sluggish/too tired” needs more arousing input. Qualified occupational therapists can use their advanced training and evaluation skills to develop a good sensory diet for your youngster, but it’s up to you as a parent - and your youngster - to implement the diet throughout the course of the day.

Developing a sensory diet for your child is well worth the time and effort, because the effects of this diet are usually immediate AND cumulative. Activities that perk up your youngster or calm him/her down are not only effective in the moment – they actually help to restructure your youngster’s nervous system over time so that he or she is better able to (a) handle transitions with less stress, (b) limit sensory seeking and sensory avoiding behaviors, (c) regulate alertness, (d) increase attention span, and (e) tolerate sensations and situations that are challenging.

A sensory diet is like a diet that a nutritionist may recommend for proper nutrients and calories. It is developed to provide your AS or HFA youngster with the sensory stimulation (nutrients) that he or she requires for (a) helping maintain an optimum level of arousal, (b) promoting a level of alertness needed to develop self-regulation and behavioral organization, (c) increase gross/fine motor skills, (d) increase self-care and play/leisure skills, and (e) reducing sensory defensiveness.

The qualities of the sensory-motor activities recommended below impact the nervous system and have a modulating (i.e., calming or alerting) influence on behavior. Initially, the activities need to be repeated throughout the day (3 times works best) to help your youngster maintain an optimal level of behavior.  As behavior changes, it can be determined as to how much and how frequent sensory input is needed.

A sensory diet is made up of activities from several sensory systems, each having a different effect on the youngster’s nervous system. Below are descriptions of these sensory systems and their associated sensory-motor activities:

1. The Proprioceptive System: This system receives input from the joints and muscles and provides the child with information about the position of his or her body.  This input is strongest during movement and heavy work activities and helps with the integration of tactile input. Examples of activities which provide proprioceptive, deep pressure and heavy work input include the following:
  • Arm wrestling
  • Carrying heavy objects (e.g., filled laundry baskets, large soft drink bottles, a load of books, removing wet laundry from the washing machine, dragging or carrying grocery bags from the car to the kitchen) 
  • Climbing on monkey bars, jungle gyms, or a chin-up bar
  • Crashing into several large cushions, beanbags or comforters (e.g., have the youngster dive, jump, roll, stretch and burrow in the cushions; use a crash cushion by stuffing large foam scraps into a comforter cover or into a large bag made by sewing two sheets together)
  • Have the child clean a mirror or window to help develop shoulder strength and stability
  • Hide objects in play-doh or silly putty
  • Make a sandwich out of the youngster between pillows, and add pressure as you pretend to put on pickles, cheese, lettuce, smooth on mayo, etc.
  • Swimming
  • Tug-of-war
  • Wheelbarrow walking

Ways to get heavy work orally:
  • Blowing bubbles
  • Chewy foods (e.g., fruit leather, bagels, turkey jerky, gum, taffy, etc.)
  • Crunchy foods (e.g., apple chunks, chips)

2. The Tactile System: This system is responsible for providing feedback about how something feels and where the child feels touch.  It allows the child to interpret if something is cold, hot, wet, dry, sharp or dull – and whether it is safe touch or unsafe touch. Examples of activities with tactile input (touch) include the following:
  • Cut a hole in the top of a shoe box and place different objects in the box (e.g., a spool, marbles, plastic animals, little toys).  Hide items the child wants in this box (e.g., puzzle pieces or balls to a game) and have the child find the item he or she wants. 
  • Fill a large washtub or kitchen sink with sudsy water and a variety of unbreakable pitchers, bottles, turkey basters, sponges, eggbeaters and toy pumps.  Pouring and measuring are excellent for developing the tactile system.
  • Try finger painting on a tray or mirror with paints, sand mixed into paint, peanut butter, shaving cream or pudding.
  • Offer different kinds of soap (e.g., oatmeal soap, shaving cream, lotion soap) and differently textured scrubbers (e.g., loofa sponges, thick washcloths, foam pot scrubbers, plastic brushes).

3. The Vestibular System: This system responds to motion, changes in head position and gravitational pull.  It is a very important system because of its influence over muscle tone, balance and equilibrium, posture, coordination of the two sides of the body, and the coordination or eye movements with head movements. Examples of activities with vestibular input (movement) include the following:
  • Have the child swing on a swing set lying on his or her back, on the stomach, sitting, or standing.
  • Have the child swing forward, backward, side to side, or rotating.
  • Bouncing on a ball, or jumping on a trampoline or bed is a great activity.
  • Throwing beanbags at a target while swinging is another effective activity.
  • Use slides and merry-go-rounds.
  • Wrapping the child in a blanket and unrolling him quickly (roll in both directions or down a hill) is yet another helpful activity.  
  • Bouncing on a “hippity hop” ball is good too.

These sensory diets don’t have to take a long time.  Try to do them at the same time for 5-10 minutes throughout the day – especially during the unstructured summer months. It’s recommended that they are done at least 2-3 times a day, or immediately before the child is expected to do an activity requiring his or her undivided attention (e.g., doing homework). Also, be sure to ask your youngster’s occupational therapist for more ideas.

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

Aspergers and Picky Eating


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.

My Aspergers Child: How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums

Sensory and Motor Problems in Aspergers Children

In 1944 Hans Asperger, an Austrian physician, described a group of children with normal intelligence that had significant problems in social engagement, unusual and/or restricted interest, and an abnormally strong dislike for particular touch sensations (e.g., the feel of the texture of some clothes). These children could not tolerate the roughness of new clothes or of mended socks. Bathing and having their nails cut were also times of tantrums and stress.

Hans Asperger further mentions extreme sensitivity to noise, but at other times the children would also appear to be under responsive to auditory input. He describes an incident where a child appeared to have an unusual response to pain and was said to be “thrilled” when he obtained a wound needing medical attention. Alternately, this same child was described as fearful of falling out of his chair and of fast moving vehicles on the road.

The prevalence of motor problems in Aspergers children ranges from 50% to 85%. So, at least half of children diagnosed with Aspergers will have some form of motor problem. These problems can involve both fine motor tasks (involves skills of the hands) and gross motor tasks (activities such as walking, running, postural control etc.).

Although the defining characteristics of Aspergers are problems in social engagement and restricted interests, it is apparent that motor and sensory problems can also have a major impact on functioning. Poor motor skills may limit a youngster from engaging in the typical activities of his peers. His peers may also tease him because he is awkward or clumsy. Difficulty putting thoughts on paper because of physical problems with writing can make school work a nightmare. Aspergers kids may also use excessive or unusual motor behaviors to help provide sensory information that may make them feel more comfortable.

Sensory problems, particularly those related to auditory and tactile sensitivity, can also increase the social isolation of an Aspergers youngster. The young person may avoid groups and have difficulty in noisy environments (e.g., a birthday party). Rage or meltdown behaviors to sensory events that are overwhelming to the child can occur. These behaviors may be misinterpreted by parents as purely a lack of control – or a child who just “needs more discipline.” The youngster does needs to learn strategies to control rage and meltdown behaviors, but an understanding of the possible triggers for these behaviors and an appreciation for the extra effort he must exert to control himself can make discipline more efficient and effective for both the youngster and parent.

There are several steps necessary in an assessment of sensory motor problems in Aspergers kids. The overall assessment process will be different depending on the age of the child and whether he is assessed in a school, hospital or private facility.

The first step in an assessment procedure is identification of the presenting problem. Parents who suspect that their child has a problem are usually the ones who participate in this first step. Parents should trust their instincts if they think there is a problem. They should observe and then document their youngster’s behaviors. Documentation is recommended for both the problematic behaviors and the positive behaviors exhibited by the youngster. An easy chart can be used for this purpose. After completing the chart, the parent may be better equipped to notice patterns and describe problems when she is ready to make the referral to a trained professional in the field of sensory integration dysfunction.

If the process of documentation is not the chosen method to help with identification, the parent can directly discuss her concerns with trusted specialists and professionals (e.g., teachers, pediatricians, day care providers, etc.) who know her child well. The parent can also contact a local agency that employs pediatric occupational therapists to discuss problems and whether a referral for a sensory motor assessment is appropriate.

Once the problems are identified, parents have several choices. They can take the “wait and see” approach; however, this approach is not advisable if there is a probability that sensory motor problems get in the way of the child’s everyday activities – life may only get more difficult.

Some professionals suggest trying to improve the youngster’s “sensory diet” before doing an assessment. A sensory diet would involve adding sensory activities to the youngster’s daily routine in order to help him achieve a more optimal level of alertness and attention, as well as to reduce stress. Developing an effective sensory diet that specifically addresses problems might best be developed with assistance from an occupational therapist that has knowledge and experience with Aspergers, as well as an in-depth understanding of the youngster. Sensory diet programs are usually provided after the assessment of sensory motor problems is complete. A sensory diet should not be a replacement for direct intervention.

Examples of Sensory Diet Planning—

-Behavior: Hand flapping
-Sensory Explanation: Seeking heavy work to muscles and joints
-Sensory Diet Activity: Provide fiddle toys; perform chair or wall push-ups; wear a weighted vest or blanket

-Behavior: Visual Stimulation such as finger flicking in front of eyes; over-focusing on small toys; moving eyes in odd ways
-Sensory Explanation: Multi-sensory sensitivity; Decreased vestibular processing; Difficulties with visual perception
-Sensory Diet Activity: Provide strong, varied movement input; limit extraneous visual stimuli; Perform activities that couple vision with movement: i.e. targeting from a swing

-Behavior: Excessive mouthing and chewing on non-food objects
-Sensory Explanation: Decreased proprioceptive processing, especially to the mouth; Decreased tactile discrimination, especially in the mouth
-Sensory Diet Activity: Use resistive chewy toys that the person can chew on; Use a mini-massager to the mouth area; Provide chewy and crunchy foods; Try using strong flavors such as lemon, peppermint, and cinnamon

-Behavior: Rocking in chair or seat
-Sensory Explanation: Decreased vestibular processing; decreased proprioceptive processing; strong need for rhythm
-Sensory Diet Activity: Provide a therapy ball to sit on; Provide movement breaks throughout the day; Sing rhythmical songs while person is swinging or moving; Provide a move and sit cushion or wedge for the seat (found in therapy catalogues and stores).

-Behavior: Head banging and Ear flicking
-Sensory Explanation: Decreased vestibular and proprioceptive processing
-Sensory Diet Activity: Allow regular use of a therapy ball or mini-trampoline; Provide opportunities for strong movement throughout the day; Do chair/wall push-ups; Have client engage in activities that provide strong vestibular and proprioceptive input such as swimming, skiing, hiking, biking, sailing, swinging, rock climbing, etc.

-Behavior: Humming or other vocalizations
-Sensory Explanation: Decreased proprioceptive and vestibular processing; Decreased auditory processing
-Sensory Diet Activity: Mini-massager to mouth, face and ear; Blow toys such as whistles and bubbles; Wear a walkman with calming music

-Behavior: Smelling and sniffing
-Sensory Explanation: Decreased gustatory and olfactory processing
-Sensory Diet Activity: Provide strong flavors such as lemon, peppermint, and cinnamon

-Behavior: Spinning Self
-Sensory Explanation: Decreased vestibular processing (especially in the rotary plane)
-Sensory Diet Activity: Provide very strong rotary input on a sit and spin; vary the direction and speed of movement on swings; hold hands with person while they spin in circles

-Behavior: Complains about clothing, hair washing, finger nail cutting, and the texture of food
-Sensory Explanation: Tactile defensiveness
-Sensory Diet Activity: Provide deep touch pressure to the whole body through wrapping the person tightly in a sheet or blanket; engaging in a therapeutic brushing program (monitored in direct intervention); give squeezes in between pillows; cut tags out of clothes; buy seamless socks; stick to all-cotton fabrics; give strong touch input to shoulders when giving a haircut or cutting nails; lotion massages

-Behavior: Poor eye contact
-Sensory Explanation: Visual defensiveness or sensitivity
-Sensory Diet Activity: Reduce extraneous visual stimuli; Allow person to finish talking or listening before making eye contact; show person pictures of people that will be at a party or event ahead of time if possible to help them become acquainted with a variety of faces; provide strong vestibular input and encourage interaction during the movement

-Behavior: Difficulty maintaining personal space
-Sensory Explanation: Decreased proprioceptive and vestibular processing
-Sensory Diet Activity: Provide a cushion or carpet square that delineates the person’s space; have person stand at the end of the line in school; Provide strong all-over-body proprioceptive input; Provide strong movement input on swings, sit and spin, ziplines, etc.

-Behavior: Voice volume is either too high or too low
-Sensory Explanation: Decreased auditory processing
-Sensory Diet Activity: Tape record the person’s voice to give them feedback regarding volume; provide blow toys such as whistles and bubbles; listen to rhythmical, calming music over headphones

-Behavior: Irrational fear of heights; strong aversion to movement; car-sickness
-Sensory Explanation: Decreased visual and vestibular processing
-Sensory Diet Activity: Provide chewy foods or candies in the car; Lemon drops and ginger snaps can help nausea; Provide a safe place for the person to try climbing or moving without other people present; couple vestibular activities with heavy work and stay in close proximity to person while they are moving

Once it’s clear that the problem is likely a sensory and/or motor problem, it’s important to refer to an occupational therapist to complete the screening and/or assessment. Possible sources for locating a specialist include:

• American Occupational Therapy Association
• occupational therapists in early intervention or public schools
• occupational therapy department of the local children’s hospital
• private practitioners listed in the telephone directory

Poor Sensory Processing in Aspergers Children—

When the child has a “low arousal” level, the nervous system has a decreased reaction to the sensory input coming in and therefore doesn’t react or respond as quickly, or at all, to the input. Children with low arousal level find it hard to remain alert and focused, tend to seek out a lot of input in order to better register and respond to it. They may be hard to motivate and get moving, or may be in perpetual motion.

Children with a “high arousal” level often respond to sensory stimuli with a strong response, frequently a fight/flight/fright response. They may flee from sensory input and seek a smaller, quieter space to get away from too much input, or they might scream in fright when confronted with too much sensory input.

Sometimes Aspergers children become aggressive when dealing with an overabundance of sensory stimuli and strike out against the person or object producing the input. They also may have a hard time remaining focused or calm in busier environments (e.g., grocery store, mall, social gathering, school cafeteria, etc.).

We all have peaks and valleys in our arousal levels throughout the day. However most of us manage to maintain an appropriate level of arousal to interact effectively with the environment. Aspergers children have difficulty maintaining an appropriate level of arousal, spend more time in a high or low level of arousal, and may constantly seek or avoid input to try and regulate arousal.

The following list shows some of the behaviors that Aspergers children may exhibit due to decreased ability to modulate and discriminate various sensory input. There are both “sensory seeking” and “sensory avoiding” behaviors depending on the issues. For example, one youngster might seek out messy play as a way to keep his system alert and to learn new skills, while another youngster may avoid messy play at all costs because he is “defensive” to tactile input (i.e., the child has an emotional or behavioral response to a stimulus that is out of proportion to the stimulus itself). These two examples describe tactile dysfunction; however, they are representative of two different types of dysfunction:

1. A child with “sensory defensiveness” exhibits the avoidance behaviors listed below. This child’s sensory input feels excessive to the child (e.g., sounds are too loud; smells are too strong; lights are too bright, etc.).

2. A child with “sensory aggressiveness” exhibits the seeking behaviors listed below. This child’s sensory input feels barely detectable to the child (e.g., sounds are too quiet; lights are too dim; tastes are too bland, etc.).

1. Auditory—

Seeking Behaviors:
  • Oblivious to loud noises
  • Seeks out loud music or noises

Avoiding Behaviors:
  • Covers ears around loud noises such as toilets flushing, sirens, music, vacuum, etc.
  • Displays sensitivity to high-pitched noises
  • Distracted by subtle background noises such as the hum of fluorescent lights or the refrigerator
  • Easily distracted by noise
  • Grinds teeth or hums especially in busy or noisy environments
  • Pulls at ears even though no ear infection

2. Gustatory/Olfactory—

Seeking Behaviors:
  • Licks everything
  • Seeks out very spicy or very sour foods
  • Smells everything

Avoiding Behaviors:
  • Avoids any new foods with new colors, textures, or tastes
  • Avoids foods with mixed textures – such as smooth foods with lumps
  • Displays a very strong preference for temperature of food or drink
  • Has a very limited diet
  • Prefers only crunchy foods
  • Reacts defensively to food in mouth – especially with certain textures
  • Reacts defensively to the smell of certain substances

3. Proprioceptive—

Seeking Behaviors:
  • Crashes constantly onto ground
  • Enjoys activities that provide heavy work such as hanging, pushing, pulling
  • Likes to squeeze objects
  • May flap hands a lot, crack knuckles, press hands together, or otherwise stimulate self
  • May masturbate frequently
  • Seeks out a lot of rough and tumble play

Avoiding Behaviors:

People do not generally avoid proprioceptive input as it tends to be an overall “organizing" or pleasing input to the sensory system.

4. Tactile—

Seeking Behaviors:
  • Constantly poking, pushing, or touching other people
  • Constantly touching or mouthing non-food objects
  • Oblivious to food on hands or around face
  • Oblivious to injuries to self such as bruises
  • Seeks out messy play

Avoiding Behaviors:
  • Adverse reaction to light touch experiences
  • Aggressive with other people
  • Avoids busy places
  • Exhibits picky eating habits
  • May dislike or avoid many daily hygiene activities such as tooth brushing, washing, and dressing

5. Vestibular—

Seeking Behaviors:
  • Constantly in motion
  • Jumps much of the time on beds or other surfaces
  • Loves being tipped upside down
  • Loves go-fast carnival or amusement park rides
  • Loves swinging and finds it hard to stop
  • Spins self around a lot

Avoiding Behaviors:
  • Avoids swings or playground equipment
  • Does not like the feeling of falling or doing forward rolls
  • Does not like to have head tipped backward
  • Fear of heights, elevators, and escalators
  • Fear of lifting feet off of the ground
  • Gets carsick easily

6. Visual—

Seeking Behaviors:
  • Hyperfocuses on Visual input
  • Very drawn to certain colors
  • Very drawn to television
  • Visually stimulates on objects such as lights, patterns, etc

Avoiding Behaviors:
  • Blinks at bright lights or appears sensitive to sunlight
  • Easily distracted by visual input
  • Makes poor eye contact
  • Prefers to play in the dark
  • Rubs eyes often
  • Squints when doing puzzles or other highly visual tasks

Aspergers children have a whole host of needs – and sensory integration is only one of the many intervention approaches that can benefit these children. They often require other interventions as well including:

• academic assistance
• behavioral therapy
• psychological and neuropsychological intervention
• social skill building
• speech and language therapy
• vision therapy

It is important that parents, teachers, therapists and doctors work together as a team to improve the lives of Aspergers children. Intervention ideas and activities can be shared and reinforced. The child and his family are the most important and vital part of intervention.

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

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