A Life Transformed by Going Gluten Free, Casein Free and Chemical Free
My son threw things, screamed, had uncontrollable meltdowns, had severe sensory challenges, very poor social skills and never changed his diet from pretty much eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, waffles, pancakes, milk, cookies, chips, pretzels, ice cream, yogurt, and cheese. He was addicted to these foods.
Ever since his diagnosis of autism at age six, I searched high and low for help to find answers to help him. I did not want to put my son on drugs.
I read about a special diet where you remove gluten (wheat, rye, barley and cross contaminated oats) and casein (milk protein) from your child’s diet. It sounded insane! That was all that my son ate! I told everyone that he would starve if I took away all of his favorite foods. What were these crazy people thinking?
We had my son’s IEP meeting several weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday break, The director of elementary special education told us that my son did not belong at the school, not even in the SDC (Special Day Class). They said that the only place for him was at another school for moderate to severely autistic children. His father and I were shocked, but we were willing to go visit this classroom. In the room were several non-verbal, heavily stimming children. They were being rewarded with dye filled, gluten filled cereal. Later I would gasp at the insaneness of this practice for children with autism spectrum disorders. This was not the place for my son and we kindly told the director that our son would never be in that classroom. We then visited another classroom at the suggestion of the director of special education. This classroom was for emotionally disturbed children. This was better than the last, yet still, we said, “NO,” this was not a place for our son, either.
I then decided we had no choice but to try this ridiculous sounding diet. Over the four days of the Thanksgiving break we removed dairy products from my son’s diet. Within three days we saw HUGE changes in his behavior. Next we removed gluten, slowly, then permanently. The improvements were vast. The school staff was shocked. They allowed my son to remain in the regular education classroom.
I also learned about the Feingold Diet and how it was vitally important for ALL children to not consume dyes, chemicals, preservatives, and other artificial ingredients, especially those with ADD/ADHD and autism spectrum disorders, as it caused severe reactions, inappropriate behaviors, a host of symptoms and much more.
I learned that my son’s vitamins, toothpaste, shampoo, and everything else had to be GFCF/dye free/chemical free in order to get the best results. None of these "pollutants" could enter his intestinal system.
My son’s behavior improved drastically. His sensory issues practically vanished. He was able to listen to loud music, go outside without sunglasses, and sit in a room where onions were being cooked. These were things that he could never do before.
Since this incredible event occurred in our lives I have made this diet my passion. I have dedicated my life to educating parents and professionals about the terrific results possible when you change what goes into your body. The old saying, "You are what you eat," rings so true. I knew I had to write a book, to get my message out to the world! My book, The Autism and ADHD Diet: A Step-by-Step Guide to Hope and Healing by Living Gluten Free and Casein Free (GFCF) and other Interventions was published in May 2009 and continues to sell out frequently on Amazon.com and at bookstores, as more and more families need to see the same miracle that we have seen.
My son is now in 11th grade, fully included, having taken honors and AP classes. He fits right in with typical children and has friends. He receives excellent grades. There are only a few minor accommodations that he receives, as he still has some processing issues that require a bit more time to complete assignments. We switched him from an IEP to a 504.
My son wants to become a writer one day. His stories, poems and other written work are strong indications that he will be very successful in his journey.
He continues to follow his special diet daily. More and more restaurants and stores are accommodating special diets and it is so much easier to locate specialized food than when we began nine years ago. I prepare GFCF meals for our family, yet not all of us are GFCF all of the time. It is much easier than many think and once you try it, it is not a big deal at all . . . in fact it will change your family's life forever!