Using the Gluten, Casein and Soy-Free Diet for Children with Autism

The week of September 20 is Autism Awareness Week at

holly tacaGuest Blogger Holly Bortfeld is a work-at-home mom to two children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ages 14 and 16. She home-schools her son and writes content for the Talk About Curing Autism (TACA ) site, including the popular series, “Autism-On-A-Budget.” Follow Holly on Twitter @TACAnow.

My son has been on the GFCF diet since 1998. Back then, there was little available as far as information, research or foods that didn’t taste like cardboard. Happily, you can now find an extensive array of mixes and pre-packaged foods now in grocery and health food stores, as well as online grocers.

Why should you do the diet? Because it works! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, at least 70% of children with ASD have gastroenterological problems and both published and anecdotal research shows diet to be the single-most effective treatment used with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) kids.

Almost all families who come to TACA for diet information report the same thing – “My child only eats a few foods, he’s very picky-eater.” Rarely are any of those foods protein or vegetables and almost none are nutritional. The sensory defensiveness that many ASD children exhibit is vastly heightened before the diet and texture becomes a roadblock to healthy eating as well. Once they are on the diet however, they expand their food choices to include more healthy choices, thus improving their nutrition.

The most common things parents report after their child is fully on the diet is that “he came out of the fog,” started talking, started sleeping, stopped getting sick all the time, the tantrums decreased dramatically and the diarrhea stopped.

For my son, all of those things happened but something else too, his therapies began to work. Before the diet my son had a one-on-one, in-home, 40-hour a week program for months. The problem was that he didn’t seem to know they were there. Once we implemented the diet, it was as if he woke up and said “Oh, you want me to do this? Sure, why didn’t you say so?”

Some people worry that the diet is too expensive, but the diet is only as expensive as you make it. Any diet is expensive if you buy a lot of pre-made foods. TACA has two great articles to help: “GFCFSF on a Budget” and “GFCFSF Diet on Food Stamps.”

Try the diet, you won’t regret it. Your child deserves it!

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