Autism, Gluten-Free Diet and Celiac...HELP!

Joined Nov 29, 2001
My favorite cousin (don't tell the rest of them) has a son who was diagnosed with Autism. She's seeing a nutritionist who has prescribed a very strict regimen of gluten-free foods. She has 2 other children and tries to accommodate them all by preparing different foods for them so they don't have to sacrifice their favorite goodies.

This is completely new territory for me and I'm hoping nutritionists and people with specialized knowledge of this type of diet will step up and lend a hand. Does the gluten-free thing equate to "celiac" concerns? I've heard the term "celiac" bandied about but never had occasion to know exactly what it referenced.

If anyone knows of websites where one can get gluten-free recipes or diets that seem to be helpful to autistic children, please share. If you know of a really effective website that deals with autism in general, I'd appreciate that too. And more information is better than less here, so don't hold back! I don't mind chasing down any lead to help my cousin.
Joined Sep 21, 2001
My wife is a social worker who works with developmentally disabled individuals, including persons with autism. According to her, diet is not as effective as hoped in helping people with autism. She has mentioned some therapies that ARE effective and I will post some additional info later on. According to her, parents of autistic children are so desperate for a "cure" that nutrition therapy has been tried a a course of action with many of her clients and has no scientific data to show any positive results. Also she says that people with autism tend to be picky eaters in their own right which further compounds the difficulty of a diet therapy.
According to my wife, EARLY INTERVENTION and INTENSIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY is the key to successful treatment of autistic children. This is even MORE work than cooking a special diet.....My heart goes out to your cousin.
Joined Aug 11, 2000
My 14 year old has autism. Diet does matter to some. James' cognitive level bottomed out and his fits increased with intensity when he had dyes, sugars including too much fruit, MSG....OJ would set him off within 20 minutes. Peppermint candy would send him into a knock down drag out. Milk/dairy has been dramatic for some, not mine.
Your cousin will need all the support she can get. It is grueling. Build a network not just for her and her son with autism but with her other children.....
Strange I was just thinking of throwing out years of accumulated information. E-mail if you want to put her in touch with me, I'll be glad to talk to her.
Joined Nov 29, 2001
She explained the gluten thing by saying, "Their bodies digest gluten and it becomes like morphine in their system." I have copied and pasted all your replies (thus far) to an e-mail to them, including all the referenced websites and text. I can't tell you how much I appreciate any feedback. It's always best to speak to people who have been there or have a link to those who do - or have been educated in the subject by one circumstance or another.
Joined May 30, 2002
celiac disease is a gastrointestinal disorder that is modified by consuming gluten-free foods. It is akeen to a food allergy.
While I know next to nothing about autism, it appears that in its case gluten, as a nutritional substance or its metabolites, are able to trigger bad neural signaling which leads to the suffering of the autistic individual. It has nothing to do with the absorption from the intestine: it is the inability of the body to handle the effects of the gluten/metabolites on the nervous system. I don't know why gluten would be so detrimental, but it seems it is an individual reaction, and as such will be figured out by trial and error. I am infinitely sorry for your cousin as well as the other members here and wish you all heartfelt courage.

Joined Jan 26, 2001
In my search for chickpea flour, I came across a website that might be helpful for you as well.

Gluten-Free Pantry

I requested a catalog and they seem very aware of the needs of people with autism, celiac, allergies, and even those with certain blood types.

They offer flours, breads, mixes, cookies, snacks, vitamins, pasta, cookbooks, and also helpful resources.

Hope this helps! Now you can cook for them when they visit!!


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