Most aspects of autism are controversial. However, there has been growing evidence for many years now that taking both casein proteins and gluten proteins out of a child's diet can alleviate many of the worst symptoms. It's called the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free (GFCF) Diet.
Bev Davis wrote an article about one such family at the Beckley, WV, Register-Herald web site.
“During my rages, I would flip furniture, throw things like dishes on the floor and break things and kick holes in the wall. I just couldn’t stop,” said Aiden [Lintala], 12, who’s come to grips with his symptoms of autism. “I used to have that rage every day, but now I don’t have it at all.”
What turned things around so drastically for this Beckley family? A diet free of wheat and dairy products.
Aiden’s mom has done extensive research on autism and other special needs. She discovered the diet with medical research and several studies that showed a high success rate with a gluten-free, casein-free diet that medical experts to have high success rates in children with autism spectrum disorders.
“This isn’t something that somebody just pulled out of the air,” Lintala said. “There is lots of research out there to back this up. At the time we started it, I was willing to try anything that sounded reasonable.”
Gradually, she withdrew wheat and dairy products from Aiden’s diet.
“At first, I saw a spike in aggressive behaviors, but after a couple of weeks, I had a different child,” Lintala said.
The diet is strict and something that is difficult for a child to adapt to. But Aiden said:
“This has changed everything completely for me. It stopped all the rage. At first, I wanted to cheat on the diet, but now I wouldn’t cheat for anything, because it really works for me,” he said.
Why does this diet work?
Medical studies show that autistic children often have what is called a “leaky gut syndrome,” and that the behaviors of some autistic children were much like those of a heroine [sic] addict.
Research shows many children with autism spectrum disorders have an overgrowth of yeast in the intestinal tract. Yeasts create microscopic holes in the gut, Lintala said. Normally, the yeast is digested, but in a leaky gut, molecules of yeast get into the blood stream before they are broken down. The substance that leaks into the body acts like morphine.
“It crosses the blood-brain barrier, and basically, the children have a morphine supply in their system. It’s not an allergy to wheat or casein. It’s more like a drug habit,” Lintala said.
Whatever the merits of that analogy are, Lintala unfortunately gives some genuine misinformation:
“Fortunately, there are lots or products that are gluten-free and casein-free, but you have to learn to read labels carefully,” Lintala said. “Sometimes, the front of the package will say something is ‘dairy-free,’ but the FDA doesn’t consider casein a dairy product, and you’ll find casein listed in the list of ingredients.”
Simply not true. The Food Allergen Labeling And Consumer Protection Act of 2004, which went into effect January 1, 2006, specifically requires casein to be labeled as a milk product.
Check the FDA's FAQ page on the Act.
FALCPA was designed to improve food labeling information so that consumers who suffer from food allergies - especially children and their caregivers - will be able to recognize the presence of an ingredient that they must avoid. For example, if a product contains the milk-derived protein casein, the product's label would have to use the term "milk" in addition to the term "casein" so that those with milk allergies would clearly understand the presence of an allergen they need to avoid.
My LI Links page has long had links to GFCF sites. The major site to go to is Gluten Free & Casein Free Diet [Autism diet].