I read about it, and I am wondering, if you know more about it. I am glutein intolerant, and I am pretty sure my mom was (and because she never found out, she passed away from intestinal cancer), and I am wondering, if our high functioning autistic son might have the same problem, especially since he has other symptoms like bad dermatitis on his scalp, eczema around ears(though not as bad as, when I started him on cereals, when he was a baby). And in some ways he doesn't really fit autism at all.
Glutein intolerance mimics autism?
I don't have the answers to your questions, but I have heard for many years that there seems to be a connection between kids on the spectrum and different food sensitivities and 'gut' issues. It's definitely worth exploring.
I'm sure more experienced mamas will be along shortly to help.
The research goes back at least to the late 1960s, here is a blog about it from autism researcher Paul Whiteley.
I know and respect that some spectrumy kids have benefited from a gluten free diet. And I admire Mamas who can manage this. For YoungSon, that was absolutely not the case. He was on a clear liquid diet for 9 months, absolutely NOTHING but apple juice, white grape juice, and homemade chicken/veggie broth for 9 months. No behavior change at all. But I can't imagine any harm in giving it a try.
I have no insights to offer. I have wondered the same thing as the OP. If a gluten free diet eliminates the autism was it really autism or was it a misdiagnoses? Is it really a food allergy instead? Or if the autism improves on a gluten free diet then were all the behaviors due to the autism or were some of them due to a food allergy? It was seeing this video http://www.ted.com/talks/aditi_shankardass_a_second_opinion_on_learning_disorders.html in which the researcher discovers that a child diagnosed with severe autism is really having seizures. The child is given seizure medication and the behavior/symptoms that led to the original diagnosis and prognosis change dramatically.
I'm going to check out the blog a PP mentioned right now.
I think in kids predisposed to autism, food allergies/leaky gut may "tip them over" into autism.. but once you stop the offending food (and I do recommend that) aspects of the autism may remain, long term, or , alternately, just until the gut heals enough for the symptom(s) to dissipate.
My son has been GFCF for about 3.5 years.. diet has been one of his most successful treatments.
There are also "autism-s" .. the food allergy/leaky gut version may be one .. where other kids are not sensitive to gluten or not sensitive to dairy or their autism is in no way related to or exacerbated by food.
One other thing.. good food allergy testing is available, but you need to go to someone knowledgeable to get the good tests.. and you have to be ON gluten when they test you (if you've been off it for months you can't be tested)
My firstborn showed a lot of signs of autism to the point where I took her to see a child psychologist about it. She did toe walking, spinning, verbal stim, memorizing movies and using them to reply to conversations rather than her own words, and a bunch of other stuff. She also was an early talker and needed to be held all the time-- the therapist said those made her not autistic in technical terms. She did have some autistic-like behaviors. She was also very advanced. Did not have formal gifted testing at that time but psychologist said she fit into this category. The preschool teachers brought up their concerns about her behavior-- which I had already worried about for years before preschool- and that's why we took her in to see the psychologist.
At age 7 she was dx with Celiac Disease. She gained a lot of weight quickly, and slowly the behaviors went away, and after a couple of years or so it was no longer a concern to us. She's fine. Almost 13, doing well in every way. In Honors classes, has friends, and doing great. I really think she was malnourished and that contributed a lot to her behavioral development.
Maybe related-- her first cousin on dh's side IS autistic, fully on the spectrum and requiring lots of support. Dh's side has the Celiac disease and I have suspected based on many symptoms that his sister and mom have it, too. My SIL put my nephew on the gluten free diet as recommended by his teachers, and his behavior has improved a lot. But, he is still clearly autistic.
There is absolutely no definitively accurate test for gluten intolerance other than elimination/challenge. Not even the biopsy for Celiac is conclusive. I regularly attend training for doctors and licensed medical workers (usually of a holistic nature) and it is discussed ad nauseum about the various pitfalls of each.
I agree that lots of other things can produce "autism-like symptoms" much the same as many things can produce "ADHD/ADD-like symptoms". Gluten intolerance is one of them. Some kids bodies don't break the proteins down well enough and they land on the nerve endings much the way opiates do--and the kids behave similarly. Sometimes it is leaky gut. Sometimes it's an enzyme deficiency (the same one breaks down both gluten and casein). Sometimes it's a kid whose detox channels don't function well (for any number of reasons) and they're unable to flush out toxins (like stuff in the vaxes) before they get another round--and it gets piled up and causes damage before they can flush it out (I'm thinking specifically of metal sensitivity--I have one of those--but it could be all kinds of things). These are just a few. Does that make it autism? I'm thinking not.
My son had a physical reaction to gluten but we didn't see a behavioral one. We DID see responses to other food irritants in a rather profound way.
And once you remove that which bogs them down, there is the matter of healing and then catching up on "lost time". I think for us, therapy was really helpful once my son was able to receive and engage in it.
I've recently been digging into this type of research on the internet. I've come across two really good books. Nourishing Hope for Autism by Julie Matthews and also Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies by Kenneth Bock. I looked at the previews on Amazon.com and was very impressed. It really explains it so much better than I could. But it isn't just gluten sensitivity. It talks about the sensitivities causing inflammation possibly in the brain and other things. Something about not letting connections be made. I read most of this in Kenneth Bock's book. It makes perfect sense because if we have an allergy/sensitivity to a food, we normally develop inflammation in our body. And that's basically what's happening to our children but in the brain. And it's not just about taking out certain foods but also adding in vitamins, essential fatty acids, minerals, probiotics, etc. that the child needs and is extremely depleted in. Here's a blog I came across that mentioned exactly what she was doing and how her child was reacting just after I think a week. http://healingautismandadhd.wordpress.com/supplements/
Here's another blog about taking their child to a DAN! doctor and what happened.
Hope this helps.
Although this thread was about gluten, I couldn't agree with this more. For example, mine responded profoundly to fish oil.
I have referred back to Bock's book over and over again. It's one to own.
My neurotypical 4 year old has sort of attacks often after he eats any gluten where first he says "I'm tired" and gets grumpy then a little bit later he clenches his fists, can't speak, cries, and makes angry faces. Afterwards he can't really explain it and he says his head didn't hurt when asked. I'm sure if one is borderline autistic then food issues would make life all the more difficult.