These are the questions I get asked the most. For people wondering what early autism signs we saw in Charlie, I wrote a blog post about autism signs in babies and toddlers. It’s a pretty complete list of symptoms and things to keep an eye on if you’re worried about your child’s development.
Okay, so that was the easy question, but when it comes to a good autism diet, I don’t know what the right answer is.
Celiac disease and autism
I was diagnosed with celiac in 2020. It was a surprise to me as I’ve eaten gluten for most of my life without issue. I grew up in France and consumed pasta, baguettes, and beer weekly without problems. That changed when I turned 29. After a super-fun array of tests, including blood samples, a colonoscopy, and an endoscopy, my GI specialist broke the news: I had celiac disease.
For people with celiac disease, gluten — a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye — causes an autoimmune response that damages our small intestine and can cause many other symptoms. The treatment is relatively simple, unless, of course, you’re French and baguette is your comfort food: you just stop eating gluten. There are no pills or transfusions or transplants to fix it — not yet, at least. It’s been an adjustment for me, but I feel better now.
Studies suggest that celiac is more prevalent in autistic people. Still, we didn’t want to put Charlie through a gluten-free diet unless he ultimately develops celiac disease too, which he currently does not have. Some people can be gluten-sensitive without having celiac, so maybe for them, it’s worth it. Everything points to gut health having far-reaching health implications, though. Hence, we give Charlie probiotics to give his body all the resources it needs.
The Nemechek Protocol and autism?
“The Nemechek Protocol for Autism and Developmental Delay is the most scientific and refined approach to reversing the devastating effects of autism, ADD, ADHD, SPD and the myriad of other developmental disorders.”
You’re probably wondering what The Nemechek Protocol is. Basically, it’s a nutrition/supplement protocol consisting of fish oil, olive oil, Inulin fiber, and an emphasis on avoiding Omega 6 oils.
I am not a fan, however, of its claim that it can “reverse autism.” Its recommendations do not appear to stem from evidence-based science, relying on what seem to be anecdotes to make its case. I’m all for giving our kiddos supplements, but you don’t need to buy a book to do that.
As a whole, though I’m not an expert, I’m not against the nutrition in these “autism diets.” But you have to be careful with what’s out there, to challenge claims that are too good to be valid, and to remember that the primary help your child needs should come in other, more direct ways. If you’re concerned about your kiddo’s nutrition, a blood test from the doctor is the perfect way to learn what their body might be lacking. Physical health is essential, but remember, it’s just one component of a holistic view of health.