Gluten free diets do not benefit children with autism? – oh yes they do!

I feel another rant coming on so I apologize in advance, but this is something that I feel very strongly about. Once again I feel that the knowledge and skills of parents is being squashed and undermined by ‘autism professionals’. Right or wrong, this is how I feel.

This is in relation to the Wall Street Journal article that reads, ‘Gluten-Free Diet Has No Benefit for Children With Autism, Study Finds.

The ‘rigorously conducted study’ only focused on 14 children between the ages of 3 and 5, and they were put on the diet for all of 30 weeks.

The study found that by eliminating gluten and dairy from the diet, autism symptoms were not improved. Well, perhaps not in the 14 children who were involved in the study, but in the case of my child and thousands of others who are on the gluten free and casein free diet (GFCF), the diet does improve symptoms.

My son was placed on a dairy free diet at the age of three and then we gradually made his diet gluten free. We instantly saw positive results from this change. His bowel movements became less frequent (they could be as many as six time per day) and his stools became firmer. But more importantly he no longer had stomach cramps. He could also concentrate on task for longer periods and generally seemed happier. Now could we ‘prove’ that his diet was responsible? No, we could not, but not everything needs proof, the evidence was right before our eyes.

We decided to start our son on a GFCF diet with the recommendation from a paediatric dietician, who told us that if it works, then do it! He agreed that although there is no scientific evidence to back it up, many parents have told of how their child seems much happier, more able to concentrate and have more regular and ‘normal’ bowel movements as a result of being on it.

It is true that there is very little evidence to prove that children with autism have a ‘leaky gut’, meaning that it is difficult for them to absorb much needed proteins, and that this can lead to physical discomfort and behavioural symptoms. I agree, there is very little research on this subject, but you cannot discount the thousands of voices that tell the opinion that a gluten free and casein free diet works for their child.

Stating that the biggest worry about this diet is that children may not be getting the required amount of calcium and vitamin D is also inaccurate. This can come from alternative food groups in the diet. Parents are informed on such matters and many, such as myself, will have taken advice from a professional. My son’s diet is not perfect, but we do the best that we can, and he is healthy and growing.

To be told that this diet has no effect on our children is insulting, both to our intelligence and to our parenting skills.

Every parent worries about what their child eats. Are they eating enough fruit, vegetables etc.? This study is not helpful. Give us research that will help us. Give us research that will help our children.


A closer analysis of the study and its implications can be found in our article: Popular diet for autism doesn’t pass tough test