Help with Autism May Start in the Kitchen

Article excerpt

People are clearly more than what they eat. But those with autism may have their behavior dictated by what they take in.

Gluten, artificial additives, casein " these are words and phrases that have been thrown around for years by nutritionists and doctors claiming they may change the behavior of people with autism.

One of the leading supporters of this claim is Julie Matthews, a certified nutritionist and author of the cookbook "Cooking to Heal.'

Based in San Francisco, Ms. Matthews says she wrote the cookbook to aid parents who are looking for other ways to help their child with developmental disorders.

The problem comes in three basics forms: Gluten, often found in wheat products like bread and cereal; casein, a protein found in dairy products; and artificial additives and preservatives, found in many sweet foods like candy and frosting.

Ms. Matthews says the ingredients' effect on children with autism varies, but she sees it as having an effect on many.

Foods with artificial additives, she says, often overwhelm their bodies more than a person without the disorder.

"We know that kids with autism often are even more overwhelmed detoxification-wise and they can create aggression, self-injurious behavior, hyperactivity and pain,' she says.

Dr. James D. Smith, a chiropractor and alternative medicine physician in St. Joseph, agrees, stating he has seen the disorder rise dramatically in his 40 years of practice.

While Dr. Smith can't explain exactly why autism rates have increased, he does see that gluten and casein have caused complications with it. Oftentimes, he sees digestive problems are exacerbated when an enzyme called DPP-IV doesn't work properly to digest the two ingredients.

"When that enzyme isn't functioning correctly, things go bad quick. They get constipated, they can't digest food as well,' he says.

Many parents of children with autism give the gluten-free, casein- free diet, otherwise known as GFCF diet, a test run to see if the food has any effect.

Dr. Smith and Ms. Matthews have high praise for it.

"Most of the kids do better almost immediately because of the gluten and the casein,' Dr. …