Autism management

Please click on the links below to read our articles. If you are interested in research findings, click here for links to research reports.

Autistic Spectrum Disorders and food sensitivity

Within the autistic community there is a body of children (and, increasingly, adults) whose condition can be affected by their diet. This group appears to consist mainly of those with regressive autism (who only became affected by the condition around the age of two) and those whose neurological and behavioural problems are accompanied by severe digestive problems often including intractable constipation.

These children appear to be unable to metabolise, or digest, some of the major food proteins - gluten and casein in particular. (Gluten is the glue-like protein that is found in wheat and many grains, widely used in food manufacturing; casein is one of the proteins found in milk, also widely used in food manufacturing.) Instead of being processed by the digestion in the normal way, the gluten and casein appear only to be partially metabolised, turning into morphine like substances which escape through the ‘leaky’ wall of the gut into the blood stream and thence to the brain.

Because the digestive system is not functioning properly, these people are also unable to dispose of, or excrete, many of the chemicals found either in their food or their environment. The chemical additives, colourings and sweeteners found in food can therefore also affect their condition.

Diets which exclude many or all of these substances have been found to be effective for some of these children - and adults. For some the improvements have been significant, but not earth shattering. But for some children the diet has been totally successful and what appeared to be a profoundly autistic child has become, and remained, ‘normal’ as long as he or she remained on the diet..

Some other helpful websites focusing on diet:

  • Action on Additives
    A project from the First Steps Nutrition Trust, Action on Additives provides evidence-based information and resources about the use of colourings, sweeteners, flavourings, and other novel ingredients in the UK's food supply.
  • The Age of Autism
    A regular web-newspaper whose authors believes that 'autism is an environmentally induced illness, that it is treatable, and that children can recover.'
  • The Autism File
    Excellent, informative site linked to a quarterly magazine run by the parents of an autistic child.
  • AutismWeb
    An informational website run by parent volunteers. Excellent organisation which, for 25 years has helped and supported families with hyperactive, ADHD children.
  • ESPA Research
    Research site from the group who pioneered the gluten and casein free diet for autistic spectrum disorders.
  • Inside the Bubble
    Useful general information site on autism, including a glossary of terms used in the management of autism, jobs working with autistics, books and articles.
  • Latitudes
    A US based organisation which explores advanced and alternative approaches to attention deficit disorder/hyperactivity, Tourette syndrome, autism and learning difficulties.


Divorce when autistic children are involved. Helpful pointers from a Californina attorney. April 2017

Taking autistic children to the dentist. Advice on minimising the trauma of dentist visits for autistic children. April 2017

Nutritional and dietary approaches to the management of autism – Dr Janice Joneja. November 2014

Autistic 7-year-old significantly improved by Faecal Microbiota Transplants used to combat his Clostridium difficile infection and chronic constipation. June 2014

An extract, by Paul Whiteley of ESPA Research, from a new book, Autism: exploring the benefits of a gluten- and casein-free diet. A practical guide for families and professionals by Paul Whiteley, Mark Earnden & Elouise Robinson. May 2014

The essential diet for children with autism - a very helpful diet article by Dr Natasha Campbell McBride on the Autism File website. May 2012

Hyperbaric oxygen and inflammation – Jane Dean explains how it can also be used to treat allergy and, maybe, even autism. April 2012

Surfing proves to be very helpful for autistic children - watch the interview
August 2010

A helpful article from Suite 101 on MSG - one of the main ingredients to be avoided on the glute/casein-free diet for autism. 2009

Report on Secretin in the treatment of autism: Brief report on the new use of Secretin’s positive effects on autistic patients – Latitudes 1999

First Published 1999

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Research Reports

A modified ketogenic gluten-free diet with MCT improves behavior in children with autism spectrum disorder Feb 2018

The ketogenic diet was trialled in an open study of 15 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This is a diet low in carbohydrates and high in fat. Children’s core symptoms of ASD dropped significantly over the 3 month period.

Unexpected improvement in core autism spectrum disorder symptoms after long-term treatment with probiotics.
Grossi E, Melli S, Dunca D, Terruzzi V.
This reports a case-study of a single patient with autism and coeliac disease. Treatment with probiotics reduced severity of abdominal symptoms but, interestingly, also led to an improvement in autistic symptomatology.

Can broccoli extract really help autism? October 2014

Autism treated by a gluten/casein-free diet. May 2013

A first-ever vaccine created by researchers for gut bacteria common in autistic children may also help control some autism symptoms. April 2013

Pets help autistic children develop social skills. Research here and comment here. 08/12

New research suggests that the area of the brain that controls social behaviour is not as damaged in adolescents with ASD as was previously believed and, by playing to their strengths – high intelligence and very specific interests – these adolescents are as capable of forging strong friendships. 09/12

Oxytocin - a naturally occurring substance produced in the brain and body - increases brain function in regions that are known to process social information in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). 05/12

Giving children with autism greater opportunity to control and add content of their own to the games they play could improve their ability to socially interact – although the fact that the interactivity is currently activated by wifi is unfortunate as the cell membranes in children on the spectrum are a third thinner than neurotypical children so wifi technology is not suitable for them to use. (Courtesy Cathy Stastny) 02/12

Digital worlds can help autistic children to develop social skills

Children with autism benefit from early, intensive therapy

Is autism related to CFS and Fibromyalgia?

Women who take prenatal vitamins early or before pregnancy are less likely to have children with autism

Autism researchers present findings on complementary medicine use and nutrition

Playing with building blocks of creativity helps children with autism

New approach finds success in teaching youth with autism

Dogs can reduce the stress levels of autistic children 

Children on the autistic spectrum may be fussy eaters but do not appear to suffer nutritionally

Gluten and casein-free trials prove positive for ASD children

Hormone oxytocin may help people with autism to relate better to others.

Why autistic people hate being hugged 

Intense remedial reading training increases brain’s ability to transmit signals

Chelation therapy helps excretion of heavy metals and overall symptoms  in children with autism

Studying the impact of music on children with autism

Melatonin an effective treatment for sleep problems in children with autism

Worms as a treatment for autism 1

Worms as a treatment for autism 2

Hyperbaric autism treatment shows possible promise
Hyperbaric treatment for children with autism: a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial

Robotics may help children with autism

Guernsey milk and autism

Autistic perspective important for improved understanding of their needs

Deficient cholesterol: a common new factor in autism

Toxic metals and autism

The Lyme-Autism connection

Sensory treatment reduces autistic mannerisms
(04/08) JS

DMG and autism
(04/08) JS

'Virtual Peers' may teach children with autism
(03/08) JS

Program assists brothers and sisters of kids with autism
(03/08) JS

Training groups can improve social skills in autistic adolescents
(10/07) JS

Learning music may help children’s communication skills more than studying phonics
(09/07) JS

Research study planned for glutathione therapy for autism
(09/07) JS

Hyperbaric oxygen used in treatment of autism
(08/07) JS
Also see Oxygen Therapy.

Enzyme modification reverses autism in mice
(09/07) JS

Probiotics and autism
(01/07) JS

A hug a day keeps anxiety at bay
(01/07) JS

Whistle is blown on official approach to autism

NB Information on this site is not a substitute for medical advice and no liability can be assumed for its use.

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