Autism is becoming increasingly common, affecting those on the spectrum and their family’s daily life. The National Autistic Society estimates that around 700,000 people may be autistic, more than 1 in 100 in the population, with four times more boys than girls affected.
Autism is a complex biological disorder characterised by difficulties with speech, compulsive or obsessive behaviours, problems understanding others feelings, sensory and visual misperceptions.
No single cause has been established, although genetic and environmental factors are implicated. A number of studies highlight the positive impact nutritional therapy can make to supporting children with autism. The following are key areas of nutritional therapy considerations:
Avoid Common Allergens
Nutritional therapy for autism frequently focuses on removal of foods and undesirable food ingredients that may be contributing factors to symptoms. Exclusion of gluten, casein, artificial food additives, flavourings, colourings are common ingredients eliminated.
Restoring gut health balance is often a very useful focus nutritional therapy. Studies have shown that many children with autism have severe digestion and absorption issues, potentially allowing undesirable foods and chemicals to reach the brain via the bloodstream. Digestive health may be compromised for a number of reasons, for instance where children have received repeated or prolonged courses of antibiotic drugs for childhood infections or where their diet has been highly restrictive, repetitive or processed.
Balance Blood Sugar
There is much overlap between ADH/hyperactivity and autism, so for autistic children who show signs of hyperactivity, improving blood sugar balance is a must.
Increase Beneficial Fats
Studies show that deficiencies in essential fats are common in people with autism. Our brain relies on essential fats to function optionally, therefore ensuring an optimal intake of essential fats is a key consideration.
Improve Nutrient Intake
Nutrient deficiencies are commonly found in studies of children with autism, with repetitive and restricted diets a common cause. Increasing specific vitamins have been found to improved symptoms in autistic children in studies.