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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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July 12, 2012

Autism: A Brain or Whole-Body Disorder?

By Mark Sisson
211 Comments

You could say this post is a long time coming. In the last few years, I’ve lost count of the huge number of emails I get from parents with kids who have special needs either asking for advice or explaining how The Primal Blueprint has made a significant difference for their children. These are parents who love their kids for all their abilities and differences and who want to explore every reasonable lifestyle intervention they can to make their kids’ lives everything they can and should be.

I’ll state the obvious here. I’m not a disability expert, but I’ve been moved and motivated by these parents’ emails. From a general health perspective, I’ve wondered how our modern lives could be contributing to the epidemic. Likewise, I’m curious how research can illuminate potential benefits of lifestyle interventions. What is the biological picture behind the dysfunction in these conditions, and how can biology be harnessed to restore functioning? A recent approach focused on the whole brain and whole body is asking those exact questions – and finding answers.

Like most people, I have friends and acquaintances who are raising children with developmental or behavioral disabilities. Some of us here are raising children with these conditions. Some of us have nieces or nephews, family friends, or neighbors with these disabilities. Others in the PB community have these disabilities themselves. Regardless of our personal connection, we’ve all heard about the skyrocketing rates of developmental and behavioral disabilities like autism and ADHD. Recent studies show one in six kids in the U.S. has been diagnosed with a developmental disability – mostly resulting from the spike in autism and ADHD. There’s general agreement now it’s not solely a matter of improved diagnosis, and few anymore argue that it’s purely a genetic phenomenon. Simple math negates the possibility that a “genetic” condition would spike in the span of less than half a generation. Since 1995, autism alone has gone from a rate of 1/3300 children to 1/88 children. Prevailing opinion now connects the rising prevalence of these conditions with a confluence of some kind of genetic vulnerability with pivotal environmental factors that somehow set off this genetic potential.

Enter the growing focus on not just “whole brain” but even “whole body” research and intervention for these kinds of disabilities. Our bodies are incredibly complex systems operating with an intricacy conventional medicine is just beginning to grasp. Experts are increasingly applying these principle to the study of autism, ADHD, and other developmental and behavioral disabilities. They’re looking at elements as diverse as gut profiles, neurological connectivity, and gene expression. A picture is emerging as researchers study the surge of these conditions. The “genetic” root is relatively seldom the traditional, identifiable pattern in family lines. Rather, it appears many of these children have inherited a genetic risk factor characterized by a heightened sensitivity to “assaults” on the system from toxins, infections, and other environmental influences. As Nancy Minshew, a University of Pittsburgh professor of psychiatry and neurology explains, “Genes do not code for diagnoses. They code for proteins, which then go about creating an effect.” In other words, a cycle is set in motion. Is it possible to stop the cascade that unfolds and even reverse it – at least in part?

A New Focus for Autism Research

Dr. Martha Herbert, a Harvard pediatric neurologist who has studied autism for seventeen years, believes it can be done. She began research into autism with the same genetics-focused approach common to the field. In her words, she quickly found the picture to be much more complex. In her recently published book The Autism Revolution: Whole-Body Strategies for Making Life All It Can Be, Dr. Herbert explains how addressing basic coexisting medical issues and optimizing overall health can positively and sometimes dramatically impact the symptoms associated with autism. I’d definitely recommend Dr. Herbert’s book to anyone interested in learning more about a biological treatment approach to autism.

Initially interested in comparing MRIs of her patients, Dr. Herbert began to see an interaction of neurological functioning with other physical issues like poor digestion, low muscle tone, fatigue, frequent infections, nutritional deficiencies, and food allergies. She found that “treating health” ended up treating autism. Herbert describes the series of “vicious cycles” that often plague those with autism as one of “genetic glitches, oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and weakened repair systems.” Biologically based treatment, she asserts, can support basic cellular health, aid neurological balance and connectivity, and promote healthier gene expression. It’s a systems biology approach that appreciates the interactions – both big and subtle.

In the meantime, experts were finding – and confirming – that seemingly unrelated factors like fevers or the use of certain steroids or blood pressure medications could almost instantaneously dial back autistic symptoms. These instances – as well as the basic progress of many individuals on the spectrum – suggested autism was perhaps more of a flexible “state” than a fixed “trait.” If this was possible, what could be done safely and systemically to take advantage of this potential fluidity?

Dr. Herbert outlines a whole host of lifestyle based suggestions surrounding diet, toxin free living, supplementation, sleep, sensory exposure, stress, and other daily factors. There’s too much to explain here, but let me summarize a few of her central points and put it in context for those who live Primally.

Nutrition Is Key

However it shakes out in the chicken versus the egg picture, individuals on the autism spectrum are prime targets for nutritional deficiencies, yet they’re more in need of nutrients than their typically functioning counterparts. As Dr. Herbert and others have found, individuals on the spectrum show signs of oxidative stress and impaired cellular dysfunction. Dr. Herbert explains, for example, that mitochondria dysfunction is much more common in those with autism than it is in the population as a whole. Research suggests a third of those with autism have mitochondrial dysfunction. As I’ve noted before and as Herbert explains, mitochondria are the energy centers or “furnaces” for cells. If your mitochondria are choking through their day, so are you. Fueling these furnaces means feeding them well. B-vitamins are critical as are minerals like magnesium and zinc. Not surprisingly, these are common deficiencies in many people on the autism spectrum.

Likewise, research shows basic toxin and cellular waste removal may not be as efficient in individuals with autism. Antioxidants are essential here, particularly the heavy hitters like vitamins C and E as well that powerhouse glutathione. Nutritional deficiencies mean the building blocks for glutathione (which the body produces itself) are in short supply. When glutathione levels are inadequate, a whole host of vital processes feel the impact. For one, the body can’t effectively dispose of cellular waste, a condition that then further feeds oxidative stress. Among other impaired activities is methylation, which is involved in producing neurotransmitters, managing gene expression, and creating functional cell membranes.

Dr. Herbert advises getting a full nutritional panel, eating a nutrient rich and clean (e.g. organic, grass-fed, “caveman” – yes, she really says this) diet, supplementing with oversight from a qualified physician with experience in autism disorders, and using Epsom salt baths to help the body detoxify in a safe and convenient way. Her dietary and supplementation recommendations are too complex to fully describe here, but some key nutrients she notes include B-vitamins, zinc, vitamin D, selenium, EPA, and DHA. The irony is, of course, that these children’s diets are often more likely to be deficient because of sometimes extreme sensory aversions to the taste, smell, texture, or even appearance of certain foods. In yet another example of vicious cycle, nutritional deficiencies (e.g. zinc) can contribute to these sensory aversions. She suggests correcting deficiencies and taking advantage of feeding clinics and sensory therapies to expand food tolerance.

Neurologically speaking, the connections between parts of the brain in people with autism, she found, are weaker than they are in typically functioning individuals. Other research suggests people with autism show hyperlocal connections, a concentration of connections within the brain – generally in the frontal cortex, and weaker “distant” connections throughout the whole brain. It began to make sense, Dr. Herbert suggests, that people with autism often exhibit lower functioning in complex, neurologically integrated tasks like language and socialization as well as a heightened sensitivity to sensory stimuli.

Options like music and certain play therapies cultivate connectivity because they use multiple sites in the brain simultaneously, but Dr. Herbert also stresses the importance of nutrition for neural health. She homes in on the role of astrocytes (glial cells), which act as the “interface between body, brain, and environment.” If they’re unable to perform their duties, here comes the cascade of neurochemical imbalance (including a dearth of relaxation-promoting GABA), oxidative stress, drained mitochondrial health, and cellular dysfunction. Again, it’s another downward spiral. Feeding the glial cells means incorporating copious essential fatty acids, especially EPA and DHA, as well as B vitamins, and magnesium. In the cases of those with autism, upper limits on nutrients like B6 may not apply the same way. Nonetheless, Dr. Herbert suggests working with a doctor who can find a therapeutic dose that doesn’t impose unwanted and risky side effects.

Immune Function (Especially Gut Health) Is Key

Remember those glial cells? Most of your glial cells are found in the digestive system rather than the brain. As Dr. Herbert explains, research is just beginning to understand the implications of this for autism disorders. Overall, she explains that gut bacteria has a huge impact on the brain. Abnormal gut bacteria can deplete nutrients and produce unhealthy chemicals Herbert calls “toxic trash.” Research has found, for example that the more p-cresol (a chemical produced by abnormal gut bugs) that was present in subjects’ urine, the more severe their autistic symptoms were.

Dr. Herbert stresses that we don’t know when the abnormal gut profile takes root, but everyone’s gut immune system is established early on. She suggests incorporating fermented and cultured foods, using a probiotic supplement, avoiding over-sanitation, eliminating artificial additives, and limiting carb intake. While some experts poo-poo diet elimination techniques, Dr. Herbert says she’s seen more than enough evidence in research and in her patients to suggest that these elimination diets (e.g. gluten, casein) can make a critical difference. The key is to give it time – some three to six months – to judge real change and to work with a physician who can differentiate between “die off” (e.g. yeast) transitions and other health responses when looking at any coinciding setbacks.

Some Final Primal Words

Our lives – and our children’s lives – are so vastly different today than they were just a couple of generations ago. These differences are embedding themselves faster than we sometimes appreciate. I wonder if it’s just simple coincidence that many new treatments for autism spectrum, ADHD, and other developmental and behavioral disabilities are homing in on maximizing what I’d call the basics of healthy development itself – enhanced nutrient density, increased time outdoors, more exercise and movement, rich play opportunities. To be sure, many of these are often adapted for particular therapeutic purposes like specialized social play therapies, music therapy, or Anat Baniel’s movement methods. Nonetheless, these approaches prioritize the building blocks of physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional development.

It’s true there are plenty of children with autism or ADHD who grew up eating real, organic, even Primal food, who played outside nonstop, and lived with fewer household toxins. Likewise, there are millions of kids walking around without a disability who have been fed a steady diet of fast food, candy, and junk food. As Herbert and others suggest, it’s a complicated, confounding picture we’re dealing with. It can seem random and unjust.

I can’t say I know this from personal experience with special needs in particular, but I’ve seen friends wade their way through the tangle of emotion and services as well as the confusion of expert opinions. (It’s a pattern that also obviously holds in other “expert” based arenas as well like health care.) Just because the bulk of research goes down a certain path doesn’t mean you have to. Often the best, most sensical and personally effective means for bettering one’s health and life are to be found in the margins, the up and coming or as-yet little understood approaches.

Make no mistake. I’m all for the importance of good research. I look for confirmation. I know, however, that effective options don’t always get studied or published with the same frequency as conventional choices. As the folks at Brain Parenting put it, “the ‘good science’ metric is often wielded like a stick against parents or teachers who try new and novel techniques to help kids with unusual brains. Parenting doesn’t just rely on ‘good science.’ It also relies on observation, and derives great power from the narrative.”

The research on whole brain, whole body intervention doesn’t negate the importance of traditional interventions like speech and occupational therapy, social therapies, etc. It doesn’t nullify the call for medications that can actually make a positive difference in the lives of those with autism, ADHD, or other similar conditions. It doesn’t undercut the significance of parental love and acceptance. And, inevitably, it doesn’t offer a simple or universal resolution to the difficulties imposed by autism or other developmental and behavioral disabilities. As Dr. Herbert explains, it’s not about promising a cure but revolutionizing the way we think about and address these developmental and behavioral conditions. The whole brain, whole body approach seeks to harness the basics of biology – cultivating the power of cells, the fitness of whole systems, and the potential of brain plasticity – to foster the healthiest and richest life possible for every individual whether he/she is disabled or not.

Thanks for reading today, everybody. I hope you’ll offer your own thoughts and perspectives. I’ll look forward to reading your feedback.

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211 Comments on "Autism: A Brain or Whole-Body Disorder?"

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Graham
4 years 2 months ago

It’s so crazy to me that the medical community just won’t even entertain the idea that nutrition is the basis for health (and disease).

Also, this idea of specializing into “endocrinology” or “nephrology” or “neurology” as if you can separate one from all the other parts of the body is ludicrous.

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
4 years 2 months ago

Especially when doctors take the Hippocratic Oath. Hippocrates had the correct idea:

Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food. But to eat when you are sick, is to feed your sickness.

Graham
4 years 2 months ago

They should change it to the Pharmocratic oath – due to the corporatism and all, AMIRITE?

rabbit_trail
rabbit_trail
4 years 2 months ago

+1

Wenchypoo
Wenchypoo
4 years 2 months ago

I suggested the Hypocritic Oath once in my speech class in college, because they all seem like hypocrites to me!

On another note: I’ve been seeing the same things being tried for Alzheimer’s–modern medicine seems to have slammed up against a brick wall with this one, yet nutritional approaches seem to have the best effect of slowing or reversing it yet.

Jenn
Jenn
4 years 2 months ago

+1

Josh Singer
4 years 2 months ago

I completely agree that “our medicine should be our food.” However, I do agree with Mark’s parting words stating that we should not discount some current treatments which are successful in certain cases of autism. Also, “the significance of parental love and acceptance” when discussing Autism is arguably the most important thing to look at. Without familial support for the disabled individual, ANY sort of treatment will undoubtably be proven futile.

Linda
Linda
4 years 2 months ago

Parental EDUCATION, love, and support! Yes, we need to support our children through confusion and dysregulation, at the same time we consider biochemical supports! But … I DO think there is a place for biochemical support. I do not care for the approaches of several orgs that push supplement use(any morethan big pharma), their suggested therapies verge on superstition at times, but when there is a plausible explanation for a problem, it is worth trying (See my comment below).

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
4 years 2 months ago

For certain cases of autism, like ADHD, I recommend the South Park “Sit Down and Study!” method. Lets not forget our pets, they may have ADHD and may not listen. I recommend “Dissing You Dog”.

Jessica (@fringies)
4 years 2 months ago
As the parent of a daughter on the Autism Spectrum, I am in whole-hearted agreement with the opinion of Mark & you. We tried gluten/casein-free when she was first diagnosed 4 years ago. We did not notice a difference in her at the time and finally decided to d/c the diet, feeling her greatest improvements were due to increased attention and acceptance from me and the rest of the family (hard to admit–). From the time forward, we slowly changed our diets to a more clean, organic one and have noticed vast improvement in her behavior. I think this is… Read more »
Max Ungar
4 years 2 months ago

Totally agree. When will they start to acknowledge this? and how can we attempt to push them in the right direction? Can it be done?

Graham
4 years 2 months ago

This is really the main reason I decided NOT to become an MD. They get almost no nutrition training, and what they do get is generally a 2-3 addon to a medical biochem course.

If I break my leg or need surgery, I’ll go see a doctor. For just about ANYTHING else, I’m going to someone else.

Graham
4 years 2 months ago

*2-3 week*

Kelda
4 years 2 months ago

Agreed.

I have found much greater resonance with Chinese medicine which looks at the whole organism and that includes energy, emotion and nutrition.

It shouldn’t be rocket science should it!

Danni
Danni
4 years 2 months ago

I don’t think it’s a true statement that the medical community “won’t even entertain the idea that nutrition is the basis for health (and disease).”

Graham
4 years 2 months ago

There are individual doctors that will, the amorphous “medical community” will not. They can’t, their owners won’t let them 🙂

Ma Flintstone
Ma Flintstone
4 years 2 months ago

+1

Adam
Adam
4 years 2 months ago

Let me just say you probably don’t realize how complex the diseases/diagnoses are for the different type of specialists you described. I mean, I agree in general that a total-body approach should be taken. But unless people are going to live for 500 years and have the mental capacity of like 400% of the normal human, they’re not going to be able to have as detailed knowledge of the different organs/systems as they have now. It would be nice, but it’s unrealistic.

For GPs, your approach is perfect, but for specialists…yeah, it’s not really possible.

Annie
Annie
4 years 2 months ago
I have the oportunity to work off and on with a renouned neurologist (I am a medical interpreter/Spanish) and was so happy to hear how this community of MD’s is promoting the carb free/ low carb diet in a controled hospital setting. Especially with children that have epilepsy or convulsions. It must be very difficult to trust the parents once they get home and the child starts asking for cereals, cookies etc.! But needless to say, this is a non medication breakthrough! It seems to have an incredible reversal of symptoms and they last a lifetime from what I understand!… Read more »
Stephanie
Stephanie
4 years 2 months ago

Awesome to hear!

Ben V
Ben V
4 years 2 months ago

The genetic component seems to be from several factors. One that seems required is an MTHFR mutation. 98% of autistic children have this mutation while ~30% of the general population has it. So it is not enough to cause autism. But there is some good reason to believe it is one prerequisite.

http://www.jpands.org/vol9no4/boris.pdf

The vaccine link was nonsense to me until I learned about MTHFR and its effect on methylation and toxin management. Now I am not so sure it is total bunk.

Alex
Alex
4 years 2 months ago

I am extremely dubious that there has been an actual explosion of these conditions, as opposed to an explosion of diagnoses.

Particularly in the case of autism spectrum disorders, we’ve broadened categorisation [and created categories for less severe manifestations] so more people qualify, and our general awareness has vastly increased, meaning many more people are getting their kids tested.

As my grandmother, who taught grade school decades ago, has said, it’s not that kids back then didn’t have ADHD, it’s that no one thought kids being hyper was a medical condition.

ezestreets
ezestreets
4 years 2 months ago

I would agree with that.

Joe
Joe
4 years 2 months ago

+1

Colleen
Colleen
4 years 2 months ago

Agreed. However, the acceleration of poor nutrition combined with the unnatural environment in which we live could be leading to an acceleration of epigenetic changes which can be passed from mother to child which is increasing with each generation. The poor food/environment may also be leading to changes in the womb that we don’t yet understand. I believe it is a combination of both, medicalizing “normal” and true changes for the worse.

Pure Hapa
Pure Hapa
4 years 2 months ago

Yes, I agree with you Colleen. I do believe that there has been a larger diagnostic “net” but I also think there are dietary and environmental issues at hand that are affecting our human genome in ways we won’t fathom for decades.

Chris Butterworth
4 years 2 months ago
I would vastly disagree with this. I’m 43 years old, so I was in early elementary school in the 1970’s. I went to a fairly large public school, with multiple classes for each grade level. When I think back to my classes, there were always some kids who didn’t fit in, or were even a bit quirky / eccentric. Maybe, just MAYBE, one or two of them might have been high-functioning on the ASD scale. Today, take a look at my son’s classroom. You’ll find a whole group of kids who, while great kids & working with great staff to… Read more »
Pure Hapa
Pure Hapa
4 years 2 months ago

Since I’m not a parent, I haven’t been near lots of children lately. But I do know that the children “on the street” are incredibly overweight – and that’s something we definitely did not see when I was going to school. I think there has got to be a connection. Not that overweight=autistic or vice-versa. Just that we are doing harm to ourselves our children and that it starts in the womb, and that the results of the harm are different.

God, did I make any sense at all?

Sondra Rose
4 years 2 months ago

+1

It definitely starts in the womb–both diet, Vitamin D status and toxin exposure.

Not to mention birth trauma from our highly medicalized maternity services.

ravi
4 years 2 months ago

i’m with simon on this one too – sure the “net” is egregiously being expanded to get more pharmaceuticals into more circulation – but i too went to school in the 60’s and have little recall of such widespread behavioural extremes.
and certainly one cannot even begin to argue that autism has not exponentially increased – whether you believe 1/88 or 1/500 – it is still astronomically higher than a generation ago.

momof2groks
momof2groks
4 years 2 months ago
Chris is right. It is not a matter of better diagnosis or parenting that is not up to par, the kids today are damaged in ways that we were not. I see it in my children and in my friends’ children. I see it when I go to a birthday party and two children are slapping at their heads from over-stimulation. For more information, check out the book and website, “A Compromised Generation” and you will see that what we are dealing with is not normal, and if people don’t stop sweeping it under the rug with stupid excuses, it… Read more »
jacsuza
jacsuza
4 years 2 months ago

I’m 49 and you’re right, that “whole group of kids . . . were nowhere to be seen. . .” back in the day. However, there was quite a bit of legislation in the later 70’s that served to increase public school access to disabled students. At the school where I teach, we have numerous children who would have been institutionalized back then.

Dtnmommy
Dtnmommy
4 years 2 months ago

Keep in mind, too, that children with severe disabilities were not mainstreamed until pretty recently. Your mom likely didn’t see them because they were in institutions or specialized schools.

tracyinbarcelona
tracyinbarcelona
4 years 2 months ago
I would be very careful with this statement. I have a child with autism and I also know many other families who have children with autism, more than I care to count. We are not talking about hyperactive children who are just having a hard time sitting in class, we are talking about children who are non-verbal, who do not look you in the eye, who flap their hands and spin in circles. I am 47 years old and we never heard about autism when I was younger, because there were not the numbers of children with these characteristics, plain… Read more »
Melissa
Melissa
4 years 2 months ago
I agree with you. I have a sister who is severely autistic I would not describe her as quirky or eccentric. She ran in circles, can’t communicate, is fixated with movies and constantly verbalizes movie scenes over and over. She used to be violent and she still hits herself and is extremely emotionally unstable. People don’t really understand what autism actually is and just start to lump together any mental disability as one. I think the kids he is referencing do not have these characteristics. For the record, if you look up the history of autism, it states that in… Read more »
Mikey UK
Mikey UK
4 years 2 months ago

Just a point I’ve read not too long ago – The Amish have no vaccines and no cases of autism…

Tim
Tim
4 years 2 months ago

@Mikey,

Yet the Japanese had their rate of Autism go down while they were using vaccines with thimerosal. I.e. it’s not so simple as vaccination. (meanwhile non vaccination has real consequences) Correlation is not causation, the Amish also don’t have cellphones, maybe that’s why they don’t have autism.

Everyone wants a smoking gun for Autism they want that one clear reason for why. Maybe there isn’t one. I’d imagine it’s much more likely a combination of things, things that we’ve introduced over the last 30 years or so, mixed with genes we’ve had for much longer than that.

Hazel
4 years 2 months ago

The Amish DO vaccinate. Just lower numbers than the general population and they do have cases of autism too. Something they have that the general population don’t though, is a culture of acceptance of people as they are, like people with autism. They don’t seem to be hell bent on “fixing” those with autism as we are.
We have to stop linking vaccination with autism, it has been proven time and time again to be a false connection – why can’t we let this go?

SuzU
SuzU
1 year 10 months ago
Mikey, the Amish and other Plain People do vaccinate, some at rates of 90%, and they do have autism – some nonvaccinated kids are autistic, some vaccinated kids are not. There is a commentary by a Mennonite woman named Martha Binckley, who has one autistic child. He was vaccinated at 4 and 7 months old, the parents saw that he was apparently having a bad reaction, and stopped having him vaccinated. The boy is autistic. Hard evidence? No. The boy has a twin sister, vaccinated on the same schedule as her brother, who is not autistic. Lower rates of autism… Read more »
Mike friedlander
4 years 2 months ago
I too have a son with autism. I have been using the gluten free casein free diet for 2 years and while my son still has a long way to go he is not in a “fog” anymore. Once in a while he will get into my daughter Cheerios or gold fish and go to town. The next day is foggy and disoriented. So obviously he can’t handle gluten so the diet must be helping. I also want to thank Mark for discussing this topic because eventually the truth will come out that autism is linked ( not caused by)… Read more »
momof2groks
momof2groks
4 years 2 months ago
Hazel- You have no clue what you are talking about. This approach isn’t about being hell-bent on “fixing” autism. It is about treating the co-morbid conditions that make life miserable for children on the spectrum. For example, my son had so much pain in his digestive system, that he was unable to sleep the first three years of his life. Perhaps I should have just accepted him as he was, exhausted, miserable, bloated, and throwing himself around on furniture and leaning on hard corners all the time to get some relief? Hell no. I worked my ass off getting his… Read more »
CRMS
CRMS
4 years 2 months ago
Vaccines have been known to trigger autoimmune diseases – my neighbor was in a wheelchair from Guillain-Barre for THREE years following the Swine Flu vaccine back in ’76. (She’s lucky – 30 people died from the vaccine) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/09/health/09vaccine.html Just recently in Finland (and Sweden, and now Ireland) a version of the swine flu vaccine manufactured by Pandemrix caused an especially virulent form of narcolepsy, an autoiommune disorder, in children. Now, many Finns received the shot and were just fine. But the victims all shared a genetic type and were aged aged 6 – 14. What’s interesting is that 1/3 of… Read more »
Lisa
Lisa
4 years 2 months ago

in japan, they reduced SIDS dramatically b/c they delayed vaccination until babies were older and stronger. Still, why inject toxic metals? No thanks.

momof2groks
momof2groks
4 years 2 months ago
Tracy, we have done GAPS too for our children (one is NT but with a terribly damaged immune system and early signs of asthma, and one who was diagnosed with PDD-NOS, though he has since lost his diagnosis and qualification for special services). This epidemic does deserve serious consideration. With the exception of DAN! doctors, the medical community is only writing scripts and telling us, “Your child needs behavioral therapy and Ritalin.” We, the parents of these kids, are finding our own path to recovering our kids’ fragile heath through forums, communities, and lots and lots of research. Keep up… Read more »
Linda
Linda
4 years 2 months ago

Disagree. Walk through any elementary school and see if you can’t tell which kids have IEPs! I CAN.

cheryl
cheryl
4 years 2 months ago

Love this! It is so true. We just got sent to the time-out desk in the cloak room.

Grete
Grete
4 years 2 months ago

The above comment is what I would’ve added as well… There is also an “explosion” of diagnoses being made (especially here in California where the early intervention services are provided readily) because the doctors want the child to receive the benefits of early intervention, even if they later test off the “autism spectrum”.

I appreciate Mark’s article, though, and agree with the nutritional component playing a role in overall behavior.

Just Me
Just Me
4 years 2 months ago

Hi. I have Asperger’s syndrome. For me, eliminating certain foods makes a HUGE difference in how I function overall. Nutrition is the best medicine, and it’s good to hear that more people on the autistic spectrum are discovering The Primal Blueprint.

Craig
Craig
4 years 2 months ago

I have Asperger’s too and would amend the above to say Nutrition plus Exercise. Of course that’s the Primal Blueprint too.

Linda
Linda
4 years 2 months ago

YES a good exercise regimen, including aerobic and Lifting Heavy Things ;-), definitely has been shown to help in any mito dysfunction.

Bill C
Bill C
4 years 2 months ago

Asperger’s Syndrome: a label given to a group of people who are lacking in social skills/ability/capability, are on the high-functioning and mild end of the Autism spectrum, and who have far more than their share of geniuses and far less than their share of IQs below 100.
I find it much easier to explain that I am a non-social nerd. (non-, not anti-)

em
em
4 years 2 months ago

All of you with Asperger’s… How do your symptoms improve?

Linda
Linda
4 years 2 months ago

Increased sociability, and emotional regulation. Improved muscle tone. Improved willingness to eat something other than carbs. Better grades learning ability … more self-care skills … more initiative and independence.

Sofie
Sofie
4 years 2 months ago

Better executive function, clearer head, easier to find words, less anxiety, more initiative and independence.

Also more muscles, strength and happiness (so awesome – often I’ll feel completely happy for no reason at all).

Lesley
4 years 2 months ago

Do any of you with Aspergers find that you need to do less stimming when you follow a Primal lifestyle – or GAPS?

Sofie
Sofie
4 years 2 months ago

Yes. It’s more noticeable the other way around – if I eat certain foods, I start stimming a lot afterwards.

Rob
Rob
4 years 2 months ago

This has become a huge issue. My friend, works as a special needs teacher, and she is concerned with all the medications that her students are put on, and whatever else the parents think will “help” outside of diet.
Don’t read this wrong, I’m sure 99% of parents are trying to do the right thing by their children, but sometimes you get scared and they begin to look at the problem from the wrong angle.

Max Ungar
4 years 2 months ago

Agreed. We as a population need to start to think from the basics, rather than trying to go overboard with medications, fancy techniques, so on. Look at what we are doing to our bodies first. Once we see that we are giving ourselves these disease’s because of our lifestyles, then we can start to improve.

Graham
4 years 2 months ago

Yeah, I don’t think any of the parents are actively trying to harm their children, but they sure as hell are taking their cues from the wrong people!

Tim
4 years 2 months ago

A few more chemicals here and there. To fix your wound, your wang, your hair and mend your child’s vacant stare. Who can it hurt? Why should we care?

You’ll smile and laugh and eat and play, just the same as any day. Forget those side effects they make us say. They never really happen anyway.

With no guilt, remorse, or shame, we know we can achieve our aim. When consumers look and act and think the same. It makes marketing to them easy game.

-Tim (aka @dystopicthinker)

Graham
4 years 2 months ago

+1

ravi
4 years 2 months ago

+++ 100 – t-on…

Jim
Jim
4 years 2 months ago
A lot of this has to do with educating yourself. Our ADHD / Asperger son has definitely improved on medication. However, we didn’t just jump to medication. We had a great deal of dialogue with the pediatrician, established beahavior plans and educated ourselves before trialing meds. To this day we attend conferences and seminars – it is a full time job advocating for these kids. But giving them the foundation now, even if that means using effective meds – and I stress effective, because not all medical professionals are knowledgeable in establishing an effective med regimen – will set the… Read more »
Linda
Linda
4 years 2 months ago

Amen!!!

Nikhil Hogan
4 years 2 months ago

As a music therapist who worked in a special education facility with these wonderful kids, I can really attest to the power of music.

I must also add that sadly, most of the school meals follow the usual government advice of low-fat, low-cholesterol, no red meat, plenty of juice. I believe the kids would really benefit from a primal meal makeover!

Chris Butterworth
4 years 2 months ago

Nikhil – music therapy has been a god-send for my son & our family. We’re thankful for Suzanne Oliver and the rest of the great people at http://www.nmtsa.org and ACT School (Assuming Competence Today).

ravi
4 years 2 months ago
… and “Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast” – anyone with non-disabled kids will understand the link to kids and savage beasts – i grew up in the 60s when there was still music education, band, and more – just try to find a school with a music program now – our owners found that it was totally unnecessary to create good mindless soldiers or consumers – in fact, being trained in “good” music was a drawback to getting kids to buy every crappy, inane excuse for music the industry pours out (and yes, i like classical AND… Read more »
Groktimus Primal
4 years 2 months ago

The mind may be the toughest nut to crack.

Chris Butterworth
4 years 2 months ago
My oldest son turns 13 next month, and our life has been turned completely inside-out, over and over again, since he was diagnosed at 18 months. We’ve been very proactive in trying to help – diligent with research and open minds. And while prescription medicine and certain therapies have helped, the three pieces which have had the biggest impact for him are: GFCF diet (gluten free, casein free), Vitamin supplements (including several of those mentioned in your article), and Homeopathic remedies (which I really don’t like admitting to because I don’t understand how they work, but they definitely have a… Read more »
ravi
4 years 2 months ago
i read your story with so much empathy, Chris, and i am blessed to have had more of this lifestyle/nutrition information and a deep ambivalent about conventional medicine available to me before i had a kid (had my daughter at 53) – when i think how much she has impacted our lives (both good and with challenges) while not being affected by any of these problems, i know i am blessed. i find myself livid and expressive about vegan diets for kids, vaccines, poisons in the environment and am amazed at the utter complacency of 99% of the population about… Read more »
ravi
4 years 2 months ago

“Science has come so far in the last few decades, and created things which were unfathomable not too long ago.”

actually, i believe you have grossly understated this – the number of chemicals unknown to the human body (and to the planet) that now regularly enter the environment/food chain/household/building materials etc is in the 100’s of thousands–

creepy

Mike friedlander
4 years 2 months ago

I feel like you are describing my exact life I completely know how you feel. My wife and I just spent over $7000 to get my son into a full day kindergarten because the my school district wanted to dump him in an autism support classroom. This disorder will drain you of everything

momof2groks
momof2groks
4 years 2 months ago
Chris- Again, I have to agree with you whole-heartedly. My son had troubling behaviors, some that I cannot bear to even think about now that we are through those terrible days. I kept bringing him to his pediatrician and begging for help, crying for help. Her response, “You have just spoiled him. He is very smart and he is manipulating you. You need better discipline strategies.” Then I saw mr. Mark Hyman on TV talking about the links between food, especially gluten, and behavior in ASD and ADHD kids. I read up on it and tried it, and it worked… Read more »
Christina208
Christina208
4 years 2 months ago

Can you provide a source about the tylonol allegation? I actually give that to my kids and would love to know where you heard that so I can stop if I need to!!

momof2groks
momof2groks
4 years 2 months ago
Here’s a blog with some links. http://babyfoodsteps.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/mitoxic-why-acetaminophen-may-not-be-good-for-any-of-us-especially-mitochondrial-disease-patients/ Very early stages of research on this, but it has been repeated over and over again in the forum I belong to for moms who use Bio-Medical treatments…Older child with full CDC vax schedule + tylenol + overuse of antibiotics = some kind of ASD or related issue. For the younger sibs, they avoided antibiotics, avoided tylenol, and either opted out or selected and delayed the vaccines, and ended up with NT kids. Can’t forget that we don’t vaccinate in a vacuum, there are many other confounding factors that could come into play… Read more »
ravi
4 years 2 months ago

allegation or no, STOP giving that crap to your kids – willow bark and other herbal SAFE remedies are out there (yes – in nature not in the drug store) –

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[…] health site Mark’s Daily Apple has again spoken favorably on the benefits of music therapy in treating kids on the Autism Spectrum: Options like music and […]

Max Ungar
4 years 2 months ago

In short, being primal can help prevent or even cure ADHD or autism.

Wonder how exercise effects these diseases? If it is truly “whole body” then exercise should play a key role in treatment shouldn’t it?

bbuddha
bbuddha
4 years 2 months ago

my, now 22 y.o., daughter was diagnosed with ADHD in 3rd grade, I’m very much against prescription meds in 99.9% situations. So I did some research and changed her diet to low carb. This didn’t “cure” her but it allowed her to control some of her negative behaviors while retaining her abilities. When she joined the varsity cheerleading team in HS that pretty much took care of it. I wish I’d known about the primal lifestyle then

Lewis
Lewis
4 years 2 months ago
From the article: “A picture is emerging as researchers study the surge of these conditions. The “genetic” root is relatively seldom the traditional, identifiable pattern in family lines. Rather, it appears many of these children have inherited a genetic risk factor characterized by a heightened sensitivity to “assaults” on the system from toxins, infections, and other environmental influences.” Yup. “Surge” is about right. Autism used to be about 1 in 10,000. It’s now down to around 1 in 80 — worse in some countries in cities. It hardly needs saying, but this can’t be down to changing fashions in diagnosis:… Read more »
Rachel
Rachel
4 years 2 months ago
My 5 year old nephew was diagnosed with Autism at age 2, which was about the time I found out about the Primal Blueprint. I keep begging my family to try a nutritional intervention, but they are unwilling because he is a “picky eater.” He likes lots of fruits and veggies, eats very little protein and fat, and of course lots of treats when being good. I can see the changes that come with crappy food choices (it only takes about 10 minutes for him to spin out of control), but they are unwilling to change his diet because he… Read more »
Graham
4 years 2 months ago

That’s what we did with my kids – eventually the snacks and treats run out and what’s left is eggs, bananas, salads, apples, bacon, chicken thighs, and other real food.

All my friends are like “OMG you’re so lucky that your kids will eat that.”

and I’m all “they would eat like your kids if I fed them like I was trying to kill them.”

Tim
4 years 2 months ago
One of our two sons is a very picky eater (he’s 8 now). We removed all the crud and give him the option to not eat if he doesn’t want the food but we always have lots of other options available (fruit, greens, meats). He’s found things he likes and we do still cater to him sometimes (i.e. with home made paleo ground chicken or turkey nuggets), but not nearly as much as we used to. He calls the burgers I make on Fridays “Angel Meat.” because he loves them so much which I find pretty funny. (No offense to… Read more »
Graham
4 years 2 months ago

Angel Meat! that’s so awesome!

There are times when my 4 year old still decided not to have dinner…some people would say I’m starving my child. I say intermittent fasting has proven health benefits!

ravi
4 years 2 months ago

– kids like choices – and it often distracts them from an analysis of what the choices are – if i offer a chocolate rice waffle against anything else – guess what she picks – but if i offer her an apple or a handful of nuts – she happily choose one or the other – (out of sight out of mind?)

we are funny creatures, us humans.

Bel
Bel
4 years 2 months ago
Good luck with your family. I hope they start listening. If it helps, here’s our short story: We went from being vegetarians to doing Primal/PHD/GAPS. The hardest transition was for my 2 year old who had eaten vegetarian his whole life. Thanks to advice from those on this forum, I learned that to acquire a taste for something, you just have to be exposed to a tiny bit of it the first time. Your brain will quickly determine that it is something good for you and make it palatable to you next time. My son loves soup, so we started… Read more »
Howard
4 years 2 months ago

“Nonetheless, these approaches prioritize”

Mark, you left of the rest of that sentence.

Nelly
4 years 2 months ago
This is a topic of extreme personal interest to me – I have three first cousins (all male) and one godbrother on the spectrum. The two cousins I see most often (the other lives in Brazil) have made enormous improvement following intensive music and play therapy from another cousin, a music therapist, but as far as I know they haven’t tried any diet-centered treatments. My godbrother’s family has adopted a super-clean grain-free WAPF-style diet (lots of raw milk and fermented veggies), and my godmother and I talked about how very clear the difference in his behavior is when he’s had… Read more »
Susan Kelly
Susan Kelly
4 years 2 months ago

Thank you so much for the information and the links, Mark. I’m sending them on to the doctors in my family, in the hope that they can do some good in the future.

Ilana
Ilana
4 years 2 months ago

Looks like there’s part of this sentence missing:

Nonetheless, these approaches prioritize

rabbit_trail
rabbit_trail
4 years 2 months ago

As a parent of two small boys, I really appreciate this article. I was already giving them cod liver oil and probiotics as a preventative measure. I’m going to add some b vitamins and magnesium baths.

Marissa
4 years 2 months ago

as a teacher of young children, i think it is so important that we get to the bottom of things like autism & adhd, etc. after being exposed to children with these, i fully believe nutrition & overall health (of both expectant mom & then child) play a huge role. i think excellent nutrition is vital before, during & after pregnancy to give baby the best possible chances of being healthy.

AndreaLynnette
AndreaLynnette
4 years 2 months ago
First, I want to say that I am a degreed teacher with a concentration and experience in teaching special needs children. I was also one of the first people diagnosed with ADHD. For me, getting onto a more natural (and now basically primal) diet, basically eliminated my ADHD as a problem. In this lifestyle, I have found that while the ability to see and hear everything going on around me is still there, it’s a feature now, not a bug. I can focus but still take in my surroundings in a way I think most people can’t. I believe, based… Read more »
sara
sara
4 years 2 months ago

I think blood sugar swings are a huge problem in schools too! When you look at what they’re serving it’s no wonder – lots of grains, fat free dairy & fruits. Where are the meats, veggies, healthy fats???

Craig
Craig
4 years 2 months ago

Unfortunately they are following the Food Pyramid. I think they call it the Food Pyramid because that is the shape your body takes if you follow it.

Cherice
Cherice
4 years 2 months ago

+100000!! Haha

bbuddha
bbuddha
4 years 2 months ago

LOL

solstice
solstice
4 years 2 months ago
yes yes yes…I feel I averted a diagnosis with my oldest. He was the most colicky baby, non verbal—only grunts, hardly ever smiled and many other issues. I kept telling my doc something was WRONG—but was ignored, likely because he was my first child and I was just “new” to parenting. I took things into my own hands. Right before his second birthday I removed all dairy from his diet and he finally had the first normal bowel movement of HIS LIFE! A few months later after researching GFCF, we took away gluten…within weeks he was TALKING—sentences and for the… Read more »
Paul N
Paul N
4 years 2 months ago
It sounds like, for the ADHD kids, many of them would (and do) benefit from a GAPS style diet, to identify and solve their gut problems. But how did it come to this? If we look at the deficiencies noted above (EPA/DHA, B vits, especially B12) it becomes obvious we are feeding the wrong foods to our kids. The gov advice of “low cholesterol” means we cut out oily fish, egg yolks, full fat dairy, and, of course, organ meats. Yet these are the foods that are richest in all these nutrients – and are what my grandmother insisted I… Read more »
Harry Mossman
4 years 2 months ago

I am self-diagnosed as borderline Asperger’s. E.g. before primal, I would scream inside if I tried to look at someone’s face. After being on primal for a while, it stopped being a problem. I had various other symptoms. I am convinced that primal helped significantly.

Karen
4 years 2 months ago

As a personal chef I have cooked for more than one family who had an autistic child. I was told by numerous extended family members that adhering to a specific diet made a huge difference for these young individuals. It is definitely a concept that should be more thoroughly explored.

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[…] Autism: A Brain or Whole-Body Disorder? | Mark’s Daily Apple. An interesting article on the relationship between autism and nutrition. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in Food, Health and tagged autism, caveman diet, food, health, nutrition, paleo diet, primal diet. Bookmark the permalink. ← Primal Anne’s Log Earth Date 11/7/2012 […]

Tom Bassett-Dilley
Tom Bassett-Dilley
4 years 2 months ago

Mark, I’m really impressed how you discuss this important and sensitive topic so well. Thank you, and thanks to all of those sharing their stories. We’re trying to figure out some things with our youngest child, and this gives me much to think about.

Running On Empty
Running On Empty
4 years 2 months ago
I have a son that is on the autism spectrum and is nonverbal. He is currently dairy free which has made huge improvement but he is still eating gluten. He has severe food intolerances, and has sensory issues. For example, if I serve him a food too warm or cold (must be perfectly room temp for him to eat) he will not eat for the rest of the day it offends his senses so bad. He WILL go to bed hungry if the food was unacceptable. He is already very very small and underweight for his age – he is… Read more »
Tim
4 years 2 months ago
Hiya, We do not have an autistic son, however we DO have a little engineer with very picky eating habits who will also go to bed hungry if nothing interests him. We ate a completely paleo diet too and have managed it by including other foods more often than we did before: such as sweet potatoes, (can be mashed, fried, cut into chips, baked, etc). Also, we make faux-tatoes a lot which is boiled cauliflower that is then processed until it’s a nice fine mush, just like mashed potatoes. Typically one adds some sour cream, chives and bacon to that… Read more »
pam
pam
4 years 2 months ago
This post comes as a big help to me as I have a four year old son that will only eat about 5 things and none of them great. At two and a half he was still not speaking but only grunting. Now his verbal skills are almost where they should be through therapy but his mood swings and behavior can go from angle to demon in a split second. I have often wondered if these issues would improve if his diet would change but am finding it very difficult to get him to eat ANYTHING. It helps to hear… Read more »
Tim
4 years 2 months ago
Good, I hope it does help. Despite the objections of much of my family regarding our ‘crazy diet’ both of our boys are thriving on it. They are smack dab in the center of the weight curve (neither over nor under) but at the very top of the height spectrum. I was worried about our older son’s weight too as he’s type 1 diabetic and was getting chubby before we went paleo but that’s gone now. He just had a full blood workup too and his endo was thrilled, they literally had nothing to say to use to improve things.… Read more »
Running On Empty
Running On Empty
4 years 2 months ago
Thanks Tim. I know I have got to just keep trying to introduce new foods to him. Currently I would say that his diet consists of about 80% bananas, peanut butter & jelly (home made wild fruit low sugar) and rice milk. A big part of the problem is that he will not eat anything that is wet or sticky. So mashed potatoes, soups, juicy fruits etc are out. We are working with feeding and developmental therapists so hopefully that will help. We just spend so much time trying to make sure he eats something – ANYTHING!
Bel
Bel
4 years 2 months ago
I replied above as well to another comment. My son is super underweight also. He’s 28 months and is 6 pounds under the growth chart. Not anywhere close to the growth chart. When we upped the fat and added in potatoes into this diet (like the Perfect Health Diet), he started gaining weight. He gained a pound in the last two weeks and grew an inch. My husband and I are small people and I still breastfeed him so I never expected him to be very high on the chart, but I’m happy to see he’s moving in the right… Read more »
Yvonne
Yvonne
4 years 2 months ago

Read The Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride and also look up GAPS on yahoo groups. There are at least two, mostly parents of autistic children. The book and the help groups state that the first few days of transitioning off the child’s preferred foods to a healing diet are very difficult, but that within a week the child changes dramatically and begins to really like the new food.

Jessica (@fringies)
4 years 2 months ago
I totally understand as my daughter was a preemie (born at 24 weeks, weighing 1# 1oz) and has always been small. As a toddler when she was so very picky it scared me to try to take out the foods that I knew she shouldn’t be eating for fear that she would eat even less. Now, finally, as a 10-year old, she has caught up to her peers. Every child is different and unique, but for mine it just took time and patience to wean her off those foods. Yesterday, we were driving home after a long day at Sea… Read more »
Jessica (@fringies)
4 years 2 months ago

Sorry, what I mean by “caught up to her peers” is that in terms of her weight and height. Socially, neurologically, and mentally she is still not typical.

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[…] need of nutrients than their typically functioning counterparts. … Read the original post: Autism: A Brain or Whole-Body Disorder? | Mark's Daily Apple ← Study in Medical Journal Looks at Relationship of Genetics in […]

Gabby
Gabby
4 years 2 months ago

Nutrigenomics is a new, up-and-coming, field in genetics. Fear not people, I think we’re getting through!!

Ma Flintstone
Ma Flintstone
4 years 2 months ago

Nice to hear this one. : )

sara
sara
4 years 2 months ago

I just want to say that my 2 year old can be a very picky eater & our tried & trued trick is smoothies.

He will eat anything in a smoothie (if it’s blended with fruit) – we add coconut oil, liver, probiotics, greens, etc. Give him a straw & he’s good to go!

He would live off dairy & fruit some days (if we let him) so I like to sneak in some extras with smoothies.

Linda
Linda
4 years 2 months ago

You never know,though, every kid is different — my ASD girl GAGS on smoothies! she is 11 and was willing to bargain with the devil in order to avoid smoothies! (ie, eat EGGS! Her top most-hated food!).

doghug
doghug
4 years 2 months ago

This post was perfect timing for me, I was wondering if SAD played a role in Autism. Thanks for the great post.

Mama2SPD
Mama2SPD
4 years 2 months ago
I normally just read daily and don’t comment but just had to on this one. I have a special needs child, my daughter who is 5. She was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder at 16 months old with associated severe gross and fine motor delays. We have spent a lot of time in various therapies and she had come a long way but we still had issues. I read pretty much everything I could find on how diet plays a role and slowly over time we made changes. We started by eliminating preservatives and food dyes etc (and discovered she… Read more »
Tim
4 years 2 months ago
That is heart warming to read. I’m so glad you’re finding some success with diet. Keep it up! I too have had major personality changes because of diet but it’s in a different direction. I’ve always wanted to write books and poems and draw and paint but never had any gumption to do so. The ideas kept piling up over time but like the children at an old orphanage no one ever took them anywhere. When we went low carb and then paleo… it was like the lights had been turned on inside my mental mansion. I began writing like… Read more »
momof2groks
momof2groks
4 years 2 months ago

Great Tim! What a cool story. Doesn’t it make you wonder what potential is just waiting in others to be unlocked by real food. i noticed one of your other replies was in the form of a clever poem, and it made me smile.

Tim
Tim
4 years 2 months ago
Thank you, I’m glad you liked the poem. And I agree with you… there’s so much limiting people, holding them back from being their best selves. It makes me sad that so many look to change their diet only when forced by a major health crisis. We came to it through trying to better manage our eldest son’s type 1 diabetes. We learned how Low carb can bring better control, which it did but it also banished my allergies and caused me to spontaneously lose more than 40 extra lbs… More research and time and we’re here, paleo and proud… Read more »
Paul N
Paul N
4 years 2 months ago

J. Stanton talks about a similar effect at his website (gnolls.org) – that, once you start to eat like a predator (paleo), you soon begin thinking like one – your senses are sharpened, you start to feel more bold and adventurous, likely to do spontaneous things, etc.
I know I have been more focussed with my work since going paleo.

Being rid of excess weight helps too.

Best of luck with your writing.

Gabby
Gabby
4 years 2 months ago

Amazing. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope the symptoms keep improving!

momof2groks
momof2groks
4 years 2 months ago
YES! I love this share. My son also has SPD and had PDD-NOS, and most of his behavioral concerns went away with the changes we made to his diet. Funny, he never slept through the night either, until I went gluten free. I was told this was due to my poor and permissive parenting, but gluten free for 2 days got me a 3 year old who slept for the first time in his life, a 5 month old who started napping for the first time in his life, and a husband who never could sleep who started sleeping well.… Read more »
Mama2SPD
Mama2SPD
4 years 2 months ago
It is amazing something like gluten can cause sleep issues, my husband and I were shocked when we discovered that seemingly benign food ingredient was behind our daughter’s poor sleep! I can always tell when my daughter has been accidentally “glutened” because the sleep issues and mood problems come back full force for a few days. Summer has been nice because she is always in my care so I know 100% she is gluten free and her sleep reflects that, last night she slept over 11 hours straight, that never used to happen! Thanks for the SLP tip, I will… Read more »
ravi
4 years 2 months ago

GLUTEN IS NOT BENIGN – GLUTEN IS NOT BENIGN (need i write it again??)

START HERE:
http://evolvify.com/the-case-against-gluten-medical-journal-references/

Tree
Tree
4 years 2 months ago
This is a great article! I’m sharing it with all my friends as I work with a lot of teachers of special children and I have many friends who also have children who are not neurotypical. Diet makes a HUGE difference. My daughter is 20 but was diagnosed with bipolar and a bunch of other issues when she was 9. We tried a few diet changes as she was growing up but nothing really seemed to work. Just over a year ago she “accidentally” went gluten free for a week. She had pasta at a friend’s house and by the… Read more »
Jim Hensen
Jim Hensen
4 years 2 months ago

I just want to point out that a primal type diet has shown to help out adhd and autism in some patients, but it is certainly not a cure and it doesn’t help everyone. I just want to point that out before people start claiming primal cures autism.

Ma Flintstone
Ma Flintstone
4 years 2 months ago

Cured my add.

Linda
Linda
4 years 2 months ago

Thank you for saying this. You have to try everything, and since Autism is a SYNDROME, not a disease, every child will respond to different things.

Autism Dad
4 years 2 months ago

Autism is a spectrum of disorders and for most kids autism is a disease, not a syndrome (environmentally triggered versus purely genetic). it is largely an autoimmune disease which affects the GI system which in turn affects the neurological system. Again, only some doctors like Dr. Herbert get this but many more are jumping on board to the fact that autism is largely environmentally triggered and its conditions can be mitigated and sometimes completely alleviated with dietary, homeopathic and medical interventions.

momof2groks
momof2groks
4 years 2 months ago

Thanks, Autism Dad. I think the issue is that there are different versions of what is labelled autism, and calling them all the same thing upsets people, because some kids have underlying medical issues that can be addressed to their benefit, and in other cases (genetic autism) maybe not so much.

momof2groks
momof2groks
4 years 2 months ago

I don’t think anyone is saying that. People are giving real life examples of how it has helped their families. It may not work for everyone, but it works for many. Therefore, it is worth discussing and sharing.

Pure Hapa
Pure Hapa
4 years 2 months ago

Mark, you didn’t address cause – and specifically the role the mother-to-be’s health plays in producing a healthy child. What a pregnant woman eats, doesn’t eat, how much sun she gets, etc. This is slowly coming into the awareness of the medical establishment, so you do a search and see lots of correlative studies coming out.

I guess cause may be beyond anyone’s bailiwick right now. Seems the only thing for certain is that we do not know what we are dealing with here.

Janene Dixon-Smith
Janene Dixon-Smith
4 years 2 months ago

Hi,
Fabulous article, I have a son with Aspergers Syndrome. This is a subject close to my heart.

M Peraaho
M Peraaho
4 years 2 months ago
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22099159 J Inorg Biochem. 2011 Nov;105(11):1489-99. Epub 2011 Aug 23. Do aluminum vaccine adjuvants contribute to the rising prevalence of autism? Tomljenovic L, Shaw CA. Neural Dynamics Research Group, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of British Columbia, 828 W. 10th Ave, Vancouver, BC, Canada V5Z 1L8. lucijat77@gmail.com Abstract Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are serious multisystem developmental disorders and an urgent global public health concern. Dysfunctional immunity and impaired brain function are core deficits in ASD. Aluminum (Al), the most commonly used vaccine adjuvant, is a demonstrated neurotoxin and a strong immune stimulator. Hence, adjuvant Al has the potential… Read more »
Tim
Tim
4 years 2 months ago

This is not a discussion about vaccines as they relate to Autism. This is about diet and how it may or may not affect the disorder.

momof2groks
momof2groks
4 years 2 months ago

It’s all part of the puzzle. Everything needs to be considered, not just one approach. It is a discussion of vaccines as well, because the approach Mark discusses includes, diet, supplements, and avoidance of environmental toxins.

Christina208
Christina208
4 years 2 months ago

There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle but I don’t think they all need to be aired out here- I think this is one that is a bit controversial and riddled with emotion. I am not going to say where I come out on this personally because I have upmost respect for both sides and I think this is an inappropriate venue to bring up something so emotionally laden.

ravi
4 years 2 months ago
no – and it is a very hot topic agreed – however, the poor diet can be likened to an open would that the vaccine is poured – salt-like – into – vaccines cannot be separated from a bad diet completely in these discussions as they add a whole convoluted layer of other complications that impact the body differently depending on your diet – the condition of your gut flora and on and on. i will never let my child get vaccinated – but i will also never her let her eat gluten grains, fast food, or almost anything processed.… Read more »
ravi
4 years 2 months ago

my response above was to Tim a couple posts above…

ravi
4 years 2 months ago

poor typing – “open wound”, (sorry)

Laurie D.
4 years 2 months ago
I have been doing some research on the MTHFR gene lately since I am homozygous for one version of it (A1289C). In my research, I noticed that there were several studies linking mutations in MTHFR to autism and to MS symptoms as well as anxiety, depression, and other neurotransmitter problems. There were also studies that said gluten and casein interfered with the methylation process even more. The more I look at this stuff, the more everything is intertwined – gut, brain, autoimmune diseases, the list goes on. The one thing in common to all – a primal diet is essential.… Read more »
Rachel
Rachel
4 years 2 months ago
My son has is an Aspie with severe sensory issues (touch, light, sound, smell, food textures, etc). He is just starting to go through puberty and his difficult behaviour is becoming worse and worse. My husband and I eat a paleo diet but he lives on milk and bread – he’s extremely fussy and trying to feed him food he doesn’t like always ends in a HUGE screaming meltdown. He will not eat any fruit AT ALL – in fact, if we are in the kitchen preparing or eating fruit he will leave the room because he can’t bare the… Read more »
Amanda
Amanda
4 years 2 months ago
Having lived (stressfully) with a partner with massive mood swings and mental idiosyncrasies for ten years, we finally found a nutritionist who immediately recognised his symptoms (where no other doctors could and who quickly prescribed anti-depressants).Tests were ordered and it was confirmed that he was suffering from pyroluria and was prescribed high doses of Vitamin B6, zinc and a magnesium supplement. In combination with a gradual decrease in carbs (especially sugar and grains…he was very resistant at first), the difference in his behaviour and temperament in a couple of weeks is nothing short of a miracle. I think society severely… Read more »
Maija Giganti
Maija Giganti
4 years 2 months ago

I think you are bringing up an important point (about Pyroluria). I’ve read that it may be tied in with a huge percentage (more than 50%) of autism (and depression, schizophrenia, etc.) cases. My son (age 5) and I are going to get the test done (he is very high functioning on the spectrum – healing him through nutrition -GAPS/Primal – and homeopathy). I think this may be our missing link….

Mary
Mary
4 years 2 months ago
I am a Behavioral Health Specialist, I work in the school system with all kinds of behavioral/emotional issues. I am so convinced that the poor diet of our children is a huge part of the problems the children are having. My problem is, I am not a dietician or a nutrition expert. I don’t want to take classes or get certified as one if they are going to try to feed me SAD guidelines. Does anyone know of a good program in Hawaii or online that would give me some credibility without having to lie about how nutritious I feel… Read more »
Samantha Moore
Samantha Moore
4 years 2 months ago

Excellent post.

Grok Fox
Grok Fox
4 years 2 months ago
My family and I have worked with adults and children with disabilities for years now. I consider it my life and my community. One of the most difficult hurtles I feel I assist people with is the fixation on food, and very often the wrong kinds, and diet choices built on bad information. That “it’s okay every once in a while” cookie comes a lot more often than nutritionalists would like to admit and the microwave dinners and lack of freshly made food is ubiquitous. Though recommendations are made to improve people’s nutrition I rarely see it followed through on.… Read more »
Nick
Nick
4 years 2 months ago

Fantastic post, Mark. I’ve always secretly suspected that autism is linked with our wonky lifestyle ways, but have never had any sort of studies to refer to. This is wonderful, and I really appreciate your layperson version – it makes it much easier to digest.

Elenor
Elenor
4 years 2 months ago
{sigh} This just makes me think more and more that I have some version of Aspie’s. All the sensory… well, my family (and I) have always viewed it as my “hysteria” and “hypersensitivity” … let’s call it sensitivities; my complete and total unwillingness to eat vegetables (yes, my gorge rises, and I have to spit it out) — and dammnit! I’m 56! Some reading raised the wistful hope that maybe supplementing with zinc would let me eat veg (nope). Magnesium? Not so far (but I still have hope). I cannot express how frustrating it is to wish to eat paleo/primal… Read more »
momof2groks
momof2groks
4 years 2 months ago

GAPS diet gives step-by-step implementations and phases. Perhaps even sipping bone broth could get you part of the way there? It’s a process, but well worth it. Good luck to you.

simpson
simpson
4 years 2 months ago
I’ve been working with my ADHD/oppositional son for over a year on diet. Problem is, he wants to “fit in” at school and resists even though he feels better on a good diet. For those who don’t have kids with special needs – this is way harder than it looks. You can be the best parent in the world and try to feed your kids the best food. But everyone else in their lives will feed them candy and freezy pops and get mad at YOU for suggesting that your kid shouldn’t eat that. I’ve gone 30 rounds with the… Read more »
Christina208
Christina208
4 years 2 months ago
AMEN. It defies comprehension that my 4 year old is bombarded with the garbage at school even after a celiac diagnosis. Keep fighting the good fight, there is nothing more powerful than the fierceness of a mother’s love. And yeah- it is so easy to make flippant comments about feeding your kids healthier food but until you’ve been treated like a moron by family members who are mad that your kid isn’t allowed to eat candy or found candy wrappers in your childs’ backpack you have no idea how hard it is to take those things all the out of… Read more »
Linda
Linda
4 years 2 months ago

TRULY. One teacher bought my ASD kid a HFCS soda, from the machine in the teachers’ lounge, never asked parents if this was okay!!! UGH! And there IS a district policy in place, against that. She had the gall to ask us for money for it afterward.

momof2groks
momof2groks
4 years 2 months ago
I dread this actually next year, his first year away from me all day. I already had to request NOT to get a certain teacher, who talked during the open house tour about how she loves to bake and make special treat with her K class…”brownies, stuffing, cookies, jello, lemonade….” My little guy tugged on my arm and said, “Mama, I can’t do any of that, I hope I don’t get this classroom.” I headed into the office with a Dr’s note for the diet, and said I do not want that classroom for my child. At this point, my… Read more »
Christina
Christina
4 years 2 months ago
How in the world are they allowed to do this? It is so frustrating! My child’s preschool class has FIVE children out of 15 with allergies and yet each parent would get assigned a snack week- pretty hard to provide snacks for an entire class with various peanut allergies, gluten allergies, and dairy allergies. Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s always means a backpack FILLED with actual candy. I don’t understand why kids need to be fed garbage in the same facility that is supposed to be building their minds- and with the ever increasing incidence of allergies, and even childhood obesity I… Read more »
ravi
4 years 2 months ago

one comment:

homeschool (yes it is a tough decision but what you are all dealing with at school and amongst “normal”peers sounds like more work to me…)

Christina208
Christina208
4 years 2 months ago

Ravi, I was homeschooled as a child and only wish I could afford to do the same:) It was a wonderful experience and if you are doing that for your kids, they are truly blessed!

Christina208
Christina208
4 years 2 months ago

My mother attempted to send a note to my down syndrome sister’s school some time back saying that she didn’t want her drinking cow’s milk because she had heard cutting out grains, dairy, and sugar had helped downs syndrome kids function better- and was told that it was against the law- that by law, she needed to drink the cows milk unless she had an allergy (that would have to be proved with blood tests and a dr. note). Totally despicable.

momof2groks
momof2groks
4 years 2 months ago
I’d say she should try and find a doctor who will write a note. (DAN! doctors might be a good place to start?) From what I have read, Down’s does have a lot of cross-over with ASD in the fact that there are methylation issues, depleted glutathione, and a very high rate of gluten intolerance. My son’s note says, “X is on a grain-free, dairy-free, corn-free, soy-free, low carbohydrate diet free from all artificial colors and preservatives. This is a medically necessary diet.” Yes, to anyone who just thinks the problems that plague this generation is just a result of… Read more »
Mama2SPD
Mama2SPD
4 years 2 months ago
It is hard, my son is the only kid at school with the healthy lunch! He gets lots of praise from the teachers but the kids look at his food like he is nuts for being willing to eat it. What helped me was to tell the school they are allergic to certain foods. This worked very well particularly with my special needs daughter! We also tell the children they are allergic/sensitive to certain foods and should not eat them, that has worked well too because now they will ask if a particular food has such and such ingredient in… Read more »
Clippies
Clippies
4 years 2 months ago

Would suggest everyone watches this lecture by Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride on Gut health and how it effects our health. She has had lots of success treating Autism ADHD etc with her GAPS diet which is basically paleo.

http://vimeo.com/10507542

Kristina
4 years 2 months ago

I am a moderator on the GAPSHelp Yahoo group and I read stories of autism being healed with a caveman diet all the time. The first stage of GAPS is meat, vegetables, fat, and homemade, fermented foods. It’s amazing what removing grains and other sugars will do.

Jenn
Jenn
4 years 2 months ago
Thank you for another interesting article and comments! I, too, have a son with Aspergers, and he is a very picky eater and very stubborn. He’ll go hungry rather than eat something that threatens his taste buds and oral sensory issues. As a result, he is very slim, though full of energy and life. He loves sandwiches, hot dogs,crispy/crunchy veggies but hates milk and meat. Good suggestions here in the comments to get your child to eat more nutritiously. Someone suggested getting your child to drink a smoothie with extra veggies and yums in it–I’ll have to try that. And… Read more »
Roger
Roger
4 years 2 months ago

the Article on Autism is spot on. As a supplement, please check out Stephanie Sereff’s article on Autism. She’s an MIT PHD and is amazing. Article is at http://stephanie-on-health.blogspot.com/2008/11/sunscreen-and-low-fat-diet-recipe-for.html
and she has many more on similar topics at her home page at MIT located here http://people.csail.mit.edu/seneff/
Her articles really moved me towards Primal. Hope it helps all.

Linda
Linda
4 years 2 months ago
I am glad you addressed this. I have a child with an ASD diagnosis (not classic autism), and I recently changed herto a higher protein diet, adding the “mitochondrial cocktail,” to her regimen, a collection of vitamins and supplements including CoQ-10, carnitine, and creatine. I have not seen an improvement, and do not really expect to, but I will happy if this helps her functioning in even the most subtle ways, and perhaps prevents degeneration. She does have a mutation in one of the respiratory chain enzyme genes, but our local children’s hospital genetic and metabolic dz department said it… Read more »
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