We receive many, many inquiries on starting a supplement and diet program for children on the autism spectrum. Everyone wants to help their family members on the spectrum, without wasting time and money. Let’s face it, time is all we have and going into bankruptcy, while chasing ideas, will not help our families get healthier, or more sane.
In my almost 10 years of working in nutrition consulting and in my persistent seeking as a mother of three children on the autism spectrum, I have seen what works, what may work and in some cases, what simply does not work. We like to start simple, use actual research and to go with the endless hours of work and experience other parents and professionals have had with their own patients and children. In addition, you simply do not have to go broke to help those you love and in many cases, those are the wild goose chases that will not get you where you want to go.
Over the decades, there has been much research into biomedical interventions into autism. (That is a fancy word for nutritional approaches). There are a couple diets and a handful of supplements that we recommend for all of our families, that we consult with. For some it will be life changing and for others it will be a starting place, but for almost everyone, you should see a real difference.
Diet: The Gluten Free/ Casein Free Diet is by far the most tried and true diet for children and adults on the Autism Spectrum. In some cases, you will see such a big difference with the Gluten Free, alone; however, because the proteins in gluten and casein are so similar int he body, it really is advised to do both gf/cf at the same time. Research from the Autism Research Institute showed that over 60% of families reported significant improvements on this diet. (It is recommended to supplement with calcium and vitamin d on this and most diets). The GF/CF diet is safe and we tend not to see any weaning issues, as long as the child or adult will eat a variety of other foods.
Another diet intervention is to determine food allergies and intolerance. A functional medicine doctor will do blood work for allergy sensitivities and then can help create a rotation diet. Depending int he severity of the sensitivities, a food may be completely eliminated, temporarily eliminated or simply limited. In our experience, the GF/CF is worth trying first because it has very good results and will prep the person for other eliminations.
Supplements: When we work with families,w e are able to better pinpoint specific supplements to help with behaviour and symptoms; however, there are certain supplements almost universally recommended for people ont he spectrum. We are simply going to recommend the top 4 here.
Multi Vitamin/ Mineral: For children, the Ocean Wonders or Incredivites Chewables. These are complete children’s’ vitamins that taste good and fill in lost nutrients. (We are not fans of gummy vitamins, unless a last resort. many dentists also warn against gummies).
Optiflora Pre and Pro Biotic– This is a triple encapsulated probiotic capsule that is very tiny and easy to swallow. For young children, it can be soaked to soften or chewed if needed, but we find that a spoonful of applesauce easily gets it down. It is triple encapsulated to guarantee delivery to the digestive tract. The pre-biotic is a tasteless powder than can be mixed into any drink or applesauce.
Omegagard– Full spectrum Fish oil Supplement. Omegagard is a pharmaceutical grade 7 spectrum fish oil supplement that guarantees NO MERCURY CONTAMINATION. Fish oil helps with brain function, inflammation, digestive swelling and many other issues our loved ones face, not to mention focus and behavior.
Calcium Magnesium– Calcium Magnesium helps to calm the heart rate and thus helps with hyperactive behaviors, inability to sleep and just generally helps to calm one down. For children, the chewable calcium magnesium can be used; while Osteomatrix is great for anyone who can swallow.
If we can answer specific questions for your family, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com