What is Autism? It’s a question that many people ask. According to the CDC, about 1 in 36 children have been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
(Data & Statistics on Autism Spectrum Disorder) This statistic for Americans is vastly higher than the World Health Organizations estimate of 1 in 100 children worldwide. Why is Autism so common and on the rise in America? Why is it happening to our children? This article written by a registered dietitian comes from a perspective on the current nutrition research and recommendations for those with autism and their families.
The symptoms and behaviors of those with autism can vary greatly, as autism is a “spectrum” disorder, meaning that the disorder can manifest in a number of different ways. Those with Autism may have:·
Difficulty being social and interacting with others in a social setting.
- This includes behaviors such as making eye contact, and participating in social activities, and participating in social eating settings effectively
Difficulty communicating – people with autism can struggle with both communicating verbally and nonverbally, such as understanding when someone else is being sarcastic or explaining why they are not willing to eat their meal.
A tendency to repeat behaviors continuously – such as repeating the same word more than once, or eating the same few foods over and over again.
A tendency to be restricted in their interests – this can sometimes make it difficult for those with autism to try new foods or develop a taste for new foods.
The research that is currently being performed in relation to autism and health largely involve the microbiome, which is our gut and the (trillions of cells of) gut bacteria that live in our gut. Some of this research is showing that certain species of “good” bacteria in our gut, such as bifidobacteria and prevotella, are not in high enough numbers in those with autism. Also, those with autism may have higher levels of “bad” bacteria such as clostridium and desulfovibrio. This information makes the conversation of a high-quality probiotic an important one.
As far as nutritional recommendations for autism, there is some research to suggest that a gluten-free, dairy-free diet (GFCF diet) may help those with autism.
Many people with autism have sensory sensitivities to foods and specifically food textures, which can make eating better for autism sometimes challenging. And because there are many people with autism who tend to favor hyperpalatable ingredients that have gluten and dairy, working with a registered dietitian can be a helpful way to figure out how to include foods that are preferable to someone with autism while altering the ingredients in efforts to improve symptoms.
Here is the link to start working with one of the dietitians for autism with Inc Nutrition: www.incnutritionllc.com/discoverycall
If you are curious about learning more on the web about autism, here is the link for a reliable resource: https://www.autismspeaks.org/