National Autism Awareness Month began in the 1970s as a way to promote understanding and, well, awareness of autism and how it affects families all over the world. The statistics on autism have gotten dramatically higher in the last few years, now predicting that one in 110 children will be born with autism.
From the Autism Speaks website: Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD). The other pervasive developmental disorders are PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified), Asperger’s Syndrome, Rett Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. Many parents and professionals refer to this group as Autism Spectrum Disorders.
While we do not know what causes autism, it is important to be aware and supportive of those with autism and the families of those with autism. Having an autistic child can take a lot of energy and place undue stress on a family. There are many great resources available for families, but your support is important too.
To celebrate Autism Awareness Month, we have guest blog posts lined up for every day of the month of April featuring kid-friendly gluten free, casein free recipes.
Why gluten free and casein free? While it doesn’t work for every autistic child, some parents have found great success in switching their child to a gluten free, casein free diet. The theory behind this therapy is that many autistic children were born with a leaky gut. A leaky gut could be caused by several factors, one prevailing theory is a bad reaction when a child is immunized. A leaky gut allows the passage of certain nutrients through the intestinal lining into the blood stream where they travel to the brain and cause disruptions and behave similar to opiates. When you think about autism in the context of opiates, it’s not much of a stretch to see how difficult it would be to communicate your needs under heavy sedation. Now, we’re not saying that autistic kids are sedated, we’re just drawing a comparison for what it would be like to live in a world where you were constantly battling against an opiate to communicate. The two nutrients thought to cause these disruptions are gluten (a protein in wheat, rye and barley) and casein (a protein in cow’s milk). Hence, a gluten free/casein free diet! When these two proteins are removed from the diet, many parents see a significant difference in their children.
Here are some great resources for autism information and support.
Also: Check out this preview for Wretchers and Jabberers, a new movie about two men and their journey with autism. It’s definitely on my must-see movie list for 2011.