Mission Statement: This blog was created to provide information on getting help for autism in general while focussing on locally available resources for families with newly diagnosed children in Belleville and Quinte area.

Please browse the blog at your leisure. You are welcome to comment on the posts. If you are a parent, an autism consultant, counselor, teacher with information on autism resources available in our area, please email your information to benziesangma@gmail.com. Your information will be added within 24 hours.

Local Autism Support Groups

Parents Engaging Autism Quinte (PEAQ), an autism parent support group, meets once a month on the first Tuesday of the month (no meetings in January, July and August) at Kerry's Place, 189 Victoria Avenue, Belleville at 6:30 to 8 p.m. If you have questions or suggestions for autism topics that are important to you please go to our FaceBook account and post your suggestions so that we can invite appropriate autism professionals to speak at these meetings. There won't be any meeting in December but we are taking local families supporting individuals with moderate to severe sensory challenges to the Christmas Event at the Children's Safety Village half an hour prior to the event being opened to the public.

Autism parent support group meeting hosted by Mental Health Agency, Trenton and Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC) meeting is on the Second Thursday of the month from 6 to 7:30 p.m. If you have require any further information please contact Marya Peters for more information at 613 392-2811 ext 3953 or email marya.p@trentonmfrc.ca

For info on Community Living Prince Edward County Parent Support group, contact Resource Consultants @ 613 476 6038

Central Hastings Autism Support Group meets in Madoc at the Recreation Centre. Contact Renee O’Hara, Family Resource & Support, 613-966-7413 or Tammy Kavanagh, Family Resource & Support, 613-332-3227

Strategies for challenging behaviours

Monday, January 12, 2009

Gluten free diet and autism

I recently attended the meeting of the Belleville Chapter of Autism Ontario during which a presentation on gluten-free diet for autistic children was given by a mother who has found the elimination diet successful with her own.
I knew very little about this particular elimination diet process and its potentially positive effect on the behaviour of autistic children and found myself listening with interest as the presenter took the audience through the saga of how she introduced the plan, the resistance she met from her children at first and her family's gradual adaptation to the new system.
On my return from the presentation I decided to dig into the subject some more. The following is a brief summary of what I found on the subject and thought is a great introduction on the subject, what it is and if it is for everybody dealing with autism.
The source for the following: Autism Canada website
A gluten-free diet is an eating plan in which gluten (grain protein) is eliminated from the diet. Foods and drinks containing wheat, barley, rye, oats or anything made from these grains are avoided. A gluten-free diet is often, if not always, used in combination with a casein-free diet, which calls for the elimination of milk protein (casein). Both diets are called elimination diets because a particular type of food is virtually eliminated from the child's meals and snacks.
Proponents of the gluten-free diet say that many children with autism have gastrointestinal difficulties that make it hard for them to digest certain grains properly. There are different possibilities for ways in which this could affect children with autism. The most studied theory is that eating gluten leads to high levels of protein by-products, called gluteomorphines, in some children with autism. These by-products may then affect behavior like a drug would. Specifically, in these children, gluteomorphines could reduce their desire for social interaction, block pain messages, and increase confusion. If gluten is taken out of the diet, the idea is that this will reduce the level of gluteomorphines, and behavior will improve as a result.
Parents who choose a gluten-free diet for their child must become aware of the ingredients of everything in their grocery cart. Products containing wheat, barley, rye, or oats in any form should not be purchased. Maintaining a gluten-free diet can be hard at first because gluten is present in many prepared foods. However, parents can take a gluten-free cooking class or read a gluten-free cookbook to learn how to cook without gluten and still provide enough nutrition for the child.
The effectiveness of elimination diets in improving the behavior of children with autism has only recently been scientifically researched. This research has almost always examined diets that are both casein- and gluten-free.
One well-controlled study focused on children with autism who had abnormally high protein by-products in their urine, and therefore were more likely to be sensitive to casein and gluten. One group of these children was fed a strict casein- and gluten-free diet for 12 months. This group had significantly fewer autistic symptoms than the remaining children, who were not fed this diet. Another well-controlled study of casein- and gluten-free diets focused on children with autism regardless of the level of protein by-products in their urine. Overall, the study found no significant differences in behavior between children on the elimination diet and children on regular diets, although individual parents reported behavioral improvements. This overall lack of effect in the second study could be because the elimination diet only lasted 6 weeks, or because the children were not pre-selected according to the level of protein by-products in their urine.
Regardless, in both cases, the tested diets were casein- and gluten-free, so it is not clear whether it was the elimination of casein, gluten, or both that resulted in any improvements. A third study that did examine the effect of a gluten-free diet on the behavior of children with autism did not compare children on the elimination diet with children not on the diet. Therefore, even though there were improvements seen in the behavior of children on the diet, these may also have occurred over the 5 months of the study without the elimination diet.
Also, read http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080807175440.htm

In it for the long haul...

I created this blog with my sincere wish that those of you reading this will want to share your own stories, both good and bad, what worked for you and what didn't and together, we can make it easier for the next family beginning their own journey of discovery. By posting what you know, where you have recieved certain services, who you have talked to, whose expertise you trust, how you navigated the school education services and by responding to questions in the discussion thread, know that you have helped a family in need. So, parents, experts in the field, counsellors, teachers and everyone who has any information on resources available, please feel free to post on this blog.