Diet for an Autistic Child
Autism Spectrum Disorder or ‘Autism’ is a clinical condition that is used to describe a group of disorders that affect the neurological system of a child and leads to unusual behavioral patterns. The common symptoms of autism may include:
- The trouble with social communication and interaction.
- Unusual behavior pattern with mood swings.
- Uncommon food preferences with reduced interest.
- Redundant activities or game patterns.
- The trouble with cognitive-motor skills like picking up small objects etc.
- Personalized frenzy effects might be seen in some individuals when severe.
Is There Any Treatment for Autism?
Till date, conventional treatments have not been much successful in curing Autism but the recent practice of regenerative therapies have shown a ray of hope as repairing of the neurological damaged tissues is a possibility now! Besides treatments, therapies like behavioral and occupational have always been a great help for children with autism as these post-treatment therapies help children cope up with their peers by encouraging education, skill development, and socialization.
Are there any Specific Diet Options for Autism?
Children with autism generally limit their food interests and choices which takes a toll on their nutrition intake. Autistic children even have a different metabolism than a normal individual. Although a lot of research is ongoing to understand the metabolism and the necessary diet for autistic child, it is always best to consult an expert paediatrician or nutritionist before making children follow a routine intake of dietary supplements. As of now, let us discuss some general necessary nutrition that children with Autism should have in their food.
Vitamins and Minerals
Research has shown that multivitamins can help in improving digestive and sleep problems in autism conditions. Moreover, vitamin B6 has been linked with behavioral improvements in autistic children. Children surviving with autism are often low in iron and magnesium due to their choosy dietary habits. But regardless of the situation, one should always get the mineral levels checked by a professional before providing any form of supplements.
Children with autism generally have low omega-3 levels and optimum levels of omega-3 fats can help with hyperactivity issues in autistic children.
Gluten-Free and Casein-Free Diet
The Gluten-Free and Casein-Free Diet has been proven to be efficient for children with autism. Gluten is the main protein in wheat, barley, rye and spelt. Casein is the main protein in dairy products such as cow’s milk, yoghurt, and cheese. Researchers believe that as autistic children often function in an over-stimulated state, it directs the flow of blood more towards body movements than the digestive tract. This makes it difficult for autistic children to digest food with gluten and casein. This diet may also help in behavioral improvement but to establish such a condition, more research is required.
How to Decide the Best Diet for an Autistic Child??
As discussed earlier, autistic children with limited food choices might be at a higher risk for nutrient deficiencies but instead of making their diet lack certain nutrition, why not find an alternative for them? One can eat rice products instead of gluten products by shifting to rice pasta, rice cakes etc. Corn products like corn pasta or corn cereal are also on the list. Moreover, rice milk can be used to substitute dairy milk. Another important point is mitigating any sign of processed foods like cookies, butter, or baked goods that contain dairy components by checking thoroughly the label of the food.
But before putting children on any special diet, a thorough consultation is required to check if he/she is facing a lack of some nutrients due to limited food intake or restricted diet. An expert dietitian can do a complete nutrition assessment and accordingly discuss the required diet ideas for an autistic child.