Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects about 1 in 59 children. ASD usually presents itself in children by the age of 2 and symptoms of the disorder can make it hard for children diagnosed with it to communicate and interact socially. There are traditional treatment methods that mostly include therapy and in some cases, medicine to help children with autism, but there is no known cure. This leaves many parents eager to try non-traditional treatment methods that may help their children to have a better quality of life.
The elimination of gluten, a protein found mostly in wheat, barley, and rye has been correlated with the reduction of symptoms in various diseases and disorders, ASD included and as a result, a gluten-free diet is one of the alternative treatments for children with autism that has grown in popularity recently. Following a gluten-free diet is simple in the sense that it just requires eliminating all foods that have gluten in them.
Claims have been made that this diet is effective because children with ASD are allergic or sensitive to gluten and eliminating it from their diets can help to reduce symptoms. There are some parents who have followed this diet strictly and have reported positive changes in behavior but there has been very little actual research done on the effects of a gluten-free diet, until now.
A new study recently published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders took a look at 66 children, ages 3 to 5 years old who had ASD. The study was conducted over 6 months and during that 6 month period of time, 33 of the children were to follow a strict gluten-free diet, while the other 33 were to follow a regular diet. After 6 months, the children were re-evaluated and the study found that there were no differences in observed ASD symptoms regardless of whether or not the child followed a diet that contained gluten or not.
While this study proved that following a gluten-free diet won't help to reduce ASD symptoms, there are many other forms of alternative treatments that parents can implement into their daily lives. Parents of children with ASD and ASD sufferers are also hopeful that research about this disorder will continue and that with each new study, scientists and medical professionals will come closer to a cure.