Diet is helpful in about 85% of children with autism. This is an amazing success rate with very little downside. While diet may not help every child, it helps most. If you are one of those families who feel diet “didn’t work” for them, give diet one more try.
The top two reasons I have found that diet has not helped is because 1) the diet was not done completely or for long enough, or 2) there was something else in the diet or environment interfering with the positive results you would otherwise be seeing.
All of the autism diets, particularly the GFCF diet, needs to be done 100%–no infractions, period. This means the complete elimination of dairy including butter, no infractions from the teacher or grandma, and no wheat-based cake at a birthday party. Additionally, the diet needs to be done for long enough for particularly the gluten to get out of the body, a minimum of 3-6 months or longer. Many families benefit from trying the diet again with a commitment to 100% compliance for 6 months.
Second, sometimes a food remains in the diet that is problematic or new food is substituted in that is also a problem. These other foods mask the benefits that would otherwise be seen on the diet. A very good example of this is children that have a sensitivity to phenols (in apples and grapes and other fruits for example). When gluten and casein are removed, the child may have some improvements that are subtle, but the phenols creating hyperactivity or aggression mask the subtle benefits of the diet. In fact, sometimes, these other foods are added in greater quantity than before—so the child seems “worse” on the new diet. This can be a more complex situation and you may benefit from help from a nutrition professional.
Either way, with the great benefit often reported from parents it’s worth trying diet again.