Comment re: Autism diet: Are claims true? Autism families need help, not opinionated discouragement from our nations leading scientific institutions. Why do organizations such as the Mayo Clinic spend time and effort trying to maintain a status quo that offers few helpful options. I believe it is irresponsible for them to try to prevent people from trying something that might be helpful. Isn’t the purpose of science to observe, question, and test? Since when does science defend doing nothing, and how can Mayo Clinic nutritionists NOT believe — diet helps, period! Would they recommend that a diabetic do nothing—not change their diet because it is “neither easily introduced nor easily followed long term” or “you might not see a benefit.” (as they state about autism diets). Are these good reasons not to try something that’s proven beneficial to so many? They use misleading statements like “Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence to conclusively support or deny the claims that these autism diet interventions can or will make a significant improvement in the functioning of the child.” What are they looking for? There are numerous studies indicating that nutrient deficiencies, food allergies and intolerances, and digestive problems are common among children with autism. You can see some of these on my blog, and over two hundred scientific references in my book, Nourishing Hope. These authors tout the mainstream party line of denial by saying “there is no evidence to support or deny the claims?” (that autism diets help). Wouldn’t their time be better spent looking at the existing and emerging research rather than waiting for one single definitive study with a 100% efficacy rate that proves or disproves it? Parents and other laypersons depend on experts with nutrition knowledge to distill the information, study the claims and find answers to support or deny claims based on their knowledge and research. The research IS out there if one LOOKS for it. The authors state, “As a dietitian, I feel my place in this debate is to inform an interested parent or family member of the complexities of the gluten free casein free diet.” It seems they see it as a DEBATE that needs to be argued against and that her job is to inform parents of the COMPLEXITIES. I feel very differently. As a Certified Nutrition Consultant, I should explore what parents are experiencing in their real world applications. My role is to investigate why autism diets are working. My role is to notice how it helps a percentage of children. My role is to apply my nutrition and biochemical understanding to why it helps, and how it can be utilized to help restore health. My role is to identify any downside (which by the way, is small). And finally, my role is to support parents, to teach them that diet DOES help, to help them learn how to implement diet, overcome obstacles, and help them do it healthfully. My role is not to discourage them because diet may be challenging, or because one may not receive maximal results. The authors find it important to remind parents that they “may or may not see any improvement in your child’s condition.” Why would they prepare people for disappointment? Thousands of parents have found autism diets helpful. Just because it is not 100% effective (what is?) they insinuate that it may not be worth trying – because they may not see improvement. In the real world, not seeing improvement is just an invitation to evolve the diet even further – because for most, giving up is not an option – and trying is always better than not. The authors appropriately suggest that parents work with a qualified, nutritionist specializing in the gluten-free/casein-free diet and autism, and to expect that you will need routine appointments to work through the challenges of introducing and following a specialized diet to avoid nutrient deficiencies and build good health. While there is no magic bullet, countless parent experiences indicate that nourishing hope is worth it – no matter what the mainstream naysayers believe. As a Nutrition Consultant who has worked with autism for more than six years, I can tell you that diet does help and it is always worth trying! Julie Matthews Certified Nutrition Consultant
Comment on Mayo Clinic’s story: "Autism Diet: Are claims true?"
Julie Matthews is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and Educator, globally respected nutrition expert, published researcher, and accomplished author. Her guidance is backed by over twenty years of clinical experience and scientific research with complex neurological and physiological needs; particularly autism, ADHD, and related disorders. Julie is the award winning author of Nourishing Hope for Autism and also the founder of BioIndividualNutrition.com. Download her free guide, 12 Nutrition Steps to Better Health, Learning, and Behavior.