I got pretty proficient at giving Nate his enzymes before any food, and he got pretty used to taking them, though they tasted bad. We continued to see some behavioral improvements in him, and he started doing a bit better at his therapies (speech, OT, PT, behavioral/ABA).
Then, we found out that there was a special biomedical autism treatment center opening up in my parents’ small town in Virginia. The main doctor there was even a doctor I had already read about. With my grandmother’s help, we were able to schedule an appointment for Nate for the next time we would be visiting Virginia!
In anticipation of this appointment, I read about the recommendations the center usually makes. One of them was to go gluten-free and casein-free. Although the appointment was a month away, I didn’t want to waste our precious appointment by talking about a diet change that I could have already made. So, in November 2007, 8 months after Nate’s diagnosis, he went GFCF.
That first day was rough. It was going along OK–though he had been indicating all day that he wanted cookies and crackers–until we went to my in-laws’ house, where they ordered pizza. Nate did not understand why I wouldn’t let him have any, and he had a major meltdown. It was like an addict being denied the substance he is addicted to.
From Dangerous Grains by Ron Hoggan:
The addictive nature of gluten is often overlooked. For some, the first days and weeks of following a gluten-free diet are characterized by food cravings, disorientation, irritability, sleepiness, depression, mental fogginess, fatigue, and/or shortness of breath.
If you are a member of this group, the very fact that you are experiencing many of these symptoms should reinforce the need to exclude gluten from your diet. These are common symptoms of withdrawal of detoxification from gluten-derived opioid and brain neurochemical imbalances.
Things continued to seem worse–not better–for at least a few weeks after removing gluten and casein. But that meant things were working!
This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.