Autism and Gluten & Casein-Free Diets

Image Credit: Flickr / mattbeckwith


Discovering the Ins & Outs of Autism Diagnosis

In April 2010 I was about to get an answer to the question I needed answered more than anything…“Does my child have Autism?”

We had suspected that our then six year old Adrian had Autism since about 12 months old. He just was not progressing like our first child had. I kept putting it off, telling myself ‘every child is different he will catch up’.  But that day never came.

At age three Adrian started an ECSE (Early Childhood Special Education) program through our public school system. Within months, I had a completely different child. He could now talk, and we started learning about what Adrian needed. I asked about Autism at this time and my son’s teacher said he was too young for that diagnosis. I did not fight that assumption until later on.  Deep down, I knew he was autistic, but I was still in denial.

He did the ECSE from 2007 to 2010. Three years. In March 2010, I started asking about Autism again. He had had genetic testing done in 2009 as prep for Autism testing because the school wanted us to have a private evaluation done before they would start there’s. We went to a Neuropsychological practice. It took from April 11, 2010 when Adrian took the tests to May 28,2010 to get results. It was 10 am when we got the news. Adrian had PDD-NOS with something called SPD, I had never heard of before, and mood disorder.

I bawled. I was fully expecting an autism spectrum disorder, but having the answer brought on so many emotions.

We started learning more about Autism and Adrian’s needs.  We found out that PDD-NOS falls into high functioning range, which he had not always been but certainly was at the time of the testing. We got the full report by PDF and I saved it to my computer.

We were depressed for a long time. But, then in August 2010 we went to a support group meeting. The group met once a month and my husband, mother and Jade (my daughter) and Adrian went. At one of these meetings I won a book by Jenny McCarthy, Louder Than Words. I read the book and remembered Adrian’s psychologist saying something about GFCF diets.  We had been thinking about starting, and had eliminated some items, but I didn’t really start until after reading this book. I went to this site about Going GFCFSF in 10 weeks. This was a link I found at the back of Jenny McCarthy’s book for going GFCF.


Photo Credit: Flickr / elana's pantry


Starting a GFCF Diet

Gluten is a binding agent used in wheat products envelope seals some lotions and a varitey of other items. Casein is a protein found in dairy products. In some people with Autism these items can make digestive processing difficult, acting like opitates in the blood stream and causing GI issues. My son had been diagnosed with GERD and on Previcad since 2007, so it made sense and we decided to try a GFCF diet. I let the school know and Adrian’s pediatrican started us in the process.

One thing I discovered is that there is more gluten in food items than I ever thought possible. We started by eliminating wheat. This meant buying only chex cereal because it is gluten-free. Then I found UDI’s Gronola on, so we started buying that. We bought one sampler pack a month. I believe there are six flavors.

Adrian was not allowed to have bread at all. His school sent home information about Gluten-free eating from our local grocer, Meijer, so we started shopping there. They have a wonderful selection of Gluten and Casein-free foods.  Next we eliminated dairy, all dairy. That meant no milk, cheese, eggs, butter, ice cream or yogurt. We only gave him water and 100% fruit juice to drink for the first week. Then I started buying soy milk and introducing it to him. He Loved it. We found more great “milk” products too. Silk Pure Almond and Pure Coconut milks are his favorites. I started to find other things too, for instance Silk also makes yogurt that is Casein-free and I found a coconut milk ice cream.

It was a long process, but since elimination, Adrian has had fewer GI issues.  At his last doctor’s visit his pediatrician said he could be taken off the Prevacid soon. He also does not blankly stare or lay on the floor lethargic anymore.  He is talking more and interacting with my husband and I more too. This diet may not work for all children. I have heard several parents say they never saw a difference. All you can do is try. People living with Celiacs diesease also will need to follow a Gluten-free diet and other auto-immune diseases may be helped by following this diet as well.


My Top Five Favorite GFCF Products

Silk produces a varity of products. Adrian loves their soy milks.  Silk also manufactures Soy yogurt, Almond milk and coconut milk in a variety of flavors. My son loves the Dark Chocolate Almond milk. The only place I have found Silk yogurt is at Meijer in my area, but you can also find locations on the Silk website.

French Meadow Bakery
So far we have only purchased the White bread and multigrain bread. Adrian loves the white bread best. I find this at Plumbs, but you can also check out the French Meadow Bakery website.

Bob’s Red Mill
We have tried their Gluten-free pizza crust. It turns out pretty good. You can find Bob’s Red Mill just about anywhere. I believe even Walmart may sell it.

Enjoy Life
Adrian enjoys there bar type snacks that come in a variety of flavors and especially loves their Snickerdoodle cookies.  Learn more at the Enjoy Life website.

They make a lot GFCF Pretzels, bread, crackers, I buy them at Meijer because they have a wide selection.  Adrian loves pretzels and will eat them non-stop so we make sure we have enough.  More about Glutino.


Everything I have mentioned here can also be bought in bulk or single at if you do not have a distributor in your area.


Susan Treptow lives in West Michigan with her family.  She is the mom of two children ages 10 & 7. In 2010, her youngest was diagnosed with PDD-NOS or High Functioning Autism. She writes about our life as a spectrum family on her blog The Spectrum Mom.