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Nutrition for Autism: Putting it into Context

October 16, 2012 by Joanna Drake, Registered Dietitian

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As much as I enjoy writing, I didn’t enjoy taking English literature in school.

The curriculum always seemed short sighted. Being asked to answer questions such as “What did the author mean when he cast a shadow of a blackberry on the tail of the bluebird?” felt ridiculous and insignificant. I didn’t really care what something meant to the author (a stranger to me).What I wanted to be asked was: “What does this mean to you right now?”

Individual context is important.When making decisions for myself and my family, I always try to consider the entire context in which I’m making them. The context includes what resources are available to me and any limitations: information, time, money, opportunity, etc. It’s harder to regret a decision when I know that I considered everything I could at that moment.
 
When my daughter was diagnosed with autism two years ago, this added to the context in which our family makes decisions. Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that individuals with autism vary greatly in terms of their developmental impairment. While my daughter has many positive things going for her, she is (we are) going to face challenges throughout her life. As her parent, I am constantly evaluating – within the context of what resources we have available – what we can do to make her life easier and more fulfilling.

Many parents ask about the role of nutrition in autism therapy. The most common diet people consider is the gluten-free, casein-free diet. There’s limited evidence in support of this diet, but research is ongoing. As such, the decision to try the diet should be made within the child’s and family’s context. Many children with autism have significant food aversions and struggle to maintain a healthy weight. A restricted diet will make this more challenging. This diet is also more expensive and requires time and expertise to implement properly. The family needs to have the financial resources and information to follow the diet effectively.

To date, we don’t know the “right” diet for children with autism. In the end, there probably isn’t one perfect diet. Each child is different and needs to be assessed independently. If your child has autism and you would like to discuss their eating and nutrition, you can speak with a Registered Dietitian at HealthLinkBC by calling 8-1-1 toll-free in B.C.



Related Posts:

Recommended Resources:

  • Autism Community Training (ACT) – ACT is an information and referral service that supports individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families across British Columbia.
  • Autism Society of British Columbia (ASBC) – ASBC is a parent based and directed society the helps to provide support to individuals with autism and their families in British Columbia. It’s a non-profit, registered charity.
  • Canucks Autism Network (CAN) – CAN provides year round, innovative, high quality sports, recreational, social and vocational programs for individuals and families living with autism. Their vision is to be a leader in enhancing the quality of life for families living with autism in British Columbia.
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