Dietary interventions are based on the idea that 1) food allergies cause symptoms of autism, and 2) an insufficiency of a specific vitamin or mineral may cause some autistic symptoms. If parents decide to try for a given period of time a special diet, they should be sure that the child’s nutritional status is measured carefully.
• Gluten-free, casein-free diet: Some parents have found this diet was helpful to their autistic child. Gluten is a casein-like substance that is found in the seeds of various cereal plants – wheat, oat, rye, and barley. Casein is the principal protein in milk. Since gluten and milk are found in many of the foods we eat, following a gluten-free, casein-free diet is difficult.
• Vitamin B6, taken with magnesium: Magnesium makes the vitamin B6 more effective. The result of research studies is mixed; some children respond positively, some negatively, some not at all or very little.
• Secretin: In the search for treatment for autism, there has been discussion in the last few years about the use of secretin, a substance approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a single dose normally given to aid in diagnosis of a gastrointestinal problem.