Autism, PDD, Aspergers
Autism used to occur in about 15 of every 10,000 births (1 in 667 children) but that number has risen until today more than 1 in every 100 children is on the "autism spectrum." Autism has gone from a rare disorder to a syndrome that is tragically common in the U.S.
Autism is a spectrum disorder, so there is great variety in symptoms and severity, but the following characteristics are usually present:
Difficulty with communication
Difficulty relating to other people
Difficulty making eye contact
Resistance to change
Sensory problems: abnormal reactions to sound, light, touch, texture of food, etc.
Poor digestive system, constipation, diarrhea
Some claim that there are the same number of autistic children as there have always been but that we are just better at identifying the problem. If this were true, it would mean that there would be hundreds of thousands of autistic adults - "Rainmen" - in our midst. It would also imply that parents are not capable of noticing when their child, who had been developing normally, suddenly loses his ability to speak or to relate to them.
Conventional medicine has little to offer the families of autistic children. However, many parents, physicians, and other professionals have used a wide variety of non-drug methods to help the children, and there have been impressive results. But both mainstream medicine and the government agencies responsible for dealing with these issues remain unconvinced.
Over the years, our newsletter, Pure Facts, has reported on many of the approaches that have been used to help children with autism. In 2007, the April and June issues were devoted to summarizing some of the major efforts to help these children, as well as to explain the subject.
The Autism Research Institute has reported that 56% of 899 families who had tried the Feingold diet found that it was helpful for their child. See ARI's Parent Ratings of all Treatments.
While autism is extremely complex, and there may be multiple causes, a diet that removes harmful additives is an important piece of the puzzle. Sometimes we hear back from families whose child had been diagnosed as autistic, only to have the diagnosis dropped once they went on the Feingold Program; but for most families, nutrition is only a part of the answer.