Last week I wrote about the GFCF diet including what it was, why it is supposed to help and foods to avoid. In the future, I will share some of the brands and recipes I have found which are both gluten and dairy free.
Today I want to talk about the signs that made us try the GFCF diet and improvements we have seen since. Like I mentioned in the last post I cannot say that this diet will have the same results for you as we achieved.
Crying at loud noises
When he was younger Aidan loved the hoover – so much so we bought him a mini henry. All of a sudden for no apparent reason the hoover would make him hysterical. Finn crying, the hedge trimmer, lawnmower – any loud noises really, would have him in complete meltdown with him crawling up into my arms.
Since changing his diet, he no longer cries at the hoover, Finn, lawnmowers and such 95% of the time. If he is tired or having a bad day then Finn’s crying can tip him over the edge but the changes overall in regards to noises are incredible!
Another flag for autism is abnormal sleep patterns. This can be having no sleep or having an above average amount of sleep. Aidan was the latter – he would sleep for 13-15 hours at night as well as a 2-3 hour nap in the day. When he was asleep it was next to impossible to wake him. He slept like a rock.
Since the change in food, he now sleeps 10-12 hours a night depending on if he has a nap during the day. His daytime naps are still around 2 hours when he does take them but he sleeps a lot lighter.
Random hysterical laughter
This one sort of goes hand in hand with the sleep because it happened a lot at bedtime. We would put him to bed only to listen to him laugh hysterically for 30-40 minutes. It would happen in the day time too where he would stare off into space and start laughing.
And now, he never does this anymore. Not even once since the switch. This is probably the sign which makes me think that the ‘leaky gut’ theory is more than just a theory. As I mentioned in the previous post it is believed that gluten and dairy are believed to turn into an opioid substance within the body of a child with autism. These opioids are believed to interfere with brain function but also act like other opioids (heroin, etc.) which are known to give ‘the giggles’ during withdrawal as suppressed emotions are reignited.
Personally, I think this was the hardest one to cope with. Aidan was living on a diet of apples, bananas, milk, bread and pasta. That and the odd biscuit was all I could get him to eat for the longest time. As you can imagine this meant that the GFCF diet was cutting out a large portion of his diet which was worrying but I decided that it couldn’t get any worse.
The first day of the diet (because I kept notes of everything he ate during the switch), he had apples, bananas, GFCF pasta and GFCF bread. I decided to ease slowly into the diet by replacing foods he already loved with their free from alternatives. Now, almost 3 months on he eats curry, shepherd’s pie, chicken, all fruits, several vegetables. Things I would never have even imagined.
Poor eye contact
Eye contact with his close family was never really an issue. People he saw on an almost daily base he would make eye contact with them no problem but the people he saw weekly or less he would hardly acknowledge. I would have people stop us and try to interact with Aidan and he would act as though they weren’t there.
Obviously, this one we don’t notice as much as others because at home there is no difference in this but everybody who has interacted with Aidan since the diet change has commented on how much more ‘alert’ and ‘present’ he is. Now he will hug and hold hands with people he wouldn’t have noticed before.
Playing with toys
Before the diet, Aidan would stare endlessly at the TV or tablet if we let him. He had next to no interest in toys or playing.
Now, the minute he gets up he runs into his playroom and he can stay there all day only coming out for food. He used to scream bloody murder to have the TV on all the time but now he will pop his head in and if it’s on he will watch it periodically but if it’s off he will head back into his playroom, unphased.
Won’t use plate or cutlery
Of course, not all issues have changed so drastically but there have been improvements. Before Aidan wouldn’t entertain cutlery in any sense. Now, he will rarely try using them himself but he is starting to take the fork from us once the food is on it. Also, he would struggle to pick foods up off a plate previously – he would grab my hand to have me pick up the food and hand it to him. He picks up his own food now without issue.
There have been no improvements in his speech development. He shows no interest in wanting to speak or even attempt to repeat words. We do have a speech assesment coming up quite soon so hopefully that will point us in the right direction.
We have just recently begun to include omega 3 into his diet too as it is supposed to help with brain function and development. As we are not a big fish eating family I get an omega 3 liquid supplement and put it into his orange juice every morning.
As always if you have any questions feel free to message me. I would be happy to help in any way I can. We are still very early into this (3 months) so I have a lot to still learn so if you have any tips, blogs or websites you suggest I would love to hear about those too.