The crux of the article goes on to say how only 1% of people have Celiac which is the only medical reason to go on a gluten free diet and that at most 2% of autistic kids have it, so why are so many people spending a fortune (false hope?) in putting their children on the gluten and casein free diet. The paragraph before this told us that anecodotally 20-40% of kids with autism tend to respond favorably to "the diet". Hrmm.... Riddle me this... so it can help up to 40% of our kids but only 1-2% of our kids need it? What about the other 39%? If it helps the remaining 39% and improves their health, then to me - they need it. And... if those 39% of kids don't medically need it, IE. they do not have celiac - how the heck are they going to know if the diet will help them if they don't try it? By super-powers? The only way to know if your kid is a responder or not is to give the diet a try. Instead of saying that those who aren't celiac shouldn't try and don't need the diet, maybe they should focus on all the great things that the diet CAN help - like ADHD, sensory issues, sleep, chronic diarhea and constipation, oh and the elephant in the room - Autism.
Why was I so not surprised when I read that Newsweek used Peter Bell from AUTISM SPEAKS (but not for me!) as a source of info about the gluten free diet. Ok, first of all. Bell says himself that his child was "a non-responder". That is if his child even was on the diet, correctly, and how long they trialed it from. Autism Speaks has traditionally been dead set against D.A.N. and biomedical protocol, so of course - it is no surprise that the VP of Autism Speaks will down the diet. Of course they'll down something biomedical when they have big pharma sponsors backing them. Come to think of it there are quite a few ads in Newsweek for medications. Coincidence? No. Of course not.
I will tell you that I was not always "sold" on the diet. In fact I resisted it, debated it, and admit that at one time I was "a diet downer". I had researched the prices (OUCH) and talked to parents who had children who were non-responders and afterwards felt bitter about it. I.e. what a waste of time & money. But the more I researched and kept talking to more people I came across the "good stories". The stories about kids who had massive improvements in both behavior and language. And I got to thinking, what is the harm in trying to feed my kid foods that are actually more healthful? No harm. And to our surprise we noticed a difference. His teachers noticed a difference. Family members noticed a difference. And if we hadn't tried the diet would he have made all the gains that he has in the past year on his own just by "getting older" - I hardly think so. Clearly, our son is a responder and gfcf is here to stay.
The Newsweek article goes on to say that:
Alternatives to avoiding wheat include genetically modifying it to remove the genes responsible for the toxic fragments of gluten in it. But historically Americans have been leery of so-called "frankenfoods." Another possibility: a vaccine. An Australian group is working on one, but it is not in clinical trials. Researchers are also working on a pill that people with celiac disease could take before eating to help them digest gluten.
The idea of a vaccine makes me pause of course. More kids are sick than ever with gut issues, diabetes, asthma, food allergies, and autism - and they want to make a vaccine for gluten intolerance... that effectively will probably just create more children who require a special diet of some kind. I'm skeptical and leery, and frankly just shaking my head on this. I'd rather see more policy on proper food handling and labeling for allergens than a possibly harmful shot.
Lastly, the Newsweek article closes by saying (on the gluten free diet):
"I don't think people should torture their children unnecessarily."
I've got news for you Newsweek, my kid IS NOT Tortured.
and he's gluten free!