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In the Sacramento area I have found gluten-free foods at Raley's, Whole Foods, the Natural Foods Co-op, Elliott's Natural Foods and Trader Joe's.

A gluten-free diet doesn't have to be boring; in addition to gluten-free breads and pastas, you can find many gluten-free packaged mixes for home baking including bread mixes, chocolate cake mixes, lemon cake mixes, chocolate chip cookie mixes, pancake and general baking mixes (for biscuits, etc.). Snacks like corn chips are ok, too, as long as corn is the only grain. Note that some autistic children have additional food sensitivities to ingredients such as soy and corn, so everything new in the diet should be introduced cautiously, in small amounts.

Note: children should not be put on the gluten-free, casein-free diet "cold turkey", rather the diet should be introduced gradually, for a trial period of several months.

Enriched rice, almond, hazelnut, soy, and potato based beverages can replace milk (watch for nut and soy sensitivities). Be sure to read labels carefully - the brand "Rice Dream" rice milk has a small amount of gluten from barley, so use a different brand. Also, "wheat-free" doesn't mean the same thing as "gluten-free"; a wheat-free product can have gluten from other ingredients such as oats or barley.

A highly recommended calcium-enriched milk substitute is a specially processed potato powder called "DariFree". This powder can be mixed with water for a beverage that even picky eaters will drink, or added to gluten-free homemade bread to make it taste very close to "regular" bread (the recipe is in Karyn Seroussi's book). In the Sacramento area, DariFree is available at Sunshine Natural Foods in Fair Oaks, and Elliott's Natural Foods in Folsom; it can also be ordered from the producer, "Vance's Foods" (see the website link below).

Karyn Seroussi's book has a great deal of useful information on going gluten-free, including what foods and ingredients to avoid, how to avoid cross-contamination (gluten- and casein-sensitive autistic kids are EXTREMELY sensitive to even the tiniest amount of the proteins), what kitchen appliances are most helpful (for example, a bread machine with a gluten-free setting) and much more.

The cookbooks by Lisa Lewis, Pamela Compart and Dana Lakke, and Sheri Sanderson are also excellent sources of gluten- and casein-free cooking information. The books include lots of recipes, and the authors also explain why gluten- and casein-free foods are so important for some autistic kids.

Autism and Vaccinations

I do believe that children should be vaccinated. However, if a baby has a vaccination scheduled at a time when he has some other sort of infection (e.g., an ear infection), or is just recovering from an infection, consider postponing the shot until he has fully recovered. Also parents should try very hard to get the multiple shots (such as DPT and MMR) administered seperately, and several weeks apart.

Many parents of an autistic child are convinced that a childhood vaccination played a role in the onset of the disorder. Of particular concern are the multiple shots, the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), and the DPT (diptheria, pertussis, tetanus). Based my research and reading, I think there may indeed be a connection.

The scenario seems to go like this: a baby with a genetic risk factor for autism gets more than the usual number of childhood infections, such as ear infections, pinkeye, etc. The assault of numerous infections in addition to the vaccinations is too much for the baby's developing immune system and finally one more infection, or perhaps a vaccination shot, becomes the "straw that breaks the camel's back". Then the baby, who appeared to be developing normally, begins to withdraw and the autistic behaviors appear. Risk factors for autism include having a family member with autism, or a parent with food allergies or some other auto-immume disorder such as lupus, fibromyalgia or diabetes.

The measles portion of the MMR is of special concern when given to lactating women. There is evidence that when breastfeeding mothers receive a booster MMR, the measles portion of the vaccine may possibly be passed through breastmilk to the baby. At the time Karyn Serrousi was doing research for her book, this fact was noted in the Physicians Desk Reference, under MMR. Some autistic children have leisons in the colon with active measles infections, which may contribute to their gastro-intestinal problems.

Under the U.S. childhood vaccination schedule, a baby's developing immune system is subjected to a lot of antigens in the first two years of life, and the National Vaccine Information Center is advocating for a reform of the current vaccination policy.

Autism Website Links

My "Autism Website Links" page has links to websites with information about:

- Autism

- The gluten-free/casein-free diet

- Shopping for gluten-free foods

- Foods and food additives to avoid

- Lots of gluten-free recipes

- Gluten-free cooking tips

- Gluten-free medications

- Gluten-free personal care items

- Gluten-free dining out and travel tips

Recommended Books

"Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Development Disorder: A Mother's Story of Research and Recovery", by Karyn Seroussi
ISBN 0767907981

"Special Diets for Special Kids: Understanding and Implementing Special Diets to Aid in the Treatment of Autism and Related Developmental Disorders", by Lisa Lewis
ISBN 1885477449

"Special Diets for Special Kids Two", by Lisa Lewis
ISBN 1885477813

"The Kid-Friendly Autism & ADHD Cookbook: The Ultimate Guide to the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet", by Pamela Compart and Dana Laake
ISBN 1592332234

"Incredible Edible Gluten-Free Food for Kids: 150 Family Tested Recipes", by Sheri Sanderson
ISBN 978-1-890627-28-7

"The Autism Source Book: Everything You Need to Know About Diagnosis, Treatment, Coping, and Healing, From a Mother Whose Child Recovered", by Karen Siff Exkorn
ISBN 978-0-06-085975-6

"Facing Autism: Giving Parents Reasons for Hope and Guidance for Help", by Lynn Hamilton
ISBN 1-57856-262-7

"Autism Specturm Disorders: The Complete Guide to Understanding Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and other ASDs", by Chantal Sicile-Kira
ISBN 0-399-53047-9

"Adolescents on the Autism Specturm: A Parents Guide to the Cognitive, Social, Physical and Transition Needs of Teenagers with Autism Spectrum Disorder", by Chantal Sicile-Kira
ISBN 0399532366

"Could It Be Autism? A Parent's Guide to the First Signs and Next Steps", by Nancy D. Wiseman
ISBN 978-0-7679-1973-9

"The Official Autism 101 Manual: Everything You Need to Know About Autism From Experts Who Know and Care", by Karen Simmons (this one is aimed at professionals in health and education working with autistic kids)
ISBN 0972468285

"Crossing Bridges: A Parent's Perspective on Coping After a Child is Diagnosed with Autism/PDD", by Viki Satkiewicz-Gayhardt, Barbara Peerenboom, and Roxanne Campbell (this book is newly published - summer 2007 - by the Autism Society of New Hampshire, I couldn't find an ISBN number online yet)

Reading Labels

The following flours contain gluten:

- Wheat
- Barley
- Rye
- Oats
- Spelt
- Kamut
- Durum
- Triticale
- Semolina
- Pearl barley

The following flours are gluten-free:

- Amaranth
- Arrowroot
- Buckwheat (also called kasha, sarrasin, soba and beechwheat - this is not a true wheat)
- Corn
- Garbanzo
- Potato
- Quinoa
- Rice
- Sago
- Sorghum
- Soya/Soy
- Tapioca

Additonal gluten-free baking ingredients:
"Featherlight" brand baking powder
"Red Star" brand yeast

To get started, here are recipes you can print out for a basic gluten-free white bread and gluten-free baking powder.

 

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