ZocdocAnswersWould changing my child's diet help with her Autism?

Question

Would changing my child's diet help with her Autism?

My daughter has been diagnosed with Autism. I have read a lot that changes in diet help with the symptoms. Would a change in my daughter's diet help her? What kind of a change?

Answer

I am very sorry to hear that your child has recently been diagnosed with autism, which I am sure is a source of stress for you and your family. As you know, autism is a chronic illness in childhood, and managing it will require that you get help from your child's pediatrician, psychiatrist, and perhaps other specialists as well. Although many complementary and alternative therapies have been tried for autism, none of these have been shown to result in a significant change in behavior. For example, gluten-free and casein-free diets are very popular in some parenting circles for treating autism symptoms, but scientific studies of these diets have not shown them to be very effective. Additionally they may result in nutritional deficiencies if they are followed strictly for long periods of time. Effective therapy for autism is mostly focused on behavioral interventions and training from a team of specialists. Outcomes are best when the therapy is multidisciplinary and started early in life. Regular visits with your daughter's pediatrician and psychiatrist are especially important, to make sure that any particularly troubling symptoms or behaviors are identified and can potentially be targeted with medication therapies as needed.

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