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    Autism is often called Autistic Spectrum Disorder or ASD as there is not one single disorder that is autism; instead there is a spectrum which takes into account the wide range in severity of the symptoms. Someone may be diagnosed as Autistic or Aspergers if their symptoms are severe and cause them problems in their day to day lives. Those with Aspergers tend to be higher functioning and to have milder symptoms.

    Some characteristics of those with ASD include limited speech, lack of facial expression and eye contact, difficulty with social interactions, inability to empathise, playing alone rather than with other children, hyper-sensitivity to sound, smell or colour, hyperactivity, need for routine, obsessive compulsive disorders, rocking, head banging and loud pitched screaming. Sufferers will often only eat a narrow range of foods, may have obsessions about certain foods and commonly experience digestive problems.

    The causes are unknown, but there are various associated factors including a family history of auto-immune diseases, allergies, behavioural problems, celiac disease, exposure to organo-phosphates (used in agriculture), IBS, migraines, obsessive compulsive disorders, ADHD, reactions to vaccinations.

    ASD is a complex disorder and range of dietary, lifestyle and behavioural therapies should be implemented to ease symptoms. The following are worth considering:

    • Follow a gluten and dairy free diet – use other grains such as buckwheat, brown rice, quinoa, millet and red rice.
    • Avoid food additives – make sure the diet is comprised of natural foods. Cook and prepare foods from scratch.
    • Eliminate sugar, refined carbohydrates and caffeine.
    • Keep a food and symptom diary to monitor symptoms and reactions.

    For more information and support on Autism, visit www.autismfile.com Always consult with your GP or medical doctor.

    Useful websites include:

    www.feingold.org – this gives information about avoiding salicylates which can be a problem for those with autism.

    www.autismfile.com – information and support for parents of children with autism.

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