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Autism: Effects of Gluten

08 Aug

I had hoped it wasn’t so, but I should have seen it long ago. I saw the connection in my children – with very much the same effects as I now accept are true for me. That was about 9 years ago.

Two years prior to that even, I considered that I possibly had a sensitivity to either wheat or dairy, as I felt sick all the time. I eliminated the dairy, found especially with future attempts to eat/drink it that I was indeed intolerant, and left it at that.

Even when I took my children off of wheat and dairy, seeing a strong correlation between those foods and struggles with their sleep and behaviour, I never considered going off of wheat myself. I was already allergic to eggs and Kraft dinner, and intolerant to dairy, plus very picky according to other people’s standards. I didn’t even entertain the thought at that point that wheat could be an issue for me as well.

Until a couple of years ago, that is. I then noticed that the more wheat I ate, the more prone to digestive issues, bloating, and heartburn I was. At the same time, I was reading a lot of information about the gluten free/casein free diet for people with Autism (which I strongly suspected by then, and was later diagnosed with.)

So I knew that I would need to test this at some point, but I also struggled with that against the thought that I have such trouble with food to begin with. Did I really want to make things harder? It is difficult to find a balance between removing things from my life that cause me struggles, and having further struggles caused by that very removal.

I really didn’t want to do this (more, I didn’t want it to be true), but as the noted side effects became stronger, I knew that I had to try. So I went gluten free for a short time – eating mostly corn, oats (which didn’t seem to bother me, or my children) and rice. Suddenly, for the first time in many, many years, I was able to get to sleep without drugs. When I allowed myself even a little wheat, the effects were undeniable:

  • insomnia
  • irritated skin and scalp
  • heartburn
  • bloating
  • heightened anxiety
  • quicker to meltdown
  • struggle regulating emotions
  • stronger sensory issues (and I am already extreme)
  • increased irritation

The thing is, these are the exact effects I saw in my kids (minus the heartburn and bloating, which they wouldn’t have been able to share with me even if they had experienced these) and which, like my dairy intolerance, the doctors were not able to test for or confirm – but were no less true for all of that.

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I am now certain that these foods are not ones I can safely include in my diet. But then we were going camping, and I tried to plan around this, but failed. Trying not to be difficult, I agreed to eat wheat during those 9 days away and Wow!… but that will have to be a post for another day.

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