Date of Defense
Date of Graduation
Family and Consumer Sciences
In 2006, autism was recognized as a national problem due to a sharp increase in the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Characteristics of autism include impairments in the areas of social interaction, communication, and play, while demonstrating restricted or repetitive interests and activities. Children diagnosed with ASDs may also develop angry outbursts or feeding difficulties. An estimated one-third of autistic children have a gastrointestinal (GI) disorder. Theories as to why GI distress is common with autism have resulted in the research of different therapeutic treatments. Most notably, researchers have completed studies on the gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet as a possible intervention for ameliorating core behaviors associated with autism. An identified connection between the brain and the gut justifies why a GFCF diet could potentially treat autism; this is especially true if the child has food allergies or is a problem feeder. A review of past studies and an interview with an individual, who has worked directly with autistic children on GFCF diets, revealed no distinct link between GFCF diets and an amelioration of common ASD symptoms. In conclusion, more research is needed on this topic before parents can be advised to initiate a GFCF diet regimen with their autistic child.
Zammit, Susanna, "The Gluten-Free Diet: An Effective Treatment for Autistic Spectrum Disorders?" (2013). Honors Theses. 2306.
Honors Thesis-Open Access