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Special Needs

What is Gluten and should a Gluten-Free diet be considered for a child with Autism or one of the variations of ASD?

How involved is this diet and how convenient is it for parents to find the appropriate foods and maintain a well balanced menu?

Is a Gluten-Free diet medically proven to help some of the symptoms of these disorders?

Is a Gluten-Free diet something all parents should consider?

These are just a few of the questions to ask your pediatrician if you have a child with Autism or Aspergers Disease. In this Age of Knowledge we find information being thrown at us from every direction. The key to deciding what practices are best for your family is to get the facts from doctors. A second or even third opinion is often helpful in decision making. If you are already considering a Gluten-Free diet, here is some information to help you on your way.

Gluten is a mixture of two proteins, gliadin and glutenin. Gluten exists, conjoined with starch, in some grains, notably wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten makes up about 80% of the protein contained in wheat seed and, in general, is an important source of nutritional protein, both in foods prepared directly from foods containing

it, and as an additive to foods otherwise low in protein. People with wheat allergies, however, are most likely allergic to the gluten itself.

Some Recommended Products:

(Starting Point for the Overwhelmed)

1. Breads: Kinnikinnick, Food for Life, Glutino

2. Other bread products: Kinnikinnick (chocolate doughnuts, pizza crusts), Foods by George (bagels), Enjoy Life (bagels), Van's (frozen waffles)

3. Cereal: Barbara's Bakery

4. Flour: Bob's Red Mill, Arrowhead Mills

5. Frozen Dinners: Amy's Kitchen

6. Ice Cream: Purely Decadent, Soy Delicious, Tofutti

7. Margarine/Butter Substitute: Soy Garden brand can be used for baking, cooking, or as a spread.

8. Milk Alternatives: Silk brand soymilk. Almond milk is another option, for those who don't have nut allergies. Some rice milks are sweetened with barley malt syrup, which contains gluten.

9. Pasta: Bionaturae, Tinkyada

10. Chocolate bars: Terra Nostra Organic s Rice Milk Chocolate

Cookbooks for the GF/CF Diet

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

2. The Kid-Friendly Food Allergy Cookbook by Leslie Hammond and Lynne Marie Rominger

3. Special Diets for Special Kids, Two by Lisa Lewis

4. The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods: Creating Old Favorites with the New Flours by Bette Hagman

5. Mother Necessity: Gluten-Free Recipes by Cristin Fergus

Where to Shop

1. Ukrop's: They have a wide selection. Check the bulk goods for prepackaged alternative flours, the health food section for dairy alternatives, frozen gluten-free bread products, and cereals, and the partial aisle devoted to gluten-free foods near the peanut butter and jelly.

2. Healthway: Look for a row of gluten-free products like pasta, flours, cookies, baking mixes, etc. There is also a good selection of vitamin and mineral supplements, which parents of picky eaters (common with kids on the spectrum) may find appropriate. Remember to read ingredient labels since supplements, too, can contain gluten or casein.

3. Bloom and Giant Stores: The selection of GF/CF foods varies by location, but both stores carry a small selection of specialty items in their health food sections.

4. Don't forget local produce markets, especially now that the warmer weather is approaching! All the fresh fruits and veggies will help make the transition to a new diet more appealing.

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