Several studies have shown improvements in autistic behaviours such as social isolation, communication and overall behaviour with the use of a gluten-free/casein-free diet. The GAPs diet is also commonly used for children with digestive issues. Food additives, colourings and preservatives can increase hyperactivity in all children so avoidance of these is also helpful. Where possible an organic diet helps limit exposure to pesticides. Testing for food allergies and eliminating these foods from the diet has also been shown to improve certain autistic behaviours. We can support you in finding the right diet for your child, safely implementing and then maintaining it.
Sleep deprivation usually worsens autistic behaviours. Therefore improving sleep duration and quality is important. Several studies have shown improvement in sleep with melatonin in autism and ADHD. One study has found a defect in the ASMT gene that caused less melatonin production in some children with autism.
A moderate dose general multi-vitamin has been shown to improve sleep and gastrointestinal problems in children with autism when compared with placebo.
If deficient, omega-3 fatty acid supplement can cause an increase of sleep duration of one hour in all children. In typical children deficiency can increase hyperactivity, anxiety and temper tantrums. Infants not receiving omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in breast milk or infant formula are 2-4 times more likely to develop autism. Omega 3 fatty acids also have anti-seizure effects.
When given together these supplements have been shown to improve social interaction, communication and stereotypical behaviours in children with autism.
Deficiency of zinc has been correlated with inattention in children with ADHD. Zinc deficiency has also been reported in children with autism. In children with ADHD zinc supplementation has been shown to improve ADHD symptoms compared to placebo.
In a double blind, placebo controlled study, vitamin C was shown to reduce stimming in people with autism compared to placebo.