Today’s Insight on Autism: Can Food Sabotage Your Child’s Progress?

We love reading these articles and sharing them with our readers. There are so many ways people are dealing with sensitivities for those with autism and ADD/ADHD.  Thank you so much Dr.  Dantini for submitting your article!

Karen Simmons

Can Food Sabotage Your Child’s Progress?

by Dr. Daniel Dantini, MD

In the mid 1980s, I conducted a study on food sensitivities and their effects on ADD/ADHD symptoms. After testing the patient for delayed food sensitivities, the study consisted of two phases:

The Avoidance Phase, in which the offending foods are avoided for six weeks.
The Challenge Phase, in which the excluded foods are slowly added back into the diet. The reason for the challenge phase is to prove that the foods identified by the test are actually causing specific symptoms.

Included in this particular study, was an autistic child around 2 years old.  During the avoidance phase when the harmful foods were removed from this child’s diet, ALL of the autistic symptoms disappeared.
With such dramatic results, the parents withdrew the child from the study before the challenge phase. They not only feared that challenging the foods back into the child’s diet would cause the symptoms to return, but that they would not be able to reverse them again.

This was the first autistic child I had ever encountered.  I consulted my dad who had been a General Practitioner for 50 years, and he had never seen a single case.  As an otolaryngologist, I didn’t see many cases of autism.

However, just before I moved from Pittsburgh to Florida, I saw the son of a nurse at the hospital who had just been diagnosed with Autism. After I tested him for delayed food sensitivities, I instructed his mother to have him avoid the harmful foods.  16 years later, he and his mother stopped by my office.   He had continued the protocol and was preparing for college.  As far as I could tell, he was normal. The only unusual remnant of his autism was that he couldn’t lie.

In Florida, I started seeing more and more patients on the Autistic Spectrum.  I have been watching results in my own practice and getting feedback from DAN doctors and others who regularly treat Autism.  What I have found is that, in delayed food sensitivity, immune complex plays a vital role in the progression of autism.  And the younger the child we treat, the better the results.

Certainly there are genetic predispositions that affect the population, but since it was rare before the 1980s, there is obviously something else, which is drastically contributing to, if not causing the huge increase in cases.

Allergic load and an over-stimulated immune system seem to me to be major culprits.  Allergic load is the amount of allergens the body can successfully tolerate.  When we’re exposed to more than we can handle, the immune system reacts badly.  In the case of autism, the brain is affected during its development.  By decreasing the allergic load, the immune system is better able to handle any other onslaughts it may encounter.  Since food is such a large portion of the potential allergic load, it makes sense to test children early for both immediate AND delayed food sensitivities and eliminate the foods to which they react. This increases the chance that the brain can develop normally.

Today’s Insight on Autism: Special Needs Kids and Team Sports

This story was sent by one of our many readers and I wanted to share it with you. Thank you Monica for contributing to everyone. Please keep sharing your stories with us!

Karen Simmons

Special Needs Kids and Team Sports

by Monica Johns

It is a bright sunny day and the weather is perfect for a soccer game.  The soccer ball is coming fast down the grassy field.  The boys are all trying to defend it by kicking the ball away.  My 11 yr old Asperger’s son is on this defensive team.  He is ready and kicks the ball out from between the offensive players’ legs.  What a save right?

My autistic sons’ stories don’t generally end that simple.  For some reason a “but” appears after each moment in time and in this case there is no disappointment.

But – then the offensive boy calls my son a name.  It doesn’t matter what the name is.  My son no longer cares about the soccer ball. He heads straight for the player and pushes him to the ground.  Of course, this is not permitted in a soccer game and he gets carded and sent out.  His frustration level is high now and he can’t calm down. He runs away to get all of the emotion out of his body/head and later calmly returns.

Everyone is wondering what happened.

It is tough for our special needs children to be involved in team sports.  Team sports should be a rewarding and fun time.  I have spoken to many parents that don’t involve their special needs kids in team activities anymore.  It just became too difficult.  I am sad about this.  For one, it is such a good way to get the exercise and high level of physical activity our kids need.  Secondly being part of a team typically enhances friendships because they have this sport in common and enjoy it together.  Generally, our special needs kids are lacking in friendships due to the inability to understand the complex relationship in being and having a friend or at the other end of the spectrum because they are the ones being teased, taunted and bullied.

As my son grows older in age, his maturity grows at a much slower rate than the other boys on his team.  He has asked that we not tell the others that he is autistic because most team players do not understand autism and don’t want to be educated on it.  Now at the soccer games, I am fearful that he will act out and/or say something inappropriate.  He will outcast himself as he has done so many times before unbeknownst to himself.  We attempt to explain to him these non-existent social rules.  He listens and says that he understands but as soon as he steps onto the field, they are forgotten or missed.  He loves this game and he is a good player.

In the end all he wants from the game – is a friend – but the playing field is not fair – just like in life.  The lack of fairness in life is a good lesson for anyone to learn but these special needs kids are already at a disadvantage once diagnosed and to continue this theme in their life just places an even greater emphasis on how much they have to overcome to be accepted.

Time Sense and Autism

“Time Sense”

by Pamela Dean Bonta

Tim (name changed) was a thirteen year old boy in my autism class. He always wore his watch, could read both analog and digital time, could tell what time the events on his schedule occurred…yet frequently asked questions about time – how long until lunch? do I have to do math for ten minutes? how long is ten minutes anyway? He seemed to be obsessed with time, yet was unable to follow a simple schedule. He was often frustrated by his dependence on others, and his classmates were frustrated by his constant questioning.

Tim is not alone. Many students with special needs  seem to lack a sense of time. This can cause issues at home and at school, in following schedules, in developing life skills such as cooking, and in other areas. Time sense is such an integral part of a person’s day that it can be difficult to function socially, independently, academically, and behaviourally without it.

What exactly is ‘time sense’? It is the innate ability to know how long things will take and how much time has passed. There are two quick ways to find out if your child may have difficulties in this area. First, ask if s/he thinks it would take the same amount of time to peel an orange as it would to brush his/her teeth or to wash the supper dishes. If the child can’t tell, s/he may have trouble knowing how long things take. This causes difficulty in such things as planning appropriate time for homework completion or finishing lunch before lunchtime is over. Next, ask your child to close his/her eyes and tell you when s/he thinks one minute has passed. If he or she falls outside of the fifty to seventy second range, s/he may have difficulties in estimating the passage of time. Not having an intuitive sense of how much time has passed can cause difficulties with knowing when to stop one activity and begin another, i.e., instead of watching television for one hour, it turns into three or four hours.

Parents and teachers of children with a lack of time sense may ask themselves such questions as why can’t my child use a calendar? why can’t my child follow his schedule? why does my child not seem to know what day it is? By carefully examining a hierarchy of time sense skills, it usually becomes apparent that the child can’tdo those things because s/he is not yet ready for that skill level or is missing an earlier prerequisite skill. How can a child follow a multip-step,multi-day schedule if s/he does not yet have an understanding of first-then? How can a child tell what day yesterday was if s/he does not yet know the days of the week? How can a child tell that art will end in ten minutes at 2:00 if s/he cannot yet tell time? These are skills that some children have to be expressly taught. Tim,for example, had a good understanding of time terminology, could use a calendar and tell time and read a schedule, but lacked awareness of non-standard measurements of time and the ability to relate the time on his watch to events in his day. Once he learned these skills his questions diminished; as he continued to learn the next level of skills he could follow a complex schedule independently.

I hope you will find the following hierarchy of time sense skills useful. There are many resources available for teaching and learning each level of understanding. In my experience, careful, diligent examination of the hierarchy and implementation of training programs at the individual child’s level can alleviate frustration, develop the ability to relate events to previous experiences, and use previous knowledge about time to plan better. This will lead to good time management skills that will improve how your child functions at school and at home.

Hierarchy of Time Sense Skills
1.    Use non-standard measurements of time – long time, short time.
2.    Understand time related terms – yesterday, today, tomorrow, morning, afternoon, evening.
3.    Understand the passage of time – past, present, future.
4.    Use a calendar – days, weeks, months; read the names and abbreviations of each day and month.
5.    Tell exact time using a clock, including hour, minute, second; count to and recognize the numerals to 60.
6.    Tell time of daily events – wake up, start of school, suppertime.
7.    Indicate exact passage of time using a clock – 4:00-4:30 is 30 minutes or 1/2 hour; skip-count by 5.
8.    Relate exact passage of time to known timed events – e.g., tv show, gym class, recess, school day.
9.    Estimate time passed.

Find out more about autism and strengths with Temple Grandin in Calgary at “Keys to the Treasure Chest”

Today’s Insight on Autism: Finding the Joy

Thank you Rebecca for sharing this very special story. We really love to read the stories that are pouring in and sharing them again with all of you!

Karen Simmons

Finding the Joy

by Rebecca Rivera

“Oh, I’m so sorry” “Poor thing” “It must be really hard for you”
These are just some of the things I hear when someone finds out I am the mother of a child on the autism spectrum.

When I first received my sons diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder PDD-NOS it came as no surprise, but it was still a hard pill to swallow. I soon began to realize this would not be an easy road for him or me. I started to think about all the challenges he would face in his life because of the Autism. Worst than that; I began to dwell on them. My days were filled with thoughts of all he would miss out on, the social difficulties he would face, and the many other things that would affect his daily living. I wondered if he would ever make friends, learn his times tables, get a job or even get married.

One day while reading it occurred to me that I was setting my son up for failure…I was selling him short. He was capable of much more than I was giving him credit for. I had been looking only at the negative side of Autism; at only the frustration, anxiety and hopelessness it can sometimes bring. Then one word came to mind….JOY.

Joy is defined as experiencing great pleasure or delight; enjoyment in. Some of may be wondering what delight could I have gotten out of autism. Its not necessarily the autism itself, but the experiences I have with a child affected by Autism.

For example, when we used to go on family outings, it was rare to sit through an entire event without a disruption. My son is unable to sit still long enough or be quite during the appropriate times. So we always seemed to be making a quick escape to walk around the hallways or go outside on occasion, weather permitting. One day during a walk in the park, my son and I sat down on some benches to rest. After only a few seconds, my son popped up, held out his hand and said, “Mommy lets dance.” I thought why not.

So there we were hand in hand dancing our own version of the waltz; even doing a couple of twirls and dips. My son even bowed at the end of our dance and I curtsied. Later that day as I thought about what had happened that morning; It dawned on me. Had it not been for my son’s inability to sit still for even a few minutes, or his unexpected verbal outbursts; we would have missed that wonderful moment together. That moment of pleasure, of delight, of JOY.

Since that day I made a decision to look differently at my son’s autism. I began to rearrange my way of thinking; starting with making a list of my son’s strong qualities. Ambitious, independent, strong-willed, compassionate, observant; just to name a few.

Next, I decided to keep what I refer to as Joy Journal. I record moments in my son’s life; moments of joy, moments that occur because of his autism.

Yes there are still challenges we face. There are times of set backs, stress, and even occasional negative thoughts. But now instead of dwelling on those; I pick up the Joy Journal and I read all the times my son and I found the JOY in autism.

“Keys to the Treasure Chest” Autism Conference

Welcome Message

On behalf of the organizing committee of the 2010 Training Workshop “Keys to the Treasure Chest, Discover the Gems Within!”, I would like to extend an invitation to you to join us at this exciting two day event. The workshop will be taking place in Calgary, AB on November 22nd & 23rd 2010 at the MacEwan Conference and Event Centre.

We are proud to be bringing to you Dr. Temple Grandin, Dr. Stephen Shore and Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh, all of whom are leading experts on Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorders. They will focus on providing practical strategies for working with people with ASD in the areas of; behavior, social difficulties, emotions, relationships, and others.

The main focus of the conference is “Strategies for Behavioral Management for Autism Spectrum Disorders“. More details on course content to follow.

This workshop will provide great advice and strategies to assist parents, family members, caregivers, physicians, educators, therapists, social workers, nurses, and other professionals in assisting children and adolescents in overcoming challenges, improving behavior, social understanding and relationships for those with autism. This event will be very beneficial for parents and loved ones because not only will they get an incredible amount of information, they will be inspired. One of our main goals of this workshop is to give people hope.

Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to meet Dr. Temple Grandin, Dr. Stephen Shore and Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh, network with other parents and professionals and gain the knowledge and skills to help individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders succeed.

We look forward to seeing you in Calgary.


Contact Info

Toll Free: 1-866-9AUTISM (928-8476)

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Canadian Office: 11007 Jaspar Ave Edmonton, Alberta T5K 0K6

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