Diet Plan Praised for Turnaround
We came across an inspiring article from freep.com about the activism of a single mother that resulted in the resolution of her son’s autistic condition.
You have seen many posts about this subject in the Food Facts Blog, with good reason. It is one of the most discussed and controversial topics in food, diet and nutrition circles today. High profile celebrities like Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey have further contributed to the national discussion about autism and the impact of food, diet and nutrition on this growing problem.
The article focused on Teresa Summers, a single mom who learned that her son Sam had autism. She felt that her world had crumbled when she heard the news.
“You imagine the worse-case scenario,” said Summers, 43. “Many children are institutionalized and never live independently. Many have aggressive behaviors.
You mourn the loss of the future you’d planned for your child.”
But rather than wallow in despair, Summers got busy, researching information on the Internet and seeking sources of assistance.
Sam was 16 months old when he was diagnosed with autism, a neurological disorder.
Within weeks of placing her son on a special diet that she learned about through her research, Summers began to see signs of improvement.
By the time he was 3 1/2, doctors no longer categorized him as autistic. Since kindergarten, he has attended regular classes in a regular school.
After Sam started kindergarten, Summers began doing volunteer work to help other parents. Her volunteer work led to a paid position at a municipal health center in Michigan, where she is an office coordinator.
The Judson Center, a nonprofit social service agency with offices in 10 Michigan counties, offers services aimed at helping children, families and adults cope with and overcome various challenges.
“I have a very strong desire to help other families, to give them hope and put them on the path to helping other children reach their potential,” Summers said recently. “All children are different. But all children can make progress.”
The strategy that helped Sam progress is similar to a plan popularized by actress Jenny McCarthy, who found great success using it with her son, Evan.
The plan involves removing wheat and dairy from a child’s diet and adding nutritional supplements. It also bans artificial preservatives, food color and dyes. It’s commonly referred to as the GFCF diet for gluten-free, casein free.
Summers placed Sam on the diet when he was 19 months old, 3 months after a friend suggested he be checked for autism.
There were signs that something wasn’t quite right.
He didn’t speak or gesture, he didn’t play with toys the way other kids did, he had very bad temper tantrums and he expressed little or no response or affection to people, even his mother.
Two weeks after starting the diet, her son went from saying no words to 20.
Summers said the memory she cherishes most is when Sam looked up and smiled at her. This happened one day a few weeks after beginning the dietary intervention.
“I wouldn’t have believed it,” she said. “It felt like God had given me my little boy back!”
In addition to the diet, a behavioral therapist worked one-on-one with Sam.
He also participated in small group therapy sessions at the Judson Center.
Summers offers this advice for other parents: “Become your child’s advocate. Trust your instincts. And never ever give up hope.”