Anyone familiar with treatments for autism should know about the gluten-free/casein-free diet. Many have tried it, many have found it successful, many have given up on it. I am among the many giver-uppers but I didn't give up on Philip's dietary intervention completely. I was relieved to be able to leave gfcf behind (and all the cooking with fickle tapioca and rice flours) and embrace the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. While gfcf promises to relieve the symptoms of autism, SCD hopes to go to the source of the problem and heal. The main premise of the gfcf diet is to eliminate those gluten and casein proteins in order to keep the gut and the brain in balance. (Without that balance, the brain interprets the break-down of the proteins similarly to its absorption of opiates.... explains quite a lot 'bout autism, don'tcha think?!) It is a forever proposition and, in Philip's case, I found that tiny infractions could affect him for a month or more. This is why so many of those who use this diet for autism seem oddly militant with their separate cookware and utensils, their incessant checking of lists and ingredients and their hyper-vigilance to avoid even the tiniest infractions. I can't say that I blame them one bit.
SCD, however, attempts to actually repair the gut so that it can safely digest the offending proteins. The main tool for this repair is the SCD yogurt which is specifically cultured to eat up the bad bacteria and build up the good ones. When we first put Philip on the gfcf diet it was months before we saw any dramatic difference. We were watching for indicators like...well, just read this blog post and you'll see what we're hoping to improve upon - she says it much better than I could have. With the gfcf diet we saw small improvements here and there - enough to keep going but not enough to keep us from jumping ship when we figured we'd found something better.
SCD is the something better for us. Within a single day we saw vast improvements. Philip stopped many of his perseverative habits, he was able to maintain eye contact with us, he desired to socialize with his peers and became concerned with building friendships - huge differences in no time at all. That yogurt gets into Philip every morning - just a spoonful will do it - and he begins to seem, well, almost normal at moments. The biggest indicator of "normality" is that he will express emotions that just never hit him otherwise. Unfortunately they are generally emotions like anger, frustration, blame and they are never directed at his own self (which is, ironically enough, normally the center of his Universe Focus). Yesterday was just such a day when the emotions erupted and I found myself unprepared. He cried, he screamed, he threw his glasses down the hallway and it was all my fault. Why? Because...brace yourselves....I treat him like a slave - I make him do...gasp!...JOBS! For a few moments there he started to sound like a typical pre-teen boy.
Now I'm not saying things are rosy - it may be a long walk in this park with Philip before I even spot any roses - but it's times like this that I get a glimpse into who he may actually be underneath all of his dysfunctions and inabilities. I only wish the success we find could be at the Happy end of the scale.