OAARSN Book Review

Unraveling the Mystery of Autism, by Karyn Seroussi (2000)

Is dietary intervention a cure for autism?

PARENTS magazine in February 2000 features the account by Karyn Seroussi of how her family responded to being told that her young son Miles had autism. Trying to understand why his normal development process changed at about 15 months, when he lost his language and social skills, she came across the idea that he might have an allergy to milk and wheat. Though all professional advice was sceptical or hostile, the family tried eliminating first milk and then gluten (found in wheat, oats, rye and barley).

Miles made amazing progress in speech, social behaviour and relationships and also in his digestive processes. By the time he was 3, all his doctors agreed that his autism had been completely cured. At 6, he was "one of the most popular children in his first-grade class. Heís reading at a fourth-grade level, has good friends, and recently acted out his part in the class play with flair. He is deeply attached to his older sister, and they spend hours engaged in the type of imaginative play that is never seen in kids with autism."

How to explain this recovery? It is theorized that a sub-group of children with autism break down casein (or milk protein) or gluten into peptides that affect the brain and nervous system in the same ways that hallucinogenic drugs do. These children might lack an enzyme that normally breaks down the peptides into digestible form, or the peptides may be leaking into the bloodstream before they can be digested. As the opiates are addictive, these children crave the very foods to which they are allergic; they may even binge on these foods and refuse others. It is further suggested that autism is a disorder related to the immune system and that autistic children may be genetically predisposed to immune-system abnormalities. The onset of autism may be triggered by the measles portion of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine that children are often given at 15 months.

Karyn started a newsletter and international support organization called Autism Network for Dietary Intervention (ANDI) in 1997. See its Internet site at www.autismndi.com. She recounts her familyís experience in her book Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder: A Motherís Story of Research and Recovery (published by Simon and Schuster, January 2000).***