Best Life: What foods improve autism behavior?

Updated: Mar. 3, 2020 at 11:12 AM CST
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PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- In the 1970s, one in 1,000 kids were diagnosed with autism. That rate has jumped to one in 59 children. So many stories about autism focus on why the disorder is so much more common today versus a generation ago - and not what can help.

There aren’t many, but some research studies are looking at what, if any, foods can help young people on the autism spectrum.

Sean McMonagle’s parents understand what behaviors avoid anxiety and meltdowns with their autistic son.

“He goes in the pool every day, he loves to ride his bike and swim. He’s not super into sports or anything,” said Joe McMonagle, dad.

Now they’re looking into what foods may help.

Wendy Ross, MD, FAAP, director, Center for Autism & Neurodiversity, Jefferson Health shared, “A lot of kids on the spectrum do have restrictive diets. they have certain preferred foods.”

Sean loves drive-through.

Sean stated, “I do like the fast food, I like the chicken fingers, French fries, cokes, and my favorite chocolate milkshakes.”

“A lot of times these restrictive diets can limit their nutrition, which is a problem. Some individuals have tried diets that are gluten-free or that have a special supplement in them,” Dr. Ross continued.

When some patients with digestive issues start eating healthier foods, changes emerge.

“There’s not a lot of actual data to support that. In those families that have restricted diets, sometimes they do see changes,” explained Dr. Ross.

What can you do diet-wise for autistic and spectrum kids? Fortify their nutrition with fruits and vegetables… stick to whole, unprocessed food, and whenever you can, try new foods.

“Guess what? For thanksgiving, I tried pumpkin pie,” smiled Sean.

The proof may be in the pudding… or the pie.

Although there is no definitive study, doctors continue to research the gut-autism connection.

Contributors to this news report include: Donna Parker, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer. Copyright 2020 WMC. All rights reserved.