I supported Chef in removing gluten and casein from his eating habits after reading reports on how folks living with autism benefitted from diets that were free of gluten and casein. A few months down the road, the school and I were noticing "behavioural" improvements as well as an improvement in focus. My son moved from taking three meds to taking one. Of course, we can never be sure whether or not those improvements could be strictly attributed to the diet.
What we also noticed, however, was that my son was no longer experiencing the degrees of digestive problems he'd been having throughout his life. He used to have fairly severe bouts of ongoing gas, constipation, abdominal swelling, and pain to the point of loud moaning/groaning/crying. He has been in our local hospital's emergency dept twice, has had a tube inserted once to empty the contents of his stomach (his stomach swelled to a very painful degree after eating a McD's meal, a sleeve of crackers, and an orange; the dr thought perhaps he'd ingested hair as well because at that time he was occasionally pulling out hair, but tests were inconclusive regarding hair digestion), and has been hospitalized once for a few days.
My son definitely recognizes the benefits of being gluten-free and casein-free. That, however, does not override his complaints to other people about his "dietary restrictions" and the complaints then come back to me, often (though not always) in the form of feeling sorry for Chef or in the form of judgment towards me. When Chef is with me, however, Chef talks very positively about being gfcf. He talks about how fun it is to experiment with food and come up with healthy foods that work for him; he talks about how glad he is that he doesn't have to deal with the digestion issues; he talks about how glad he is that he doesn't put all the garbage into his body that other kids at school have in their lunches (though we all KNOW he is feeling different about that when he is seeing the garbage in the other kids' lunches!)
Now that Chef is 15, however, and is still complaining to other folks about his "dietary restrictions" I am thinking it is time to have yet another conversation with him about his eating; either remain gfcf and stop complaining about it to other people, or let it go and see how the body responds. Telling me he wants to have a gfcf diet so he doesn't have the digestive problems, then telling other people he doesn't want to have a gfcf diet - that just doesn't work.
This blog was initially set up as a means of communicating with my son's team. Since then, I've heard from other parents with similar stories. If you are living with challenges or journeying alongside someone who is, you are not alone. There are many of us. I'm a single adoptive Mom (http://richesofsimplicity.blogspot.com/) of a young man who lives with many abilities and many diagnoses. We have journeyed together through many challenges and a few adventures over the years as my son has tried to find space in this world that makes him feel more comfortable, an attempt made especially difficult when living with Attachment Disorder, PDD-NOS (Autism), Developmental Coordination Disorder, ADHD, prenatal substance exposure, etc. Some of the strongest elements used in this journey have been music, visual arts, therapeutic parenting, team-connection, boundary-setting, boundary-setting, boundary-setting, communication skills, community-building, continual lifeskills training, and elements of Theraplay. (Click here for some written resources.) On this journey, there is laughter and tears and growth and hope. The greatest of these is hope.