What is it? When Something Isn’t Right…


Strange Behaviors, A Plateau, An Old Self Stims

This is a tricky process, involving supplements, dietary interventions, food allergies, additives, sleep issues, medical intervention, daily behavioral therapy, and other therapies – it is a lot to worry about! Parents with doctors assistance are always seem to be checking, changing, deleting, and adding ideas to your child’s daily intake, interventions and programs. Never a dull moment!

Occasionally, with progress and success – setbacks can happen. Set backs come in several shapes and sizes.

Here is the checklist I use when something does not seem quite right:

1. Too Much Sugar / Yeast Issues

What does high sugar intake look like? Symptoms can include increased hyperactivity, trouble falling asleep, listening to directions and keeping attention. (Yes, some of these symptoms can be autism – but many times these symptoms and others can be another underlying issue.)

What does “yeast” issues look like? Yeast issues typically include the “high sugar intake” issues above and also could include: rashes (especially around the anus), toe walking, extra self stimulatory behaviors (stims) that went away and have come back, seeking deep pressure (propreceptive input) and other related issues.

CONSIDER THIS SUGGESTION: Eliminate sugar or go low sugar, do a NO yeast diet and add probiotics . Replace refined sugar with maple syrup, stevia or honey. MANY children work with dietary interventions and add a yeast inhibitor. The latter is typically prescribed by a physician with drugs such as; Nystatin, Diflucan, Ketakonozole and others. There are natural yeast inhibitors such as Lauricidin, Grapefruit seed extract, and Olive Leaf Extract.

2. Gluten/Casein OR FORBIDDEN FOOD Infraction

CONSIDER THIS SUGGESTION: If it was an infraction, check everything your child ate. Or if you have not tried the GFCF diet, you need to do the diet. If you suspect an infraction, read the Diet Infringement or Infraction section on how to deal with the situation as smoothly as possible in a constructive manner. Re-trace your child’s steps, and/or ask therapists and teachers (if applicable) if it was possible that the child accidentally came into contact with a forbidden food. Tell them not to be afraid to tell you and that it is better for you to know so you can respond accordingly.

3. Phenol Overload

CONSIDER THIS SUGGESTION: Remove phenols from your child’s diet, if you haven’t already AND give Epsom salt baths nightly to combat the phenols. It could be a sulphanation issue.

What does “phenol overload” look like? Phenol overload could manifest in these symptoms: dark circles under the eyes, laughing at inappropriate times – especially at night, extra self-stimulatory behaviors, and other issues.

4. Allergies/Intolerance to a Food or Foods

CONSIDER THIS SUGGESTION: Have your doctor order a complete allergy panel from ImmunoLabs, Sage Labs, or try doing a rotation diet to find and eliminate the offending foods!

What does an allergy or intolerance to a food look like? It could be a change in one or more of the following issues: changes in behavior, sleep issues, new rashes, changes in stools, new stims, or other issues.

5. Dyes / Natural Flavors (this was a big guilty hint that Jeff got his hands on the wrong foods - he would start toe walking again.)

CONSIDER THIS SUGGESTION: Avoid these at all costs! They have no nutritional benefits and seem to be harmful to kids with autism! Go natural, organic foods with no additives! These additives can really reek havoc on a child with a sensitive gut or bowel movement issues. It is truly best to keep the foods simple and avoid unnatural ingredients altogether!

6. Current Supplements Don't Work For Your Child's Chemistry!!

CONSIDER THIS SUGGESTION: SEE NOTES BELOW! Also, watch your child’s intake amount! Sometimes, the bottles give adult size doses! Back off the dose to start! Give 1/4 of the dose to see if it works for your child! Please be sure to document daily intake so identifying new, offending foods, supplements, or other items can be easily (or easier to) identified.

TIP:  It is important to never add multiple supplements at the same time! Be sure to only add supplements one at a time.

7. Dark Circles (aka Allergic Shiners) and / Bruises Sleeping Issues

Most of these issues can be resolved by first trying suggestions 1-6 above including: allergy testing, removal of phenols & dye, etc. But if you see bruising, try essential fatty acids (like cod liver oil, evening primrose oil, flaxseed oil.) When a child has sleep issues, there may be issues w/ impacted stools causing “night wakenings” and “night terrors.” Consider an exam of the lower abdomen or stool study to get to the bottom of the issue! When the child sleeps = one big happy family!

8. IT IS IN THE POOP!! Constipation, Diarrhea, or Stooling Issues

Bottom line, it always is about bowel movements! Here are some ideas to consider for constipation or diarrhea. Please read the Poop Page for more information.

9. Is the Side Effect of a New Treatment a NEGATIVE RESPONSE to Treatment or a Common Side Effect?

Almost all treatment recommendations by doctors have a side effect(s). It is important to not that these side effects can be good or bad, medically speaking. Parents are recommended to read up on medications & treatments in addition to listening to what the doctor says in an appointment. It is important to know what is a “liveable” side effect versus a negative side effect that necessitates stopping a treatment. Parents should establish clear evaluation guidelines with the doctor for each medical treatment before trying something new. Evaluation guidelines may include: common side effects (what they are, how long they last) and negative side effects (i.e. usually are signals to stop the treatment.)

For example: chelation and yeast treatments can bring out negative behaviors that were gone for a good period of time. Sometimes these behaviors are a “common side effect” to a treatment. The doctor should indicate how long they are expected to last. Often, these set backs of negative behaviors can be followed by a period of wonderful growth. These side effects should be clearly explained and expectations set prior to commencement of a new treatment.

In addition – a good question to ask: is there any way to mitigate the side effects? Or plan possible new treatments around holidays (or not!) and or school breaks and weekends.

Some Closing Notes:

  1. At a DAN! conference, a parent asked a question, “My son used to take all his supplements just fine. In fact, he has been fine with the supplements for the last year. Now whenever I give him his supplements, he immediately throws up. What should I do?” The answer is to STOP GIVING HIM THE SUPPLEMENTS! What you supplemented last year, may not be what the body needs THIS year. The whole idea of giving supplements is to replace what the body needs or is not absorbing from the limited food options. This is unique to the child and changes as the child’s issues changes.
  2. What ONE child receives in supplements is not what ALL children should receive. Supplement what your child needs with a doctor’s support and tests.