My Son’s Story and Success With the GFCF and Dye Free Diet

Article By: Barrie Silberberg
Article Date: 04/08/2006

When my son Noah was in preschool, he played alone and only ate from a very small select group of foods. He was very verbal, yet odd. I thought perhaps he was gifted. At two years old he taught himself the alphabet. At four years old he taught himself to read.

Noah’s behavior in Kindergarten was horrible. He threw things, screamed, had uncontrollable meltdowns, had severe sensory problems, very poor social skills and never changed his diet from pretty much eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, milk, cookies, chips, pretzels, yogurt, cheese and french fries. His obsessions were “normal boy things” like Thomas the Tank Engine and Disney movies.

Noah begin first grade at a new school and had a horrible time. I kept researching gifted children web sites to try to find out why my son was different than other kids. Noah continued to get into trouble constantly for inappropriate behavior. I used to bring articles that I would find online to his teacher, showing her odd behavioral traits and characteristics of brilliant children. It all seemed to fit. But there was more that did not fit, did not make sense. Mid year of first grade a friend of mine was reading a magazine. Inside was an article about a boy with Asperger’s syndrome. She brought it to my attention immediately and said….”Read this…THIS is Noah.” She knew about Noah’s odd behaviors and knew that I needed answers. I read the article and cried, happy and sad tears. Happy, as I had an answer, I knew this was what was wrong with my son. Sad, because my son was Autistic.

I called an SST (Student Study Team) meeting at Noah’s school. When I mentioned the “A word”, everyone in attendance nodded their heads, telling me they had all been discussing this and they, too were pretty sure he was on the Autistic Spectrum. I am so thankful for my friend, who had the guts to come forward to show me that article.

The school counselor gave me several phone numbers so I could call and to seek help. This was the beginning of our road to Autism. A long, challenging, yet rewarding road.

We were very fortunate that Noah received a diagnosis of Autism from as Regional Center and became a client. They were able to provide services for him to help him on his way.

When second grade started we had an IEP meeting for Noah. He was not improving and the school did not want him there. They were willing to have professionals observe him and to let him try to prove himself in a regular education classroom. We would meet again in November to decide what to do from that point forward. His behavior was horrible. He was very disruptive in class. Ever since Noah’s diagnosis I would search high and low for help to find answers regarding this thing called Autism. One web site that has saved our lives is OASIS (Online Asperger Syndrome Information & Support). It was on OASIS that I read about this diet where you remove Gluten (Wheat, Rye, Barley and Oats) and Casein (dairy protein) from your child’s diet. It sounded insane. That was all my son ate. I told myself and everyone else that he would starve if I took away all of his favorite foods. What were these crazy people thinking? When we returned for Noah’s IEP, several weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday break, the director of elementary special education told us that Noah did not belong in a fully included classroom, not even in the SDC (Special Day Class) at this school. They said that he only place for him was at another school for moderate to severely autistic children. His father and I were shocked, but we were willing to go visit this classroom. In the room were several non-verbal, heavily stimming children. They were being rewarded with dye filled, gluten filled cereal. Later I would gasp at the insaneness of this practice for ASD children. Noah was a very bright little boy, with amazing verbal skills. This was not the place for him and we kindly told the director that our son would never be in that classroom. The director called another school and told us to visit the other classroom. We drove to that campus and visited the Emotionally Disturbed classroom. This was better than the last, yet still, we said, “NO” this was not a place for our son, either.

I then decided we had no choice but to try this ridiculous sounding diet. Over the four days of the Thanksgiving break we removed dairy products from Noah’s diet. To our amazement and the school’s when he returned he was a much calmer child. We saw HUGE changes in his behavior. If removing dairy could do this in basically three days, what could gluten removal do? Next we removed gluten, slowly, then permanently. The improvements were vast. The school staff was shocked. They allowed Noah to remain in the regular education classroom. I later discovered food dyes were also a horrible culprit to inappropriate behavior, so we stopped all dyes. I learned that his vitamins, toothpaste, shampoo, everything had to be GFCF/dye free in order to get the best results. None of these “pollutants’ could enter his intestinal system.

Noah’s behavior improved drastically. His sensory issues changed. He was able to listen to loud music, go outside without sunglasses, sit in a room where onions were being cooked. It was a miracle before our eyes.

Since this incredible event occurred in our lives I have made this diet my passion. I have dedicated my life to educating parents and professionals about the terrific results possible when you change what goes into your body. The old saying, “You are what you eat,” rings so true.

I have spoken at our county Autism Society about the diet. I also offer a three-page packet to many families on OASIS and in other Autism groups that I am involved with to help change families lives forever.

I wish everyone could see the changes that we have seen in our son. Noah has changed so much, due to the diet and the wonderful behavioral services from the school district and Regional Center. Anyone who has ever met or worked with Noah sees a totally different child.

Recently Noah made our family so proud. For the 5th grade DARE culmination at his school, the students had to write essays on what they learned. One essay from each of the three classrooms would be picked by a DARE officer to be read by the student who wrote it at the culmination. That was three out of 96 students. Image our joy and pride, when Noah was picked!!! He received a ribbon, medal, award and recognition for reading his essay to the 5th grade students and a room full of parents.

He started at this school in a very different place. A place that never wanted him as he was too disruptive, too out of control, he did not fit in…..To a place, today that rewarded him with honors for his greatness. Not bad for an autistic kid!

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