Thursday, May 28, 2009


Old Habits Die Hard Part I - Nutrition

On April 29th, Allison and I attended a conference entitled “Nutrition in Autism”. Elizabeth Stickland, MS, ES, LD presented it. She has a book called, Eating for Autism. I have a copy and picked it up at Border’s in West Lebanon.

Although the title of the conference suggested that it would be focused on autistic children, Elizabeth actually spoke to all children with a focus on those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and those with Attention Deficits (ADD, ADHD). The primary reason I wanted to share this conference was because a lot of what she said effects everyone including you and I.

What I will share comes directly from the conference and her book. I encourage anyone with children who have ASD, ADD/ADHD or other learning and/or behavioral issues to read Elizabeth’s book. It includes a reasonable step-by step process to work towards addressing nutritional problems and is written in understandable language with a glossary, just in case.

The conference was one of the more compelling seminars I have attended in recent history. Elizabeth herself was clearly knowledgeable and invested in her topic. She shared that her 21-year-old, Jackson, has ASD.

At the beginning of the conference she made a good point about food. Food isn’t just something enjoyable. Food is fuel. We don’t just eat because we like it. With fast and processed foods abundant, the nutritional value of what we eat has decreased over the years. Any child over the age of 2 should be taking a multi-vitamin, period.

Many of the kids we focused on at the conference were problem feeders; Elizabeth recommended a pill-swallowing cup called Oralflow. Here is the website: I ordered this cup for my son. I’ll let you know how it works. The site is actually pretty good. It has a video with real parents and real kids showing the use of the cup. I think even a typically functioning child can use help with swallowing pills.

I also ordered one of the three brands of vitamins she recommended, Kirkland. Kirkland is the Costco brand and are tested by two of the three independent labs that test dietary supplements. The children’s vitamins have no artificial color; if you research this topic further, you will learn that many children with ASD cannot digest artificial color.

What I liked most about this conference is that Elizabeth illustrated how the brain takes food that we digest and uses it to power our ability to remember, learn, pay attention, and focus. It also can have a significant effect on our mood, and behavior. She had a great illustration. I have done my best here to find one suitable for explaining what I learned. Hopefully as I explain, you will be able to refer back to the illustration. This is a typical brain cell.

1) The brain depends heavily on vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids and calories found in food. If your child is deficient in one of these areas it compromises the brain’s neurotransmitter production, the synthesis of her brain’s myelin sheath (the fatty layer of insulation surrounding the axons of neurons increasing the speed at which electrical impulses can travel from neuron to neuron), glucose oxidization (the breakdown of glucose to produce ATP, which transports energy within cells) and her visual cognitive processing. If your child is consuming too much sugar and too much artificial additives, it can compromise your child’s brain function and cause behavior and learning problems.

2) Children need to consume zinc, selenium, magnesium, beta-carotene, vitamins A and E, and choline to help the liver detoxify of neurotoxins (i.e. mercury, lead, arsenic, pesticides and solvents). Most of us know that prolonged exposure to these neurotoxins can damage your child’s brain and central nervous system. It can contribute to attention deficit, hyperactivity, compulsive behavior, aggression, speech delays, and motor dysfunction, just to name a few.

3) The GI tract is dependant on amino acid and glutamine and needs a constant supply of vitamins and minerals for normal function. When nutritional deficiencies occur it can impair cellular growth in your child’s gastrointestinal tract. This compromises her ability to absorb nutrients she consumes in foods. This, in turn, causes other nutritional deficiencies that affect the brain.

4) Our immune system function is affected by lack of good nutrition as well as Erythropoiesis (the process of producing red blood cells). Red blood cells carry oxygen to our brains and throughout our bodies. Vitamins supporting this include iron, vitamin B6, copper, flolate, vitamin B12, and vitamins C and E. Deficiencies with these vitamins and minerals cause anemia, irritability, headaches, loss of appetite, lethargy, inattentiveness, and poor school performance.

Perhaps for some, this is a review. For me, it is one of those things where, yeah, I know the kids and I need to eat better. We all know that, don’t we? Did I fully understand what that specifically means to my child’s growing brain? Did I fully understand how it affects my son who is diagnosed with a regulatory disorder? I don’t think so. I don’t think we (collectively) on a day-to-day basis appreciate how serious of an issue this has become not just for children with developmental issues but also for us all.

I do need to close for now. Hopefully this will get you thinking. To be continued… ~t

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Saturday, May 23, 2009


New things coming...

Hello there,

A Community in Motion is starting a web log (blog)!

This blog is being started as a way to share information we, at ACiM, have learned as parents and occupational therapists but also to encourage you to share your own story.

If you, or someone you know, has a story to share, please contact us. There is no limit to who can post: parents, kids, teachers, therapists; all are welcome.

Theresa (Terry) Chausse, our practice manager, will post regularly and if you wish to submit something, please contact her.

We look forward to hearing from you.

~A Community in Motion~

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