ADHD & Autistic Spectrum Disorders

Autistic-Spectrum-Disorders-ADHD-1Nutrition Therapy for Autistic Spectrum Disorders & ADHD  

 Nutrition can play a significant role in the treatment of Pervasive Development Disorders such as Autism, Asperger’s, Rett’s and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder.  Interestingly, the nutrition therapies most effective for these disorders are also often effective for individuals with ADD/ADHD.  Not everyone with one of these (or similar) diagnoses responds to the same type of nutrition therapy.  Likewise, Medical Nutrition Therapy is rarely a stand-alone treatment for autistic spectrum disorders or ADHD.  Most often it is one piece of a comprehensive treatment plan.  


Medical Nutrition Therapy for autistic spectrum disorders may include a variety of factors.  Many children within the autistic spectrum and/or with ADHD have food intolerances and/or food allergies.  Many are at risk for nutritional deficiencies due to poor diet or malabsorption.  Often these children have increased nutritional needs due to the way their bodies process foods and nutrients.  Some respond to specialized diets.  Others respond to therapeutic doses of specific nutrients.    The goal for all is to treat any existing nutritional deficiencies, promote self-healing of biomedical conditions, and maximize the child’s brain function to enhance his/her response to other treatments and therapies.  Notably, the effectiveness of many of the medications commonly prescribed for these diagnoses can be effected by nutritional status as well.  


Children with ADHD or autistic spectrum disorders often struggle with additional feeding challenges (or their caregivers do).  These can include increased or decreased appetites as side effects of medications, ritualistic feeding habits, problems with food textures, and resistance to trying new foods.  Any such factor can interfere with adequate nutrition.  And poor nutrition can significantly effect moods, behavior and concentration.  


As nutrition professional and a parent of a child with special needs, Sally Hara, MS, RD, CSSD, CDE offers insightful guidance through the maze of nutrition therapies for these special populations.  


for more information on this topic see  Diet for ADHD, Autism and Sensory Disorders