Understanding the Gluten Sensitivity Spectrum for Those in the Autism Spectrum


In the United States, it is estimated that one in 110 U.S. children has autism. Further, there are 14 treatment and research centers that enroll patients between 2-18 years old who have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Consumption of products that are rich in gluten has been shown to be problematic for children with autism spectrum disorders.

One hypothesis for the condition, theĀ opioid-excess hypothesis, states that autism is the consequence of the poor breakdown and excessive absorption of peptides with opioid activity. These are obtained from foods that have gluten or casein. Eventually, this causes disruptions in biochemical and neuroregulatory processes, including a higher rate of sleep problems.

Gluten Sensitivity Is a Spectrum in Itself

Not unlike Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Gluten Sensitivity can best be explained as a spectrum that ranges in severity. If 100 on the spectrum is autism, for gluten sensitivity, 100 is Celiac disease.

  • Research in the past has shown that diets that are rich in gluten increase the risk of ASD.
  • Studies show that gluten diets are connected to a wide range of neurological disorders. This variability includes “softer” and more prevalent disorders as are headaches, hypotonia, developmental delays, ADHD, and learning disorders.
  • In the future, longitudinal prospective studies will better describe the full range of neurological disorders and the influence that gluten-free diets have.
  • The solution is to introduce children to a plant-based diet that is rich in vegetables, beans, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and seeds.


A large number of people fall somewhere in between the range of 0 and 100. Our focus is the population that is in the 25-35 range. Indeed, they will benefit from staying away from gluten products such as fast foods, pasta, processed food, and processed grains. Previous laboratory findings have indicated that participants taking part in gluten-free diets have shown improvements in several measurable behaviors.


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