Nutrition for Children with Autism

Not many conditions are as mysterious as autism.

Autism is known as a complex developmental disability. Experts say Autism presents itself during the first three years of a person's life. The condition is the result of a neurological disorder that has an effect on normal brain function, affecting development of communication and social interaction skills.

People with autism have issues with non-verbal communication, a wide range of social interactions, and activities that include an element of play and/or banter.

Autism belongs to a group of developmental disabilities called autism spectrum disorders. The name "spectrum" stems from the fact that these disorders affect each child differently. These disorders involve delays in the development of many basic skills, including the abilities to socialize or form bonds with others and to communicate effectively.

Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child's life.

What Causes Autism?

The exact cause of autism is not known, but research has pointed to several possible factors, including genetics (heredity), metabolic or neurological factors, certain types of infections, and problems occurring at birth. There are many symptoms that are present that lead to a diagnosis.

Recent studies strongly suggest that some people have a genetic predisposition to autism, meaning that a susceptibility to develop the condition may be passed on from parents to children. Studies of people with autism have found abnormalities in several regions of the brain, which suggest that autism results from a disruption of early brain development while still developing in the mother's womb.

Other autism theories suggest:

  • The body's immune system may inappropriately produce antibodies that attack the brains of children, causing autism. This theory is not widely thought of as being valid.

  • Abnormalities in brain structures cause autistic behavior.

  • Children with autism have abnormal timing of the growth of their brains. Early in childhood, the brains of children with autism grow faster and larger than those of normal children. Later, when normal children's brains get bigger and better organized, the brains of kids with autism grow more slowly.

  • Gut bacteria changes affecting development of the brain

What can Holistic Nutrition do for an autism diagnosis?

Nutrient deficiencies are a part of autism as we've known since the 1970s - but the combination is the trick. Some studies show significant improvement in supplementing certain vitamins, while others show no difference when the nutrients are supplied alone. This demonstrates the bodies' need for a correct balance of nutrients, which is likely to be different for each child.


Nutrition can be improved to fit your lifestyle. We will look at the quality of fats, (brain health) learning how to make fermented foods and correct probiotics for the child's gut. Since Holistic Nutrition is tailored to the person - it is necessary to work 1-1 with each family in order to make the necessary improvements as well as create a proper support system in the home for the changes.

Essential fatty acids are necessary for brain function, Vitamin A is needed for vision, probiotics are needed for a healthy gut function, all of which are generally lacking in our modern diets. Holistic Nutritionists' can pin point what is missing in the diet and find ways for your family to get it in!

There is also an allergy link to autism, so if you haven't gotten allergy testing for your child it is very helpful to have done it before working with your Holistic Nutritionist.

Wheat and dairy are common problematic foods and and keeping a food diary to note behaviors and symptoms can be very helpful for you.

“Holistic” means we will look at not only the diet but the lifestyle of you and your child. Optimum nutrition for a family with an autistic child like this is hard work, because of the 360 degree approach, we look at not only all the above but also the liver, eating healthy foods, when to eat, supplementing nutrients, supporting digestion and absorption, supporting the immune system and the brain. We look at exercise and activities, and find ways for you and your child to connect. We make beach dates and play with food to get the right ones in! You learn how to safely ferment your own foods for gut health, and where to buy the best quality ones for when you aren't making them.

I love thinking that autistic children are on a special mission.

The ones I have been lucky enough to work sure have been, and a wellness plan that includes a good deal of incorporating tools for emotional health of parents is helpful and comforting for parents who are tired and frustrated.


"I met Raina in my search for a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who could implement a wellness plan I'd been wanting for my autistic son. It's been so wonderful to find a kindred spirit, fully engaged, open to my thoughts-ideas, & truly interested in helping us to find a way to expand Garnets' tastes & work towards whole body wellness, for him & our family."

-J Jordan, Summerland BC

Nutritionist services are covered under the “Autism Funding Unit” through the BC government if you have a diagnosis and have registered through this organization. I take 1 family per year to work with and create a wellness plan. If you are located in the Okanagan Valley, BC please write me if you would like more information on how I can work with your family this year in the Okanagan.