My Son Has Autism—That’s Why I Support PETA’s Autism Campaign
Last week, bloggers revived a 2008 PETA ad noting the potential link between dairy consumption and autism symptoms. We created the ad after hearing from many parents of children with autism who had reduced their children’s symptoms by cutting out dairy products. We wanted to let other parents know about the potential benefits of dropping dairy products.
While parents’ experiences are admittedly anecdotal, such evidence can be an important impetus for further research. As Harvard-trained physician Raphael Campo explains, “Whether we choose to admit it or not, the anecdote continues to be an important engine of novel ideas in medicine. … When we fail to listen to our patients’ stories, we lose the opportunity to discover what truly ails them.”
Gillian Loughran, editor of the U.K.’s Autism Eye magazine and the mother of a child with autism, was quick to voice her support for PETA, our campaign, and the benefits that children with autism may reap by eliminating dairy products from their diets. She sent the following letter to each publication that covered the story:
I’m aware of the controversy surrounding PETA’s billboard and Web feature that highlights a possible link between the consumption of dairy products and the symptoms of autism.
From a very young age, my son, who has autism, has been on a casein-free, gluten-free diet. It’s quite common within the autism community, and numerous parents are making this switch.
Many of us have found that a no-dairy, no-wheat diet improves our children’s sleep, behaviour and concentration. Our children become more focused and find it easier to learn in school, and they also experience fewer gastrointestinal issues.
My son, now 14, is a strapping lad who is taller than his father. He is growing, maturing and learning quite well. But when he consumes dairy products, his symptoms come back. He can’t concentrate, focus or sleep well.
The magazine I edit, “Autism Eye,” published by award-winning journalists, who are also parents of children with autism, reports on different interventions and diets that can have a positive impact on our children’s lives. And we have covered the link between consuming dairy products and the symptoms of autism. We don’t give our readers medical advice because we are not doctors, but we certainly give parents information about what is reported to be working for other people and then let them and their doctors determine whether it helps their child.
Similarly, I understand that PETA distributed the information that it received from parents and left it up to individual families to decide what to do with it. Knowledge is power. And I don’t see a problem with that.