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Help for Parents of Autistic Children

Written by PETA | October 9, 2009

On Monday, the journal Pediatrics published a study that showed a significant increase in the number of children who are diagnosed with autism or a similar disorder.

To educate the parents of autistic children about a possibility for improvement in their child’s condition, we are relaunching our autism billboard:


Studies have shown that many autistic kids improve dramatically when put on a diet free of dairy foods. One study of 20 children found a major reduction in autistic behavior in kids who were put on a casein-free diet (casein is a component of cow’s milk). Another study conducted by researchers at the University of Rome showed a “marked improvement” in the behavior of autistic children who were taken off dairy products. There are also countless heart-wrenching stories from parents of kids who had suffered the worst effects of autism for years before dairy foods were eliminated from their diets. Here is one mother’s story:


There was nothing to lose, so I decided to eliminate all the dairy products from his diet. What happened next was nothing short of miraculous. Miles stopped screaming, he didn’t spend as much time repeating actions, and by the end of the first week, he pulled on my hand when he wanted to go downstairs. For the first time in months, he let his sister hold his hands to sing “Ring Around a Rosy.”

Please, if you know someone with an autistic child, ask them to give this treatment a chance. There’s no guarantee of success, but it’s worth a try.

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  • Sheree Byington says:

    My son is 4 and has been gluten and casian free for a year. In this time he went from speaking 22 words to 157 words and sleeping through the night now as he never did before. Was it the change in the diet you tell me…I am saying it is worth a try if it helps one child have a better life. It helped my precious Sammy.

  • Susan says:

    It is politically correct to say “A person with Autism” same as “A person with Down Syndrome Diabetes learning disability” etc. This is people first language and looks at the person not the disability. People who are Autistic similar to Deaf Deaf Culture do not take issue with their behaviors and do not want or need correction. So this may be offensive to some people. I work with children and adolescents with autism and their families. You may want to reconsider some of your language when presenting this information

  • Concepción Zúñiga says:

    I have a 8 years old kid who was diagnosed a B level autism and a espeech delay. I would like to know more information about this illness and about the best specific doctors in BarcelonaSpain. Thank you very much.

  • terry says:

    rosemary thanks for that comment! i never thought of it in that light before though rarely drink milk due to lactose intolerance and not being entirely comfortable with the idea. debbie peterson i hope i am not overstepping bounds in sharing this but i went vegetarian at 2 and was a terribly picky eater. as an educator i know now i had a lot of texturalsensory issues and was on the spectrum somewhere but was never fully diagnosed. i grew up eating peanut butter white bread cottage cheese noodles and a few other things and i am fairly healthy. i believe he will learn to eat different foods when he is ready. it took me well into my 20’s to eat broccoli and there are still foods that i will not try due to texture or smell. remember children need to try new foods 10 to 20 before they decide if they like it! best of luck!

  • Melinda Gallup says:

    My son is autistic. However he never has had cows milk. He has never been able to have anything dairy because his body cannot process it. There is one thing that was left out of this article though. Just removing dairy products can help but you should use the casein free diet along with a glutenfree diet.

  • Sariah says:

    I have worked with children with autism for 15 years. It has been my experience that the children who have improvements in behavior are allergic or sensitive to dairy and wheat products they have autisticlike symptoms. However many children with autism do not respond to this diet. I firmly believe that cow’s milk is for cows but there are so many parents who put their child on this diet hoping for a miracle that just doesn’t happen. This information gives parents false hope. There is no one answer or cureall for autism. The best we can do is educate ourselves and offer understanding and support to families in this difficult situation.

  • Dr. W says:

    While I agree that dairy is probably not the healthiest choice. PETA needs to be a bit more scientific with its claims and back away from scare tactics. One study of 20 people represents a totally inadequate sample size for which no scientific conclusions can be drawn. The autism rates are have now increased to 1 out of 100 children. Autism is more likely caused by pollution or plastics that have invaded every facet of our lives. There is a stronger likelihood that plastics may be to blame. Check out the environmental working groups website.

  • Adena says:

    Heh my lil bro has autism and I’ve got aspergers which is a minor higher functioning strain of autism. My parents tried putting Richard on all kinds of funky diets but none of them had a noticable effect so we just gave up on food related things and got him help from a child development centre. It’s amazing how far he’s come along and now he’s on these detox sprays that are supposed to remove the heavy metals like mercury and lead from his system and they’re helping a LOT! Compared to how he used to be he’s almost like a “normal” person. D

  • Urago says:

    I find the billboard misleading when it comes to the way it presents its information. Question time If I’m correct doesn’t the human body have enzymes to help digest lactose found in milk? If we have an enzyme for that it would mean we are biologically designed to drink milk.

  • George Greek says:

    We truly live in confusing times! We live in an age of conflicting claims. No one really knows what causes Autism. Perhaps it is a confluence of many different factors alone or in concert genetics toxins in vaccines or environment dairy lack of oxygen at birth lack of Vitamin B12 etc. etc. etc.!

  • Debbie Peterson says:

    My grandson was diagnosed with mild autism and speech delay. I tried the gluten freecasien free diet and I have had a terrible time. He won’t eat. He was vegan at 1 year by 2years he slowly became vegetarian. Now at 3 he is only eating what he wants. Mac Cheese peanutbutter jelly white bread cereal. He won this battle but it is setting the stage for how he will eat later. He does like morning star vege dogs and burgers.

  • deanna cintas says:

    i am interested in reposting the article or study that shows autistic kids improve when put on a diet free of dairy foods. please provide a reference.

  • Rosemary says:

    30 years ago I raised three daughters without a drop of cow’s milk passing their lips. I’m glad to see this article and I’m glad the rest of the world is waking up to see that we’re not biologically designed to ingest the milk of a fourlegged beastie.

  • Michelle says:

    I got into an argument last night with a VET of all people about milk and how it adversely affects our bodies this started because he told my mom he could give our bottle baby kitten cow’s milk and I gasped knowing that was so wrong!. Dairy is so full of antibiotics and hormones now that we don’t know what it might be causing or exacerbating in our children. Down with dairy!

  • DEAD=HAPPINESS(: says:

    Really? Milk?

  • Megan Feibusch says:

    This is so interesting. My brother is autistic and was in the hospital for a long time. When he came out he wasn’t doing too well. About a year later we found out he was lactosintolerant. When he stopped drinking milk his behavior greatly improved but I never made the connection.

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