It’s Autism awareness month and we here at Noor want to raise awareness by sharing different ways that caregivers can support those on the spectrum. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a condition that is a neurodevelopment disorder and affects how one perceives and interacts with others. The word spectrum is used because autism comes with a very broad range of symptoms and some may have very mild symptoms while others are more severe. Some children start to display symptoms in early infancy but are usually fully visible by the age of two. Language skills can be lost, along with signs of aggression, loss of eye contact, repetitive patterns and behavior, and difficulty communicating or learning. Feeding and eating can also pose a challenge for those with ASD.
My mother is an educational intervener at an elementary school and she has been working with autistic children for over 10 years. I have had the joy of witnessing firsthand how dedicated caregivers can help to improve symptoms of autism, which proves beneficial into adulthood. There is no cure for autism as yet but with patience and clever ways to implement new learning tools and eating habits, severe symptoms can be improved.
Autistic children and adults can be rather picky, especially when it comes on to foods and getting them to incorporate a healthy, balanced diet. The person may only like one type of food and because reasoning is not an option, it is up to the caregiver to ensure optimal health is achieved as it greatly influences behavior and an improvement of symptoms. Studies have already shown the relationship between vitamin deficiencies and ASD symptoms.
Autism vitamin deficiency is not uncommon, and although there are many ways to overcome picky eating, in this article we will focus on different vitamins for autism as a means of nutrient and behavioral support.
What better way to ensure optimal nutrition than to fill nutritional gaps with a children’s multivitamin. The great part about it is that there are different forms of multivitamins to choose from. Whether it be children’s vitamin gummies or a children’s chewable multivitamin, both offer an array of essential nutrients like B vitamins, vitamin A and antioxidants for balanced health. Gummy vitamins look and taste like candy, they are available for adults and children alike and their gummy benefits are agreeable for the picky eater.
In my opinion, Omega 3 is by far one of the most important supplements for those with ASD. This is because ASD is related to brain development and Omega 3 (Fish oils) directly affects cognitive function and neurological health. Omega 3 is a key vitamin for brain development. It is a healthy fat that is not manufactured in the body and must be obtained from external sources. A child’s brain begins to develop from inside the womb to about age 8, so supplementation while pregnant along with, during lactation and going forward is essential (hence the term Essential Fatty Acid).
Studies have shown that Omega 3 supplementation can help improve symptoms of hyperactivity, lethargy, and repetitive behavior in both adults and children. The liquid oil comes in many flavors and can be masked in smoothies, apple sauce, and juices. Soft gels are also an option for adults who have no issues with swallowing. If you want to test run some foods for brain development, try those that are high in Omega 3 like cold-water fish (salmon, tuna, and mackerel), avocado, nuts, and coconut oils. Dosage may vary with those on the spectrum so talk to your doctor about which dosage they feel is best.
Probiotics are essential for immune health, digestion, bowel regularity, and mood balance. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that reside in your gut and are in charge of keeping the delicate balance of your internal environment. Its integrity can get thrown off with too much sugar in the diet, constipation, pharmaceutical medication, and a lack of raw whole foods in the diet. Picky eaters may find a challenge in maintaining this balance so daily supplementation is helpful. Probiotics are available in capsule and powder form. The capsules are usually small and manageable and the powder has absolutely no test which makes it easy to mask in breakfast cereals, juices, and sauces.
Try to avoid masking in hot food or beverages as heat can kill the live bacteria. There are no toxicity effects but there are many strains of healthy bacteria, talk to your doctor about which one they feel is best.
Incorporating vitamins for picky eaters is a smart and clever way to extract essential nutrients from whole foods. Those with ASD may have trouble feeding and eating which puts that at the top of the list for vitamin supplementation. Obtaining the right nutrients can directly influence the improvement of one’s symptoms. Knowing which supplements are helpful for ASD can make all the difference.
If your child only chooses to eat a few things, try to get the healthiest option. For example, organic chicken nuggets that are preservative and chemical-free, juices with natural sweeteners like agave vs sugar (sucrose). The less toxic load in the body the better functioning, and that goes for us all, not just those on the spectrum. Although there is no cure for Autism, we caregivers can still do our part by offering our patients physical support and the best vitamins for kids.