My son is 3 ½ and was diagnosed with Autism at 2½. He also presented with almost all of the criteria for the hyperactivity side of ADHD. The diagnosing doctor gave us very little information to go ahead with. By good fortune my husband picked up Sue Dengate's Failsafe Cookbook the weekend after our son was diagnosed, when I was still reeling and had no idea which direction to head in. We went looking for triggers for our sons hyperactive bouts, he was always active, preferring to permanently run rather than walk, and he had no attention span, but sometimes he would just go off, usually for about two days, where he would literally climb the furniture, sitting on top of the bookshelf, watching TV upside down, while lying on top of it, and he was causing his older sister, not to mention his parents, huge amounts of grief.

Early intervention has proved a godsend, but even so, we couldn't get him to sit still, or even sit down! and ADHD drug trialling was mentioned, if we couldn't improve his behaviour. This made me very nervous because previously any medication, bar panadol, for more than 3 days, sent him berserk. I now understand this to be the flavourings in all children's medication (I thought I was covering my bases buying colour-free!) Before I went to RPAH I had done quite a lot of work on his diet myself, and we had discovered a lot ourselves, but after I'd read Sue's book and been to RPAH I was able to make a real difference for our son. His biggest problem is salicylates and colourings - why didn't anyone know to tell me that bad nappy rash is always a sign of salicylate intolerance? That sign was present from when he was a baby. I always put it down to teething - how wrong I was! What a huge amount of grief we could have been saved if we'd known.

Our son is a typical limited Autistic eater. We were told that he was eating a good nutritious diet and we shouldn't interfere. After RPAH and Sue's book, we learned that almost everything our son was eating was bad for his intolerances. I'd tried Helgas Rye bread thinking I was avoiding bread preservative 282 - with no idea that vinegar was a problem! He drank lots of diluted apple juice - so I bought the one with no flavourings and thought he would pee out what he didn't need, which he did. I thought it was good that he drank between 2 and 3 litres a day - the chemist told me it wasn't a problem. RPAH told us he was consuming the equivalent of 10 - 12 apples a day and he is salicylate intolerant!!! Since we removed the fruit juice, he doesn't crave it any more and now drinks about 1 litre of water a day - and it was far easier than I could have imagined!

So even with lots of knowledge under my belt and advice from all the so called "experts" before I went to RPAH I still was far off base. Three days on the elimination diet and our son was a changed child. Preschool reports that he now walks instead of runs. As a result he has slowed down enough to take an interest in the activities around him. He has broken the diet a couple of times, so one week in we inadvertently challenged salicylates and colourings, both with obvious results.

The good news is that he is allowed to still eat wheat, pears, and drink diluted pear syrup from tinned pears, and he has adapted beautifully - something I never thought possible.

Our son is still Autistic - it's not a cure - but it has certainly made a difference to his hyperactivity and therefore he is now far more teachable, with a wider interest base, and the ability to pay attention to things better than before. Grandparents who were sceptics of the diet have noticed that he is calmer, and can only attribute it to the diet. He has even started looking at his grandad, for the first time in two years!

We are only in the second month of the elimination diet, with several mishaps already under our belts, but I really wanted to encourage anyone who is thinking about the diet, dealing with Autism or ADHD - give it a go - you'll learn a lot. It has lowered the stress on our family, particularly his five year old sister, considerably, and has made our son far easier to deal with. Also, when he is not affected by a food infringement, his eye contact improves, he is coming out with new words every week, and is approaching other teachers, apart from his regular carer, something he's never done before.

Interestingly, before we went to RPAH, Sue Dengate told us the main problem would be salicylates but I couldn't face it, I thought it was too hard. It really wasn't that hard, and the fast results were well worth it. Sorry about the long email, but I hope I can encourage others out there to give it a go. - from failsafe2 discussion group

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