"In a "nutshell," I thought it was an excellent reference book. I, myself, have tried to use this diet in the past but found it an overwhelming task. Barrie, however, gives you a step by step guide to make your implementation of the diet much easier .....what foods, where to buy foods, and how to stay on the diet while eating out, vacationing, and even for a hospital stay. I certainly recommend adding this book to your personal library." - Parenting Special Needs Magazine
Barrie Silberberg is the parent of an autistic child with whom she practiced the GFCF diet. She is on The Autism Perspective advisory board, and on the ANDI (Autism Network for Dietary Intervention) parent support site, offering help with the diet. She lives in Los Angeles.
We read both this book and The Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook when embarking 3 months ago on our gluten-free, casein-free diet for our 3 year old daughter, diagnosed with autism. The effects of the diet were immediately apparent. While I was skeptical about its possible positive influence (b/c my dd didn't suffer from the frequent ear infections, bowel problems, or infections that others seem to have cured by the diet), the results were almost miraculous. Contrary to the withdrawal symptoms the author describes, my usually lethargic daughter actually became quite hyperactive for the first week or two. Then, it evened out and suddenly, she's having conversations (although she was always verbal, it was very scripted and was mostly manding, which was a vast improvement over the small vocabulary she had when diagnosed-->thanks to a year's worth of ABA therapy). She told her first joke. Within the same week or two, she quit using her pacifier at night and started sleeping soundly. Her occupational therapist told me 5 weeks in that my dd was a completely different girl. She was focused, on task (at least for that session for the first time) and cooperated throughout the hour long session. No, her autism wasn't cured yet, but the speech improvements, the longer attention spans, her improved social interest, shrunken pot belly, and improved physical coordination over just 3 months, has prompted me to explore biomedical treatments.
My criticisms of the book though is that I think it was incredibly overwhelming and scary for someone who was on the fence like me about embarking on the large burden of transforming their kitchen and cooking. She was almost extremist about her positions--suggesting that you buy entirely separate utensils and appliances. I simply can't afford to do that and implying that not finding success "because I didn't implement the diet fully or correctly or consistently" [paraphrased] hurts more than helps parents who are seeking answers. I would normally knock only one star off for this reason, but because I find so much value in the diet and its miraculous potential for ASD kids, I am further disappointed that the book makes it seem that the only people who pursue this diet are crackpots. I would highly recommend the The Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook; it is much more accessible and even-handed.
If you found this review helpful, please let me know.
HIghly Recommened to Parents Wishing to Help Cure Their Child2009/4/2
My name is Arman Khodaei, and I was once diagnosed as having autism. I myself have been on a casein free diet for a long period of my life. I run an autism support group, and give many presentations on autism. I've had many parents over the years ask me about the GFCF (gluten free, casein-free) diet and the best way to implement it. Finally, a book has been released that fully addresses that questions for parents. I'm a firm believer that diet has a major impact on individuals from both first-hand experience and also from what other parents tell me. I, myself, before going casein free had insane temper tantrums among many other autistic tendencies that once milk was removed from my diet, they greatly calmed. I've had parents come to my group and tell me that once they started the GFCF diet that their children were able to verbalize if they were non-verbal among many other improvement in behaviors. Overall, I recommend this book because I believe in it and the GFCF diet.
Truly a One-Stop Resource2009/10/18
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that certain substances such as gluten (present in some grains) and casein (present in dairy) can exacerbate conditions such as autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Thus there has begun the elimination diet movement whereby suspected culprit substances are entirely eliminated from the diet.
Barrie Silberberg has written a guidebook to the elimination diet approach that focuses specifically on gluten-free and casein-free (GFCF) living but which includes certain other strategies and resources that need not be tied specifically to the GFCF platform. For example, resources do include GFCF recipes. But they also include more generic elimination diet strategies such as ways to avoid cross-contamination, red flags that one might not consider (culprit substances in cosmetics, medications or pet foods for example), compensating for "lost" nutrition, and the whole concept of substituting acceptable ingredients for those not allowed. In the GFCF universe this translates to versions of cookies, bread, "ice cream" and even play dough that are still possible. Included too are references to companies in the U.S. and abroad that manufacture GFCF and other elimination diet foods. Also here are lists with contact information on related programs, alternative interventions and approaches, support groups, message boards, ListServs and forums not to mention an exhaustive catalog of the many foods in which culprit substances are present. There are even compilations of Silberberg's own footwork, i.e. lists of individual GFCF products that can be found in regular supermarkets. These lists are based on Silberberg's own research, label-reading and phone conversations with representatives of various companies.
Finally, let it be noted that Silberberg's own son is autistic. He, himself, has been on the GFCF elimination diet since he was seven years old. While he was in elementary school, his parents were told he must leave the school or else enroll in either the class for the severely emotionally disturbed or the one for those suffering moderate to severe autistism. Yet by the time he reached middle school, he was an award-winning honors student. The final chapter of this book was written by him.
Finally a book that treats the subject realistically!2009/6/3
I read this book in a couple of hours. Once I started,is was like a great mystery, I couldn't wait til the next chapter. Ms. Silberberg has written a touching, funny and realistic guide that anybody can use and understand. Not only does she give you lists of items you can purchase but she also gives you detailed information about where to find these items. And if that isn't enough, she has even given us recipes. Forget Jenny's book, this is the one you need!!!
The author appears to condone the SAD (Standard American Diet), and provides information to help parents subsitute one processed diet for another, with the only difference being the elimination of gluten and casein and of most artificial additives. The book is very USA-focused, with a long list of American brand names of processed foods without gluten or casein, but of otherwise dubious nutritional value. It also lists shops in the USA where one can purchase gluten-free and casein-free foods, and restaurants that can offer GFCF foods. The proposed diet is still very grain-based, and very few words are devoted to a broader discussion of a nutritional diet. The book does not attempt to discuss theoretical causes of ADHD, and barely attempts to explain why the GFCF diet can work. There is no mention of scientific research into the effect of the diet, and no list of references at the end of the book. The author also discusses the Feingold diet, which may help some (or even many?) ADHD sufferers, but which eliminates so many nutritious vegetables and fruits, that it cannot be conducive to health if followed long-term. The book is padded out with ininspiring and not particularly healthy recipes, and testimonials from parents of ADHD children around the world. It does not address trying to change the way children eat, in a more profound and healthful way. I found the book superficial and unscientific, and it provided me with no more insight or knowledge into the subject than I started with. However, if I were a parent living in the USA with a child with ADHD or autism, if I had little knowledge of nutrition, and if I wanted my child to keep eating the same SAD food s/he was already eating and just wanted to find GFCF substitutes for those, I may find the book useful.