Did she have Autism or Leaky Gut?
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
Client names and identifying information changed
Samantha was born by C-section after a long, difficult labour turned a bit nasty. Her mum, Casey really wanted a natural birth as she felt this would be the best start for Samantha, but this was not an option due to complications.
To make matters worse, little Samantha had trouble sucking and had to go onto the bottle after only a few days. Samantha seemed to thrive well and that appeared to be the end of the story, until Samantha was about 2yrs old and started to behave ‘differently’.
Casey said it was after Samantha had a vaccine injection, but it’s hard to say what may have happened, except that her little girl was just ‘different’. Doctors didn’t know what was going on and Casey was passed off as being a ‘worrier’. By the time Samantha was four she was rude, belligerent, cried frequently, held her tummy a lot and fought with her brother at any given moment.
Samantha started pre-school and the child-carer suggested that she get tested for autism because her behaviour was uncontrollable most of the time, with very little engagement with other children, except to hit them.
When Casey brought Samantha to my clinic, no tests had been done at that stage. So I observed Samantha and she seemed to be in pain, although this had not been mentioned by either mum or Sam. I asked Samantha where it hurt and she looked at me blankly as if she didn’t know what that meant.
Casey said that Sam never complained about pain, but maybe she didn’t know what it was and just used her actions to express herself. Even though Samantha was four she didn’t talk much, which worried Casey.
We ran some tests including a comprehensive digestive stool analysis to look at her good and bad bacteria levels. We also looked at her mineral and metal levels.
The results were quite mind blowing for such a small person. It appeared that Samantha had developed celiac disease, even though there was no family history.
Her gut was very inflamed which meant she would not have been absorbing any nutrients.
Her bacteria levels showed high bad bacteria and hardly any good bacteria. Her heavy metal screen showed high copper and very low zinc, magnesium, potassium and calcium. Her poor little body simply couldn’t absorb any good minerals from her diet.
The first thing to address was diet and Samantha was taken off all gluten foods and all foods with any possible cross-reactivity. She was fed lots of foods rich in vital minerals to support her body and to help to heal her ‘leaky gut’.
We could not get her to take any supplements, although we did manage to sneak in some probiotic powders into coconut milk for her, which she loved. Generally, she seemed happy to comply with the diet (although some creative bartering was needed for full compliance).
Six weeks later she was a new girl. Her behaviour was significantly better, she was more settled, listened to those around her and expressed herself much more. She held her attention on me when we spoke and when I asked her about her tummy pains, and pointed to her tummy at the same time, she smiled and shook her head.
Samantha did need speech pathology support, but I saw her a few years later and she had grown up so well and was happy to see me and show me a picture she had drawn for me as a present. You wouldn’t know she was the same little girl that I first met and she certainly didn’t have any sign of autism at all.