Diet (and the gut-brain connection)
In the film Carly and Stef explore specific diets developed for autism in hopes of lessening some of Oskar’s symptoms. They had success with older son Ted when they introduced a gluten free and casein free diet and they hoped to see similar changes in Oskar. They found that Oskar had different needs than Ted so their diet evolved as the film progressed.
“Our diet didn’t happen overnight! …Like many things with our family it has been a journey and lots of time to get where we are today… yet we still have things we can (and hopefully will) change too!”
Recent studies in biology show that our gut bacteria (also known as the microbiome) influences physical and mental health, including disorders of the central nervous system. Sometimes called our “second brain,” the gastrointestinal tract communicates with our brain, influencing and responding to our mood, anxiety, cognition and pain. And although scientists aren’t sure yet how that works, many think that immune and nervous system disorders such as autism are, at least partly, caused by or producing abnormal gut function. In fact, researchers have found differences between the microbiome of kids with and without autism. Kids diagnosed with ASD show fewer types of bacteria, and they usually suffer gastrointestinal upset. Accordingly, what kids with autism eat may turn out to be very important. See the videos at the bottom of this page for more information.
For more information about Carly and Stef’s experience with dietary changes visit Carly’s blog, The Muddy Path.
A note from Carly & Stef
We invited director Steve Suderman to share our story with the hope that our experience would offer comfort to other families facing similar experiences, and provide insight into life with a special needs child for those who aren’t familiar with the highs and lows of parenting on the spectrum.
This film portrays the beginning of our journey and our story is far from over. We hope that the film demonstrates that there is no single “correct” way to approach the task of supporting your child on their developmental path. We wanted to empower parents to do their own research, and make choices with the intention that they can help their child to thrive, regardless of their diagnosis. We think the film Steve made does this and this website has some additional videos and information for those who want to find out more about topics and therapies featured in the film.
For parents of children with autism the first year after diagnosis can be confusing and tiring. At times you might feel that you can never do enough research, the options are endless, and the developmental milestones can seem unattainable. The important thing to remember is that as parents it is our job to advocate, observe and use our gut instincts! It's not "one size fits all” and different therapies work for different children. Try therapies that your gut tells you might be a good fit for what you are seeing in your child, and maybe stop anything that doesn’t seem to work since you can always try again later. You know your child better than anyone else and you can trust that instinct.
Lastly, you don’t need to spend a lot of money. There are lots of free things in books or the internet that you can do or try at home. Don’t break the bank – listen to your gut!
Statement of Values
For a year director Steve Suderman followed Carly, Stef and their five children, as the family faced each challenge and joy that arose since their son Oskar’s autism diagnosis. Throughout the film Carly and Stef try a range of therapies and treatments; all out of love for their son and the desire to connect with him. The intent of the documentary is not to endorse or dissuade from any particular treatment. Rather, our hope is that the film will communicate the experience of a family touched by autism, something parents can share with family, caregivers, and friends to offer an insight into their world.
We believe that autism is a unique way of being in the world. We advocate for inclusion, respect, and increased services that make tangible differences in the lives of those on the spectrum - and their families. We hope that this collection of articles and videos from our team and other third-party sources will help provide a fuller picture of the treatments, therapies, and ideas explored in the film.
Carly and Stef, the family featured in this film, maintain a blog called The Muddy Path. Please check it out to learn more about their experiences raising a family with children on the autism spectrum.
The Muddy Path: Diet
“So, can diet really affect the body and more importantly the brain even on a short term basis? YES!“
In the process of making this film, we collected a lot of additional material we wanted to share. We hope you find it helpful.
Understanding diet and autism
Dr. Emma Allen-Vercoe discusses the potential impacts of dietary intervention on children with autism. While diets aren’t one size fits all, she explains, a holistic approach to food and careful observation of your child can result in gradual improvement of their microbial balance.
How we get our microbes at birth
Dr. Emma Allen-Vercoe explains how we are inoculated with microbes at birth and in early life. Research suggests that this prepares our bodies to respond to the micro biota that we encounter in the world around us and protects against unhealthy microbes.
Antibiotics and our microbes
Gut health has decreased over the years as multiple generations have made regular use of antibiotics. We are now seeing negative health effects as the result of the loss microbes that have co-existed with humans for thousands of years. Microbes, in partnership with our digestive system, can be thought of as a vital organ and we now understand the importance of caring for that system as a whole.
Learn more about the people and ideas featured in the film.
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