Healing Our Son’s Autism – The Best Therapy of All

The information provided in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice.
It is not a substitute for your doctor's care plan or advice.

Mountain Road -Healing Autism

Our oldest son has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism, and we have been on the road towards healing with him for some 5 years now.  We've put him on a gluten-free diet, a candida diet, use only non-toxic personal care products and we drink only filtered water.

In short, we've tried a lot of things to get him healthier, and while we've seen progress, it's been a long road.

A long “healing road.”

The start of the “healing road” was a fast and furious one.  Well–actually, I take that back.

The start of our healing road actually seemed like more of a major road block.

Our family physician recommended an appointment with the Dept. Head of Psychology at our local children's hospital and a mental nervous drug prescription.  I had already started down the “alternative medicine” path prior to the autism diagnosis, but at this point I found myself moving quickly into a brand new world.

The following months are a blur now, consisting mainly of mom being up until midnight (or later), scouring the internet for therapies that might help, reading accounts of healing, wondering if what other parents said had healed their children —might.just.heal.mine.

I have mixed feelings as I write this, because I do not want to insinuate that what I have done might work for your child – and thus set up for you expectations that might not become a reality.  However, at the same time, I feel that to not share the things that have helped us would be a true disservice to others who are looking for help.

So here is a brief history of our treatment path.  Some successes.  Some “failures”.  What we have done and what we are doing now.  And what I think is perhaps the best healing technique of all.

{Please note – there are affiliate links in this post. If you click on them and make a purchase, I might make a commission. Your price remains the same and your support is greatly appreciated. It helps keep this free resource up and running.}

Natural Treatments for Autism

1.  Occupational Therapy 

We did a lot with this at the beginning of our journey. Sensory Integration, massage, touch, brushing… we tried to fit a number of these things into our schedule. It was hard to do and got tedious frequently.

But we did feel that it helped at least to some point.  One of the books that we found to be the most helpful was The Out-of-Sync Child.

2.  Genetic testing & Nutritional Supplementation

This was overall a flop.  While the testing was interesting, the supplement regimen was completely overwhelming both mentally and financially.  We could not afford the expert-directed evaluations and I was unable to handle the intense trial-and-error approach to supplement management.  We spent quite a bit of money up front and quickly moved on. 

Luckily, I still had all my hair :-).

Update 4/17:  After trying out several different practitioners, we are going back to this and moving much more slowly. It's based on MTHFR and other genetic testing.  I've seen some improvement and am thinking we'll be checking this out more.

3.  Dietary Intervention

Gluten-Free and Casein-Free

There is a lot of information available in books and on the web about gluten and casein (a protein found in cow's milk) and the roles that they are thought to have in aggravating autism.

I won't go into all of this here, but suffice it to say that I think that removing these proteins from your child's diet is imperative.  There is data showing that the real effects can sometimes take quite awhile to show up, though there are plenty of stories about children showing marked improvement almost instantaneously.

While I follow more of a whole foods approach than the author, the book Special Diets for Special Kids contains a wealth of information on this topic.

To see how manageable (and tasty :-)) a gluten-free and dairy-free diet can be, take a look at my Recipes page.  There, you'll find healthy, whole food ideas for some of our family's favorites like:

Whole Foods

This means whole grains, and few to no processed foods.  Basically, no “junk.”  This is crucial.  It sounds overwhelming, but basically, kids with autism have broken bodies and we need to do everything we can to allow them to heal.  Putting “junk” food into a broken body will just continue to muck up the mechanisms and delay healing of all kinds.  In fact, it might even worsen the situation.

The Candida Diet

Our son, like many persons with autism, struggles with candida overgrowth.  Candida basically is a candida albicans, a fungus that is present in all people's bodies, but, when one's digestive flora is out of balance, grows out of control and starts to cause systemic issues.

I love baking and, well, my son loves to eat.  For a good part of his childhood, I was baking whole grain goodies regularly, and he ate them–well, too regularly.  At one point, things really got out of hand and his trunk was covered with a rash and he was lifting up his shirt in public to scratch himself.

Suspecting that the rash might be caused by candida, we took him off of all sugars, including dried fruit and fruit, and limited his grain intake.  The rash cleared up within two days, following one night of worsening, which is typical when the candida is starved of its food (sugars).

We kept him on a pretty strict diet for a while, and his skin is perfectly clear now. Simply gorgeous, in fact. He now has fruit and dried fruit occasionally, and we are not limiting his starches as much.  But refined flours and sugars are out of his diet almost 100%, and I suspect that that will continue for his entire life.

And while it can be tough to keep your child (or yourself) on a special diet, here are some tips to help you do just that.

4.  Nutritional Balancing

This is the name of the current protocol that we are using for our son.  Basically it is a program that naturally coaxes out heavy metals and toxins by re-balancing the body nutritionally and with supplements.  I have been genuinely pleased with his progress and scientifically measured tests have demonstrated that the metals are coming out of his body.  We are working with a specialist named Theresa Vernon and have been thrilled with her expertise, compassion, and knowledge of the adrenals and their role in total body health.

Update: 3/17/14.  We have moved on from Nutritional Balancing.  I hope to write soon about what we are doing now.

5.  Essential Oils 

As I mentioned in my post on Natural Sleeping Tips, I have begun gradually experimenting with essential oils.  One way that I have been using these with our son is when his anxiety gets out of control.

Every night my son ask me to use lavender oil to prevent bad dreams.  Seems to work :).  Sometimes younger brother asks for it too. (You can read Which Essential Oils Company is Best for more information on how I chose which essential oils company to go with.)

The oils really seem to help him better manage his mood swings and get the sleep that his body so greatly needs.  In fact, while I put the finishing touches on this post, my son had a panic attack and asked that I would please rub some lavender oil on his feet.

Within two minutes, the panic had subsided.

6.  Perhaps the Best Therapy of All – “Low and Slow” 

There are, in my opinion, a number of causes of autism.  My theory is basically that it is a “whole person” affliction, affecting the nervous system, brain, digestive system, and endocrine system.  The more I learn about adrenal health, the more I see how healthy adrenal health is crucial to whole wellness.

Basically, the more stressed out one is, the less toxins are filtered out of the body, digestion worsens and everything goes downhill from there.

So while it is my tendency to try to find new ways to help my son and to work tirelessly at them, I find that really, one of the best ways to help him is to do whatever I do–calmly.

A dear friend told me of another mother of a child with Asperger's who called being calm with her son, “Low and Slow.”

How appropriate.

Just simply loving our son as he is, speaking softly and sweetly, and having a sense of peace has an almost magical effect on him.  Literally any day that I can slow down and live at a more restful pace is a day when I can really “see” him healing and blossoming.

It isn't easy, but it is cheap!  And keeping my own self calm truly is the most effective healing technique that we have tried (though it is likely the most difficult).

In closing, I don't mean to insinuate that any of the above methods will for sure help your child with autism, and here is the classic, but necessary, disclaimer:  I am not a doctor, nor a nurse, nor any kind of medical practitioner.  I was pre-med for a brief time in college and I devour medical information voraciously, but that's about it.  I'm just a mom struggling to heal her son, hoping to help other parents along the healing road as well.  Please consult with your own physician prior to following any of my recommendations :-).

Blessings to you and yours as you continue down this road.

What Natural Treatments Have You Tried?
Which Have Worked for Your Child?

{Photo Credit}



These comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Whole New Mom, LLC.


    Speak Your Mind


  1. Kelli Leo says:

    Hi Adrienne,

    When your son was diagnosed, was he out on medications? I have a nephew who was recently diagnosed with autism and ADHD (I think) and has had more medication than you can fathom. I fear his growing brain can’t handle it and is making him worse. How did you come to learn about the gluten and casein free diets? All of this is very overwhelming; where do we begin? Are there clinics (alternative therapy is what I like to call it) available that “specialize” in the “road to recovery” that you know of? Not sure if I’m getting my point across quite right. Thanks for listening.

    • Hi there. We never had him on meds. It’s been something we have considered but have chosen to go the natural route so that we could know what was triggering issues and therein have a better chance of really healing him instead of masking issues. I did so much research when I started and GF / DF was one of the diets most often recommended for autistics. I started with gluten free since our son is deathly allergic to dairy so he never had it. Removing artificial things from his diet was something we did from the beginning. Removing lots of carbs and sugar was a huge help. Gut health is a big deal for these kids and too many carbs really does a number on them: https://wholenewmom.com/health-concerns/do-you-believe-this-myth-about-gut-health-plus-the-perfect-storm-for-gut-imbalance-and-illness/

      There are lots of docs to consider. Some are called DAN docs. We didn’t have much money when we started this all so I did most of it myself. Some really like the perspective of someone like Amy Yasko. You can get tests from her and then work on the forums to see what to do. It’s confusing but good info.

  2. Norio Ando says:

    Autism can be healed or at least a lot improved, if we can elicit relaxed pleasure from autistic children.
    Relaxed pleasure appears at around 6-7 months old which shows the feeling of satisfaction.
    It’s roles is to feel satisfaction and peace, to let people be intimate with people, to let the mind flexible and generous. We can elicit relaxed pleasure through at first eliciting pleasure and next eliciting relaxation by arms swinging for example. When we repeat a cycle of pleasure and relaxation, gradually autistic children come to express relaxed pleasure spontaneously in daily life. As a result, autistic personality becomes flexible and affectionate. I recommend you observing your child’s emotional expressions and eliciting relaxed pleasure.
    I am a Japanese clinical psychologist. I have been treating children with developmental disorders based on emotional development for years.

    • Hello there. This is very interesting. Thanks for sharing. Did you notice that I lived in Japan for a year? I had a heavy concentration of Japanese language and Japanese studies in college and after returning to the US I was immersed in the Japanese culture that is in this country. Just today I heard from my longest-standing student whom I taught in the US.

      I am curious to know more about this – does this work at older ages? How much improvement did you see with this? Do you have recommendations for how to do this kind of therapy with older children? Thank you greatly.

  3. Alexandra Maas says:

    Autism can’t be healed. You can do a lot to provide your child with skills and tools to cope with life as he meets it, but he cannot be healed.
    Implying that is rude, cruel and ignorant.

  4. Donna McFarland says:

    I have a 12yo son with Asperger’s and I am just discovering essential oils. Anxiety is a big thing for us, and my son says YL’s Stress Away helps more than the Rx meds we tried earlier this year. I see you’ve done a lot of research since this article was written. Do you have anything about what other essential oils help with autism stuff? Thanks.

  5. Why did you choose to stop doing nutritional balancing?

    • I wasn’t seen any progress and in fact my thyroid got very out of whack and the practitioner that I was working with didn’t seem to know how to handle it. After the fact, I heard that my practitioner might not have been good – I’m not sure what to think. But I have made a lot of progress with other things and am still moving forward. Thanks for reading!

  6. You mentioned that gelatin affected your son, do you mean gelatin as in bone broth gelatin? Our son is on a very restricted diet. He has been diagnosed with PANS. Certain foods cause the inflammation in his brain to flare up and it is like he is out of his mind. I never would have guessed gelatin could be bad for him. Thank you.

  7. Sandra Martinez says:

    I saw a TED talk where the mom was a bio-chemical engineer, if I remember correctly, and she did several of the same things you have tried. One of the biggest items that helped was the removal of MSG – and there were over 50 names for MSGs in products that she shared. SHe also showed a video of a before and after incident – it was incredible: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iL4SD5f2toQ

    • Yes I have heard about this. Some of it I don’t agree with, but some I do. It’s interesting, I did find that there is more free glutamate in lemon juice than in gelatin, but I removed some gelatin from my son’s diet and he seemed to do better immediately. So it’s all very puzzling. Thanks for sharing! I will watch it later!

  8. I like the low and slow approach. I try to get to yoga at least 3 times a week to help me stay calm and cool while taking care of 3 sons. My oldest son is 7 and has high functioning ASD. We have done all the traditional therapies and he is doing well, but can be a social mess… a lot. We have him in a social group once a week at our speech therapy office. There are these amazing books by Michelle Garcia Winner, the series we use are called the incredible flexible you. Thanks for doing so much research on essential oils, I have been using EO on my son to help with his anxiety and worry. I will check out RMO as I am currently using doTerra rt now and have used YL, Mountain rose herbs and Eden’s Garden but would like to find a vetiver, cedar wood and lavender that actually works.

    • Thanks for commenting. I need to read this post again for myself!

      I am going to be writing more about other oils companies, hopefully in the near future. Thanks for reading!

  9. To all you lovely parents,

    Has anyone tried the SCD (specific carb diet) or GAPS diet. I just got the book from Dr Natasha Campbell and have only had time for a few pages….but please have a look. I will b attempting this with my son. The books is called “Gut and psychology syndrome”.

    We have been on gluten and dairy free for nearly 2 months and it has definitely made a difference. But Dr Campbell says…removing only gluten n dairy is not enough. And that there are harmful things in the gluten free products (very high in sugar I’ve noticed and other harmful chemicals.

    It will be hard…but many people have tried and seemingly succeeded.

    Has anyone tried chlorella? I’ve just bought it and feel it will help chelate/detox metals from our kids’ toxic bodies.

    Antibiotics destroy the gut, which is where 70% of our immunity is …in the gut (intestines). I was very surprised. So diet seems a great way for treatment and one that EVERY parent must start with. Don’t waste time going gluten n dairy free first. Jump into the GAPS diet…for bout 2 years. *sigh* Let the hard times roll ??

    Just wanted to share what I’ve found so far.

    • I have tried chlorella – the only thing I would say is that some people don’t handle detox well so be careful with that. You should make sure that you think that the person can handle it first.

      • How long did you try chlorella for and did you see any benefit? If not what negative behaviours did you experience?

        • I didn’t take it alone, but in a greens blend. I’m not sure what to say b/c there were other things in it. My son took it w/ spirulina and I was concerned that perhaps he wasn’t doing as well on it but I know he has detox issues. It’s more an overall concern than a statement that we didn’t do well on it.

          • I’ve managed to find your page again! That’s the trouble of constantly changing phones I guess.

            Ok…I still haven’t tried the chlorella as I’m still doing research on it, but feel that as soon as we get a few days off…we shall start using it (provided I don’t find something horrible about it) so we can observe the experience of “on chlorella” and help him go through it. definitely in the next 3 weeks or so. Not sure how long to try it for before I start seeing any effect (positive or not)….within how many days did your son start reacting to the chlorella + spirulina? is there such a thing as a “standard time” to try chlorella for before moving on?

          • Glad to see you again!

            I never really noticed a number of days and perhaps it was something else, but there are of course different thoughts about so many things. I have read that Dr. Yasko (one of the doctors whose protocols I am looking at now for my son) thinks that there is too much copper in chlorella, and others points out that it has a high sulfur content. So I think it’s hard to know. I was mainly concerned w/ the detox effect but am still learning and not sure what to think. I typically believe that maybe watching something for at least 3 days is a good idea, but some say to start slow and would start with a small amount. Thanks!

  10. Do you have a contact info I could ask you more questions on? We tried my 6 yr old on a gluten free low dairy diet. We were good w= it for a while, but yogurt has crept in. And also we let him have the school pizza ( gluten and dairy ) once a week. He is SO picky and difficult to feed- how can I send him to school with good lunches he will eat? I think his behavior has worsened since we got him back on gluten and too much dairy.
    I am wondering about two supplements: Interplex seriphos caplsules, and restore for gut health. Have you used either of these? How do you maintain the diet without it being overwhelming?!

    • I am at wholenewmom {at} gmail {dot} com, but sometimes comments are easier for me to keep track of and respond to. I need a better email system ;).

      I used to use seriphos and loved it but found it is going off the market now. I haven’t used Restore.

      It is very overwhelming. I am trying to work w/ Dr. Yasko’s protocol again and we’ll see but so far some progress.

      I think making favorites ahead of time and having them ready to go is key. The school food is not good – laden w/ chemicals and MSG and such that will only predispose him to more junk. Of course we can’t be perfect but I find the “junk” causes a lot of issues.

      Are you looking for things for you to feel better? Or for him?

    • My son is also extremely picky… We were fortunate that he understood that these foods were causing him difficulties and was willing to give them up for a time. He is approaching 20, and he is introducing some of the foods he likes but that have been denied him. We never totally denied some things but tried to monitor how much he was getting. Also… probiotic gummies and digestive enzymes are a mus! My Jake’s menu has never consisted of more than half a dozen items (they have changed a bit over the years). He eats so much of something that he doesn’t want it anymore. He is mainly a meat eater, but will eat raw vegetables. He was in public school sometimes and homeschooled sometimes depending on how he was getting along in life. He had to be pulled out of the public school system for good in the 6th grade. His sensory issues were driving him crazy (and everyone around him), and he became extremely aggressive because he did not like the people who were in charge of him at the school. His lunches in public school consisted of pb&j sandwiches, carrot sticks, raisins, apples and other fruits… He always had to have his food cooked just so until the last couple of years and wouldn’t try anything new unless it was his idea. It still has to be his idea, but he is beginning to experiment (SO there is hope :0) Hamburgers or cheeseburgers (when he was allowed cheese) could ONLY have ketchup on them, and everyone around watch out if they were made wrong lol. Now he eats them with ketchup, pickle relish and sometimes… mustard! We have relied on vitamins and supplements to make sure he is getting the proper nutrition. You really have to pick your battles with these kids… always asking yourself “is this worth fighting over?” We taught Jacob to walk away and go to his room to calm down, and then we talk later if we still need to. It works most of the time… as that is where all of his favorite things are and where he feels safest. Prayers for all who are guiding a special child… We are blessed to have them! It’s heartbreaking to watch them struggle, but so rewarding when you see them succeed!

      • Alison Simpson says:

        Hi Jake’s mum, just read your message and was so moved I had to reply. Your son’s story sounds so similar to mine. My son was diagnosed age 11 – 12, after years of convincing the authorities to assess him. His behaviour was intolerable to others ( who where always chastising him), although to me alot of what he did seemed logical. He also had lots of issues with food and hygiene and OCD. He is now almost 22 and I wouldn’t be without him. 2 years ago I was diagnosed with Asperger’s as well at the age of 46. I had my suspicions for a long time but shelved my own life to bring up my children. What a breakthrough! So many questions answered. I have researched so much since then. Please e-mail me. There is help and hope out there for us. Alison UK

  11. I have a 19 year old with autism. He was diagnosed about age 3. Because we connected the dots and feared the multiple vaccinations (all at the same time…seriously!) had something to do with our son’s regression, we looked into what was in them. We began to give him betonite clay to detox the heavy metals. He was introduced into the educational system immediately after diagnosis and spent the next 3 years (no breaks) undergoing intense therapy in the classroom and in our home. Over the years, we’ve tried many things. Restricted diets helped. Vitamin C with Rose Hips (some call it the love herb :0), has made a huge change, he seems to have way more empathy. He also currently takes a gummy multivitamin, Dissolvable B12, a brain function complex (this also has made a noticable difference). Probiotics help with the Candida problem along with digestive enzymes. Hope this helps someone!

    • Thank you! What things did you think did the most to help?

      • I believe all of the things I mentioned in my original comment worked to a degree. I found that his needs constantly changed, and we were constantly adapting. We tried to focus on the digestive tract issues for several reasons. First, it’s key to your physical health. Second, as we experimented, we found he displayed a lot more anger when eating gluten, casein, anything with artificial colors, refined sugars, MSG, and a few other things (most of which we shouldn’t probably be eating anyway :0)

        After that, the focus was on finding ways to calm him. We believe in herbs and natural supplements. There are many that promote well being. I think that every mom dealing with autism has a unique and special child… I started out with a cup of patience that was overflowing… now I find myself, quite often, praying for patience. My little ray of sunshine (over 6ft tall and wears size 13 shoes) is going to be 20 soon, and though he is far from ready in mom’s eyes, he wants to spread his wings and fly…

        • Thanks for sharing. I hear you on so many levels. Yes – praying for patience. Have you heard of Dr. Yasko? I visited her site when my son was first diagnosed but didn’t think I could handle it and now have come full circle and am working on it again. I am thinking it’s working so far. I’m trying it the “DIY” way.

  12. We have a grandson with HFA and most of us in the family have characteristics of ASD to some degree. We have been guessing, researching, and praying our way through this challenge.. You are the first family I have seen to recommend the “Low and Slow” approach by name. I saw another site that said “we as kids with Asperger’s really appreciated it when our mom gave us time and space to regroup, unconditional acceptance, and as much control as possible.” I like the term “Low and Slow.” The way we see it is that we have come to accept and even value our autistic characteristics. There is a bit of joy and peace that we feel as we understand who we are and how we need to be. This includes choosing to live differently from the Star Trek society around us. Autism is a whole person condition, and we are special for a reason. We need to take care of ourselves, and I think that one reason is that we are highly sensitive to things that are out of order in the world. I like Amos 2:11-13, which tells how God made some people special to do a job for society, but society didn’t allow them to, and their burdens were increased as a result.

    • Thanks for sharing!! I needed this today.

      • Hi im looking for people who I can talk to and have similar exspireneces with adhd and autisum. Ive tried to contact a dr richard saul for feed back. Im from england united kingdom. The authorites wont help me here. They just want to give him medicine. His 10 but academically in year 1. Im on fb tee tee. A friend sent me this link and I seen your message. I think if no one understands what we have to go thru you find it hard to talk and you withdraw your self. Ive been fighting for 7 years and im exhausted.

  13. muhammad iqbal siddiqui says:

    My two year grand son have all visible symptoms of autism

    • I’m sorry – I hope you find some helps here. I am looking at more things to help my son. Happy to help if you’d like by sharing what we are doing.