New Year’s Resolution diet – a book review

Dietary Interventions in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Why They Work When They Do, Why They Don’t When They Don’t.

By Kenneth J. Aitken

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Available from JKP and Amazon.

There is a great deal to praise about this book: the format, the style where science is both readable and comprehensible, the facts, the theories and claims, and a hefty dose of reality.

The author makes it clear from the beginning that his book not a weight loss book nor does it tackle the behavioral issues in food avoidance.  The fact that he guides the reader to Ernsperger and Stegen-Hanson [Just Take a Bite] assures me that knows what he’s talking about.

What I found most alarming was the startling information about how very few studies there have been about dietary interventions and even more shockingly, how small the sample populations were – just 237 candidates for the CF-GF diet – and how many people do you know who have adopted this diet?  Furthermore and more worryingly, the candidates are self reporting their results, or rather to be more accurate, their parents are reporting the results.

At the beginning of 2011 many people will be considering dietary interventions for their autistic children, in which case, this book is a must read.

It has been my opinion for quite some while that since so many of our children have appalling diets that just about any addition to their limited quota must have a beneficial effect.  I used to envy other parents embarking upon some new miracle diet with their children while we pushed a Goldfish cracker around the plate and washed it down with his second food, milk, with the hope that at some time during the next 24 hours we’d manage to persuade him to eat dessert, maybe a single raisin, his third ‘food.’  But of course that was a long time ago.

I would love to claim sole credit for my desensitization and multiple exposure plan of intervention, but unfortunately there are many other reasons for his improvement: therapists, teachers, aides, life, growth and the passage of time.

You can also read a very insightful interview with the author at JKP blog where I’ll share one of his best quotes:-

“Personally I don’t believe we should be waiting on the Holy Grail of a wonder treatment for everyone with ASD, however appealing this may seem to some. Some people with ASD symptomology neither need treatment nor want it.”


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All Dogs have ADHD by Kathy Hoopmann

From “Jessica Kingsley Publishers”

Eye candy with a message:-

Whether you are fan of Anne Geddes or not, Ms. Hoopmann's book achieves a similar result. Babies are beautiful and between “3 and 5 percent” of them are likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.

Interestingly, Ms. Hoopman provides a brief introduction to her second volume following “all cats have asperger syndrome,” where she describes some common elements of the ADHA spectrum. What follows is a delightful romp, high lighting those factors in a whimsical manner through the device of a dog's perspective. This book provides an excellent spring board to facilitate open discussion and intimacy about a difficult subject, for both parents and children alike, without threat.

Criticisms:-

1. It's too expensive.

True but that's because it's a hardback. The 72 pages work out to the equivalent to 3 days of your routine Café Lattes but the effects last a lot longer and won't give you a buzz. You can always wait for the soft back or support your local library.

2. How will it help with autism?

It won't, it's about ADHD, remember! Please try harder to keep all pertinent facts available in your working memory simultaneously. However, an ADHD diagnosis is often co-morbid with autism. Think of it as a selection box of chocolates. You can pick and choose your favourites, and leave the hard candy for someone else.

3. The photographs fail to meet expectations.

Well now I'm just being picky. I'm no photographer, so I shall restrain myself. I had no specific expectations so that appear to be perfectly fit for their purpose.

4. The captions and text are too generalized. They could apply to anyone and everyone.

True. I think it is essential to avoid any possibility of common ground, level playing fields and empathy. More importantly, I'm getting ahead of myself. Never flip pages or speed read. Always pay close attention to the introduction first, where Ms. Hoopmann specifically draws our attention to the spectrum nature of the disorder. Now lets try and keep focused.

5. Curiously, I do have a genuine criticism.

There are many different breeds of dog illustrated in the book. They are not labeled. My knowledge of dog breeds is basic. As a result, I have been plagued with questions about breeds and species. Strangely, there were no similar questions about cat breeds in “All Cats have Asperger's,” but that is probably merely an indication of my children's increasing willingness to speak. Maybe the next printing will address this omission, so that we can concentrate on the message and content rather than categories. Rest assured that only the tiniest of fonts and the briefest of descriptions would be needed, just like the codes on the papers of all test sheets for evaluations.

My second criticism would be by way of apology to all dog owners in advance. Very shortly my children will be accosting people and there dogs with the following question:- “is it a mut?” This is entirely my fault. One quick slip of the tongue and now we are stuck in the myre. I promise to put, 'research dog breeds,' on my 'to do' list.

Clearly it would be wrong to speculate about the author's motivations. Perhaps she wants to ease the path for those newly diagnosed, their families and personal circle? Maybe, she would like to make the topic ADHA more socially acceptable for a broader audience? Possibly, other spectra may also benefit, incidentally. I can think of a great many other diagnoses in DSM IV that might also warrant a boost in the national psyche. I am of the genuine opinion, without a shred of supporting evidence, that Ms. Hoopman is out to change the world by stealth and humour. If so, she can bark up my tree any time.

Who knows what animal shall be next, but I wish Ms. Loopman luck in finding another good match.

I suspect that “all dogs have ADHD” failed to hold my attention as much as it's
“predecessor.” This might be because I am subject to a cat bias, but there again, it may also be because 72 pages can be quite a challenge for some,………….. now I've gotta dash as I'm sure there's something[s] I need to do, although I'm not sure which one, or two, or three……. and I'm positive I was in the middle of something,……. although I can't remember what it was,…….. but I won't be a “dog” in the “manger.”

For future reference, please note that I shall not post negative opinions of any book. This is why my reviews are so few and far between.

Could also be that 72 pages is about my limited limit.

Cheers dears

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