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Autism and allergies — a link?

Stark Raving Mad Mommy is on the case:


When I started sending e-mails out, I realized that all my autism mommy friends were also my allergy mommy friends.  Now, not all my friends with allergic kids have autistic kids, obviously.  But I think that all my friends with autistic kids have allergy kids. Some may have a handful of allergies, and some have extremely restricted diets.

I emailed Little Dude’s pediatric allergist, and asked him what the f**k was up with that if there was any research on a link between allergies and autism, and if not, could he please get on that. He replied right away, because he’s awesome like that, even though he’s the chair of one of the top pediatric allergy departments in the country.  He said that although they see a lot of autistic kids with allergies, there wasn’t any scientific evidence of a link, or one causing the other.

I did conduct a completely unscientific poll here on the blog, which showed that a full 70 percent of my readers’ kids with autism had food, medicine, or environmental allergies.  Most had a combination of those.

SRMM is excited about a new University of South Florida study linking autism and autoimmune disorders via a protein fragment. This  could help scientists understand autism’s causes better, and develop effective treatments. Our mildly autistic son also has autoimmune disorders. So do I. As I’ve gotten older — in the last five to seven years — my autoimmune disease Raynaud’s syndrome has become significantly worse, and I’ve developed seasonal allergies for the first time. Hmm.

It has also been interesting, and sad, to learn from various folks around town who work in the school system that there are a surprisingly large number of kids in this sparsely populated area who have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The schools have a startlingly large number of Aspies and kids with more severe autism. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. It cannot be the case that this is merely a matter of better diagnosis. I wonder if there are any reliable data correlating a rise in autoimmune disorder diagnoses with a rise in autism diagnoses in recent decades. Anybody know?

Anyway, I’ve noticed that older people around here have no idea what you’re talking about when autism and Asperger’s comes up. People my age and younger generally get it pretty clearly. I’ve heard a couple of people — neither of whom have autistic kids, but who are close to others that tod — say how frustrating it is to try to explain to older people that this is a real thing. Been there.



about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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