Category Archives: Health & Healthcare

Wheat and Gluten: Bad and Getting Worse


I just saw a lovely 15-year-old girl who I have been seeing for a year. From her first evaluation until this past February, she had been doing super, developing great processing and making academic gains.

In February this child had a seizure from out of nowhere. We are presently dealing with what is probably mostly the effects of the medication she is taking to control possible future seizures. From the medications we now have severe loss of working memory and all the functions affected by it, including most of her academic work.

While talking with her mom about what the neurologist had said, she mentioned the MRI showed white spots and that the neurologist mentioned that new research was showing that gluten/wheat can produce these white spots in the brain.

As many of you know, I really like to see our kids avoid dairy and wheat for a wide range of associated problems; but this was the first I had heard about gluten causing white spots in the brain.  To hear more about the neurological effect of gluten/wheat, please read this article as well as the comments:

If you have some confusion between gluten and wheat, you should know that all wheat has gluten. If you are on a gluten free diet you cannot eat wheat. If you are on a gluten free diet, you should also know that other grains in addition to wheat also contain gluten, such as barley and rye. Even oats do if they have been processed in a plant that also processes wheat.

One last note: I work with a child on the autism spectrum who is sensitive to wheat to the degree that literally a crumb of wheat can knock his processing from a 6 to a 1, and he can go from being conversational to non-verbal and need two weeks to recover. The message here is that even a little can create some major issues for some of our children.



Yesterday I saw Amy, a bright and delightful six-year-old girl. While I was speaking to her mom, Amy walked over eating from a bag of Cheetos. I looked at Mom and softly said, “You know those aren’t good for her, right?” (I thought that Amy had been ignoring us, but I was wrong.)

Amy’s mouth drops open and wide-eyed she looks at her mom and says incredulously:

“Soooooo—why do you give these to me?”

Soooooo parents, why do you give such things to your kids?

Our children trust us. They trust us to take care of them and taking care of them includes making good choices and at times, hard choices. One of those choices is providing them with and teaching them about good nutrition. Amy’s assumption was that her mother wouldn’t give her anything harmful. Amy’s mom, a really super mom, certainly represents the majority of parents. Parents that often find it easier to give children what’s easy and convenient, what they like and to be truthful we like making our kids happy—but at what price?

Parenting isn’t easy.

Interview with M. Night Shyamalan

M. Night ShyamalanI’m a morning-news junkie. I get up and turn the news on in my bedroom, then go down to the kitchen to get coffee and turn on a different news channel and then go up to my bathroom to shower and get ready and turn on a third news channel. I feel I need to know what is going on in the world, I don’t need to know who shot whom at what bar last night or how the traffic is doing unless I have to drive to the airport so I skip local news and look for national and international news and stories that actually address important issues. Between a few different sources I hope to get at least an approximation of what is really going on.

This morning an interview caught my attention because it was about education. As it turned out the interview was with M. Night Shyamalan who is a movie guy—writer, producer and director. The interview was a discussion of a book that he has just written entitled, “I Got Schooled: the Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America’s Education Gap.” Since I was getting ready to go to the office I couldn’t give the program my undivided attention but I found it quite interesting.

Regarding Mr. Shyamalan, I don’t know what he goes by—is it “M” like in the James Bond movies or “M. Night” or “Night”—I don’t know because I don’t really follow much of anything relative to movies but, this fellow seemed quite bright and evidently with the help of some other bright people really looked into the subject of American education. Very often outsiders do a much better job of assessing a problem than do the experts who “should” know.

Mr. Shyamalan spoke of an event that helped shape his perception of what needed to be done in order to understand and address the inequality of education in America. This event was a discussion with a physician who taught at the medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. The doctor related how he would enlighten the incoming medical students regarding health. He evidently told his students that the real key to health involved only five pieces:

#1 Get 8 hours of sleep

#2 Have a healthy diet

#3 Exercise 3 times per week

#4 Pay attention to your mental/brain health

#5 Don’t smoke

These pieces make individual and collective sense but the big point was that you have to do all five—doing only four out of five did not produce a particularly good outcome.

This “aha moment” helped Mr. Shyamalan evaluate the educational data differently and formulate a set of criteria that would produce the needed outcome in total.

This “aha moment” for Mr. Shyamalan was also an “aha moment” for me this morning. Certainly one of the most frustrating aspects of my work is getting folks to address all of the pieces—not to miss or add pieces but to address the totality of their program. I have known that a huge part of our success with children has been our understanding of and our commitment to working with the whole child and addressing the gestalt of that child. Frustration comes when families do some of their program along with “some of this and some of that.” This revelation really reinforced to me the need to do all of the pieces. I’m sure as I continue to give this more thought I will gain even more insights.

I apologize if everything I related about the interview is not totally accurate. I was, after all, trying to get ready to run to the office for my first Skype meeting but I think I’m being reasonably accurate. I will order Mr. Shyamalan’s book and let you know what I think.

NACD parents—please write down the five keys to health and do your best to follow all of them. I think this is right on. Take care of yourselves.