What is Defeat Autism Now (DAN!)?

Defeat Autism Now (DAN!) is a project that was founded in the 1960s by Dr. Bernard Rimland. Doctors trained in the “DAN! Protocol,” are taught an approach to autism which begins with the idea that autism is a biomedical disorder. This approach was developed by the Autism Research Institute (ARI) which has more than 1,000 documented cases of autistic children who have recovered.

The belief among DAN! doctors is that autism is a disorder caused by a lowered immune response, issues caused by some foods, and external toxins from vaccines and other sources.

What Type of Treatments do DAN! Doctors Prescribe?

  • Supplements such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and essential fatty acids.
  • Gluten- and dairy-free diets.
  • Food allergy testing.
  • Treating dysbiosis in the gut using non-pharmacological medications (i.e. intestinal bacterial/yeast overgrowth).
  • Heavy metal detoxification.

What can I expect at my DAN! Doctor Appointment?

You can expect that your child will go through some testing mostly revolving around the state of their internal body. A test for hidden food allergies will be conducted to be sure that any dietary changes that are made as part of your child’s treatment plan are beneficial and not more damaging to them.

You should leave with your questions answered and a customized treatment plan for your child’s needs. If you have questions, ask, ask, ask. Remember, these doctors chose to be DAN! doctors. They believe in this treatment method, and want to see your child healthy!

The Link Between Autism and Food Allergies

gluten-freeThough it’s not completely proven, there have been studies that show a strong connection between food allergies and autism symptoms. One of the most frequently heard connections is that between Gluten (wheat) and Casein (milk) products. These food proteins are broken down into smaller proteins, also known as peptides. The two peptides, glutenin and gliadin, and leak into the gut and attach to the opitate receptors of the autistic child’s brain. This is very similar to the body being on a morphine drip. The peptides act as a Narcotic to the autistic body.

One of the primary steps in the Defeat Autism Now! (DAN) Protocol is that the autistic child be placed on a Gluten Free, Casein Free diet for at least three months. Many parents have been reporting a link between Autism and diet for years, but it’s now being found that children who consume gluten and casein regularly have more severe autism symptoms. Some of the research reports that claim to “disprove” this theory, also depend a lot on the idea that this is an allergic reaction that is being claimed to exist. Quite the contrary. In fact, it’s not due to an allergic reaction that the symptoms worsen. It’s because the autistic body cannot break down the proteins properly from gluten and casein.  It’s not necessarily an allergy so much as an intolerance.

When parents make the move to take their children off of Gluten and Casein completely, they’re often worried. One of the main concerns is that their children love gluten and casein products. Many parents have a difficult time getting their children to not eat gluten and casein, as if they’re addicted to it. This is more than just an analogy. It could be completely true. Remember, when gluten and casein break down, they leak into the gut and attach themselves to the opiate receptors of the brain. The same receptors that morphine, codeine and heroin attach themselves to. Your child could literally be addicted to gluten and casein.

Researchers are firm in their statements that “autism is not caused by an allergy.” When some parents read about the effects of gluten and casein, they assume their child is allergic to the foods and that’s the cause of Autism. They take their children off of the foods and expect a cure. Again, as far as we know, autism is not caused by an allergy. However, children with Autism Spectrum Disorders are very sensitive – especially in their immune system in how it reacts to the environment.

One of the primary focuses of the Autism Alternative Medicine field is exploring ways in which we can treat our children’s autism symptoms and getting to the source of the problem. While there have been some reports that go against the connection between food allergies and Autism, there are still researchers who very much believe that there is a valid connection and they’re exploring this intensely.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)

Last week, I talked about the GFCF Diet which involves removing gluten and casein from your child’s diet. This diet allows the gut to heal, prevents the body having an autoimmune reaction and has been shown to reduce many of the symptoms of ASD.

CandiesThe SCD, or Specific Carbohydrate Diet, is a step on from the GFCF Diet and was made popular by  the book “Breaking the Vicious Cycle” by Elaine Gottschall.

Gottschall created the SCD after her daughter’s ulcerative colitis and neurological problems were dramatically improved by a change in diet. Elaine was able to make the “gut brain link” and realized that what her daughter ate affected her gut which, in turn, affected her brain. The SCD was born and has gone on to help sufferers of IBS, Crohn’s Disease, celiac, cystic fibrosis, diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis and autism spectrum disorders.

The Diet Explained

Full information can be found in Elaine’s book, “Breaking the Vicious Cycle”, on the website www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info and also on www.pecanbread.com but I will give you a brief overview of the diet here.

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A Healthy Diet

Dietary changes and special diets, like the GFCF Diet, are a valuable part of a program of biomedical treatments for autistic children.

Many autistic children have gastrointestinal (GI) disorders which mean that they have problems digesting food properly, or are “allergic” to certain foods. “Elimination” type diets can work wonders at improving GI problems and other autism symptoms. Examples of elimination diets are the GFCF Diet and the SCD, which both remove gluten and casein from a child’s diet.

However, there are simple dietary changes which can be made before following a strict diet program. Little changes that can have a big impact on your child’s health and behavior.

Think about your child’s diet. Is your child eating a healthy, well-balanced diet which is rich in essential nutrients? Be honest.

The Modern Diet

Many children in these modern times are well fed, but actually malnourished. They are eating plenty of food, but much of it is junk food. This type of food is bad for their bodies, has empty calories and has no nutritional value at all.


Even if you are avoiding giving your child the obvious junk food, you may not realize what artificial colors, preservatives, flavors and fillers are in the everyday foods that they are consuming.

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A Menu of Biomedical Treatments

What are Biomedical Treatments?

If you are a parent or carer of a child with an autism spectrum disorder, you are bound to have heard of biomedical treatments for autism, but what are they?


Unlike traditional psychotropic drug therapies, biomedical treatments work by addressing what is triggering or causing the autism in the child, rather than just treating or masking symptoms.

Biomedical approaches are working wonders all over the world and are helping children that some doctors had given up on, and working what many parents would call “miracles”. What could be more miraculous than having eye contact with your child for the first time in years or hearing them say their first word?

A Menu of Biomedical Approaches

In an interview, Jenny McCarthy, autism crusader, writer and mother to Evan, spoke about there being a menu of biomedical treatments to choose from and that you need to work through this menu until you find what works for your child. Every child is unique and has different needs, and the right treatment for your child will often depend on what is actually causing your child’s autism.

Here are some examples of biomedical approaches which are being successfully used to treat autism :-

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