Gluten_free_foodBy Craig Willoughby

Every parent needs a break every once in a while, and this is almost doubly so for parents of autistic children. So, for Father’s Day, a friend of ours decided to help my wife and I out and watch my 6 year old autistic son, my 8 year old Aspergers daughter, and my totally rambunctious, absolutely normal 5 year old daughter. We gave her instructions on what to feed the girls and pointers on how to get my son to eat his GFCF food (he’s only been on the diet 3 weeks, and he still isn’t happy about it), and with great relish mixed in with a little bit of trepidation, my wife and I went out for a date.

The date was nice, more so for the fact that we got to eat at a decent restaurant without trying to catch the food my son likes to throw or without listening to his screams when the noise overwhelms him and he has a meltdown. After dinner, we went to a bookstore and had a pleasant hour or so of browsing without chasing down my son to pull a book he was about to tear up away from him. Of course, this was interspersed with my wife or me calling home to check on the little ones. Everything was fine, of course, but our wonderful friend said that my son was a bit anxious, looking out the window and wondering where we were at.

Too soon, the evening ended, and my wife and I headed home. Our arrival was met by our 2 daughters rushing out the front door to give us hugs, and then one of the most remarkable things that has happened to me in my 35 years.

My son spoke to me.

As we stepped into the house, he looked up and gave me one of his angelic smiles and said one word that melted me.

He said, “Daddy!” (well, it came out as “Da-eee,” but we all knew what he meant). His first word in five years was an excited greeting to his father! Quite simply, this was the best Father’s Day gift a dad could possibly get.

I did the only thing I could. I grabbed my son and gave him the biggest hug and began bawling like a little girl. Yes, a big, tough, 6 foot 4 inch man breaking down into tears. I wasn’t the only one either. My friend was sitting on the couch with a great big smile on her face while tears rolled down her cheeks. My wife was standing at the door, her hands covering her mouth as she cried tears of joy.

Parents who have experienced this know what I’m talking about. The only way I can describe it is that it is like watching the birth of your child and hearing that first little cry. In a way, it is like they are being reborn; it is joyful and humbling and beautiful.

To those people that think that the GFCF diet is a sham, I present this question; why is it that for five years, my son never once said a word until shortly after we started him on his diet? To the parents that are struggling to bring their babies out of this terrible vaccine-induced fog; please keep trying! It may not be quick or easy, and you won’t get results over night, but your child deserves the chance to speak. You deserve the chance to hear your child speak after so many years of being silent. I give you my hope that a single word can start the way to recovery.

Craig Willoughby is a mild-mannered computer programmer by day, and by night uses his razor wit and sarcasm to fight the forces of evil (i.e. Big pHARMa and idiotic bloggers).



Happy Daddy's Day! I look forward to reading about more breakthroughs for your son, please keep us posted!


I am very HAPPY for YOU!!!

I am also very very very proud of you for being a father that is there for your children. No matter what, you are there and you will continue to be there through it all. I also have a child with Autism and as a Father I will do whatever I have to do until the day I die. Happy Father's Craig! May your son be blessed with thousands of words to come.


Congrats! I love days like that one. Just yesterday, my son said to me as I was leaving for my second job - "See ya later". I just cried and gave him a big hug too. Poor guy, he has all kinds of food allergies. 4 wks ago we got the results back from the IgG test and he was also allergic to rice, corn, sunflower oil, garlic,... What a blow to my wife and I. As if the GFCF isn't enough, we now have to go back to the drawing board and go on a rotation diet for the foods he can still have. But keep up the good work!


Craig and wife many this be one of many treasures as your son heals.
The feeling never dulls as they work up to full sentences.
My son blurted out "Mom!I can talk to you now!"
I felt like a had been handed a million dollars.
Go ahead, bawl like a little girl, everyone who has had this type of moment does.
Maybe one day all our kids can collectively face the people who robbed them of their childhood... and give them some lip!

I got goosebumps

Here's what's so miraculous about this - 2 dads on AoA have their sons' speak to them for the first time (after a long time) on Father's Day!

Fil Navarra

That's great Craig.....Beleive it or not I too have tears in my eyes...
Once your son reaches the point when he seems to have reached a plateau....keep at it and get him the methynB12 shot as explained by Dr, Neubrander. The diet was great for us too, but the mB12 went to the next step. If your son is like my grandson....he'll be OK.

Fil Navarra

That's great Craig.....Beleive it or not I too have tears in my eyes...
Once your son reaches the point when he seems to have reached a plateau....keep at it and get him the methynB12 shot as explained by Dr, Neubrander. The diet was great for us too, but the mB12 went to the next step. If your son is like my grandson....he'll be OK.


My boy went from 2 word phases to 5-6 word sentences on the diet after 2 days.
he cutest thing "when I grow up I want to be bigger like you". makes be blub every time he says it.
good work Crag and Tanners Dad

Josh Day

Craig, that's wonderful. I am so happy for you and your son.

I'll never understand the hostility so-called experts have against the GFCF diet. It's helped so many children. Sadly the majority of doctors are idiots who don't even care or chalk up benefits to a "coincidence."

Cindy Keenan

Fabulous, Craig! I'm thrilled to read about your son's progress. On a personal note, your post was just what I needed this morning. My daughter, who's made tremendous gains on biomed, had a tough time at a family party last night. I was feeling sad about her setback, but reading the story of your son's breakthrough reminded me that we just need to keep moving forward, to not let the snags get us down, and to rejoice any time we hear our children's true voices. Thanks for sharing and keeping the hope alive!

Kelli Ann Davis


Your bio is classic! Busted out laughing on that one!

I tell ya, you and Tanner's Dad never cease to get the tears rolling whenever you talk about your sons' amazing progress and reemergence of first words.

For the record (and this is for all the guys out there) *bawling like a little girl* is perfectly acceptable -- especially when hearing your son speak again for the first time in years!

Crying and holding a a woman's purse are *not* to be dreaded -- you need to embrace it, be free! lol


Craig said
"His fits are still there..."

That's the genetic component. They get that from the mothers you know. ;)

Cathy Jameson


That is totally awesome! I know the feeling and am so excited for you and your family. Keep on plugging away at the diet and biomed.



My son surprised me by doing something we weren't sure he was capable of doing.

He navigated to google, typed in his key search word and found the video on youtube he likes me to play for him.


I am so happy for you, Craig (and family). Once the language starts, it does progress. It was a slow process for my twins, and first involved echolaic repetition, and I wondered when that would end. But it did end, and spontaneous language replaced it gradually, and later, fully. It is so wonderful that he has made this enormous stride (one that so many parents of the typical take for granted). The most immediate change in my twins after starting the diet was their sudden attention to bedtime stories. Before the diet, they would wildly jump off the bed and climb back on it, not paying any attention that I could determine, to what was being read to them. About a week after we began the diet, my kids sat on the bed with me with their four blue eyes directed at the book I was reading and with me wondering if this was really happening, or if I was imagining it. The increase in attention span and interest was shocking. Best wishes to you, Craig et al, and just know this is the beginning of some very major and wonderful things to come for your son.

Craig Willoughby

It's so neat! His fits are still there, but not nearly in the quantity that he was having. He has started saying words on an average of about 1 a day. The day after his big "Daddy!" he was lying on our couch and all of a sudden said "Tickle!" Then he giggled and said it again, so I gave him his tickles. If he asks for anything, we drop what we're doing and immediately get it for him. All this week, he has been communicating so well, saying "out", "Tickle Momma" (my wife loved that one), "Yeah" and "Courtney" (my oldest daughter's name, whom he adores like no other). My favorite one, and I was so proud, was when he stepped out of the tub, shivering as he waited for his mom to bring a towel, muttering "shit" over and over again.

Hey, it was appropriate, and my wife didn't even bother telling him that it was a mommy and daddy word. We take what little victories we can :)


What an awesome story Craig! Thank you for sharing with us!

My son was nonverbal from around 14 months (after starting to talk at 10-11 months) until FOUR years old. I pulled the gluten first, some words came back. I then pulled the casein, more words. I then started the MB12, explosion of words. With the help of our DAN! doc and many biomedical interventions, my son just graduated from kindergarten, and heads to 1st grade in the fall.

As Jenny McCarthy said, "My son is my science."

Nicole Raimann

Wooooohooo!!! Good for your him!! It's a precious gift to take NOTHING a child does, no matter how small to some, for granted.


From "across the pond":- Maybe four/five years ago there was an ALSPAC (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents And Children) study published in the British Medical Journal, lead author P. Bingley, title "Undiagnosed Coeliac Disease in a Cohort of seven (or nine?) year olds". Roughly speaking, of 5,400 or so children about 54 tested positive for IgA antibodies for subclinical coeliac disease. Only 4 children were on a gluten-free diet (why was that, I wonder?). So, in the general population about 1:100 should be on a GF diet. I'm curious to know how many autistic children in the USA and UK are ever tested for gluten sensitivity and what percentage of autistic children test positive for IgA antibodies.

N.B. My heartiest congratulations to Craig and Tanner's Dad and their families. I still remember my daughter's first question at 8 years, "Why are we going this way, Mummy?" (that was five years after she started to regain the speech she lost at fifteen months).

Teresa Conrick


This brought tears to my eyes.
So very happy for you all! That is the best gift and I hope it keeps coming!




Wonderful! I am so happy for you and your son.

My two cents about the GFCF diet: Get your child on it EARLY! We were so lucky to come across the Generation Rescue site immediately after diagnosis and 11 days post diagnosis we had her at the DAN's office. The following day the diet started.

(For an amusing anecdote: After the doctor visit, we dropped my daughter off at home and my husband and I went on the search for GFCF goods at the local Whole Foods. We bought rice Bread and rice "cream" cheese, among other things. We had decided that the whole family would go on the diet to make the transition easier. The following morning we made our twins rice toast and with "cream" cheese. My kids looked at it --- they were 2y 4m at the time - and thought "yum". My typical son took a bite, made a face, and then promptly threw up all over the kitchen floor.)

Almost three years later, my daughter has learned what she can tolerate in terms of food and what she cannot. She cannot tolerate citrus. I offered her a piece of an orange recently as she can handle so much more now, and she said, "No, it will probably make me sick."

The GFCF diet is a diet of healing. She has gotten much better. We now go our for regular pizza with the help of digestive enzymes. She can sneak in an occasional glutenous cookie without an enzyme. She knows that she needs her "pizza medicine" to indulge. And her gluten antibodies went from an 84 to a 28....the cutoff for an alergy is 20. She is healing.

John Gilmore

Amen, brother!


Craig and Tanner's Dad:

I am siting here crying my eyes out. I am so so so incredibly happy for you (and your boys too of course!! Imagine how GOOD they must feel). Keep up the good work!!!!

Kim, I so hear you. When my Salamander was first diagnosed, I met a mom of a boy who was, maybe 2 years older. So this little guy must have been maybe 8? He was on ten, I repeat TEN, different meds. As med no 1 created a side effect, she was told to add med no 2 to mitigate that side effect. Then 1 + 2 combined created two new side effects that required med 3 and 4. And so on.

When I asked her, nicely you mind (my thoughts weren't so nice) WHY, WHY, WHY would you do that to a not even 8 year old, her answers were: "The doctor tells me to, and -I- need MY life." Problem was she STILL had no life as from what I could tell, the kiddo hadn't really improved on all those meds.

I am not against meds. I may have to resort to them at some point as we're entering puberty. But it'll be my very last resort.. there's plenty other stuff I can still try.
(I have lost touch with that mom.. I shudder when thinking about how many meds this poor guy me be on now.. I pray mom smartened up..).

And as to one of my best gifts? Salamander not only *tolerating* Potatey sitting on the same couch as he was (there is a reason we have more than one couch), but in fact reaching out, giving him the hugest biggest squeeze hug, and just sitting there for a good 2 or 3 minutes with his arms wrapped around Potatey saying" I love you little brother." (let me just say that prior to THAT Salamander wrapping his arms around his brother was never the start of a *good* thing).


My best gift (hmmm, my kids have given me so many!) is probably that my Mia is seizure free going on 4 years. I did that for her with the help of DAN! docs and other holistic practitioners. I take the credit. The docs wanted to drug her. I tried the drugs. The seizures kept coming and she lost what little speech and coordination she had. The top doc in Cleveland told me, "She has autism. She's wired differently." I muttered "F YOU" under my breath and never went back.

We CAN control much of what is happening to our kids. We have to try a zillion things, even the weird ones, we have to be ready for docs and bloggers (as if we care) to ostracize us, we have to push aside our fears of leaving the mainstream and forging our own path for our kids.

I met a family yesterday - 7 year old who "might" have autism. Mom doesn't want the label. But he's already on Risperdal. SEVEN YEARS OLD. There's more for our kids than a straight shot to drugs. There is. Try everything. The drugs are there if you hit a wall and need them. I'm not anti-drug across the board. I am against using them as a first line of defense.


Tanner's Dad

And it keeps getting better...

In the last 30 days (Tanner is on a GFCF (mainly GF), bacoba, and MB12)...

I got a "Hi Daddy" for Father's Day

A big "Daddy" after a hard days work that was with a witness.

Also he said "Hi" with perfect timing to the sitter.

Small steps for Tanner. Big scientific factual steps that Autism can be treated.

Bring on the CDC, AAP, Julie, Offnut, and others!


I'm very happy for you!

My hubby is working on his master's degree in systems engineering. He has decided to take on the US Healthcare system and design an "agile system" that reduces costs and relies solely on evidence-based medicine. One of the first things I told him was that in order to change the system he should start from the ground up. It's the insurance companies that are running our healthcare system.

While it boils down to there's no money to be made by studying the GFCF diet (hence big pharma is not interested), the insurance companies need to pony up the research which could save them kazillions of dollars because most children with autism apparently respond very well to the diet (disclaimer - I'm only going by what I read online). Dietary changes essentially cost zero dollars to the insurance companies (another burden on parents). But if they help then costs would be reduced in the long run.

I'll go back to lurking now :) I really look forward to more updates on your son's progress.

fellow parent

Congratulations, Craig. I hope my turn will be soon.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)