Sensory kids Low FODMAP

In the previous blog in this series we learnt about how Ellie’s sensitive gut issues became interwoven with her increasingly evident sensory issues.  The key lessons were:

  • “Fussy” or “picky” eating can be a very early indicators of either food sensitivities, sensory issues or both.
  • Antibiotics can temporarily relieve symptoms by reducing numbers of harmful gut bacteria, but often wipe out the beneficial bacteria as well, so are not a long term solution
  • Probiotics can influence the number and type of gut bacteria in a positive way
  • FODMAPs (polyols in Movicol and prune juice) can significantly and negatively impact on bowel function

In this final post, we will discuss how Julie and Ellie have found the link between Ellie’s sensory issues and sensitive gut, and hopefully provide you with a guide to how to navigate your own path towards managing your child’s gut related sensitivity/sensory issues. Julie continues her recollections from the last year or so…………

“We tracked down our local public health service Autism Assessment Team, who confirmed Ellie’s Autism after a thorough and perceptive assessment process.  (Their predictions of her development have been impressively accurate to date.)

We also asked the GP for a referral to whomever she would recommend for Ellie’s ongoing tummy issues.  The paediatrician we consulted did not seem too concerned until Ellie reported that she “wanted to cut her bottom hole bigger so the poos could come out without hurting”. This prompted  X-rays and stool samples, along with several other referrals, none of which being to a dietitian.

The paediatrician wanted to trial taking Ellie off probiotics for three weeks prior to the next appointment.  Her poos went from every day or two, to all over the place – progressively getting harder and more painful to pass.  This coincided with her finishing a transition to a new room at daycare, where her teachers were surprised at how her anxiety levels rose dramatically and how much more she showed eccentric behaviour. At the next paediatrician appointment, Ellie was prescribed Osmolax for constipation, and we were advised to cease the probiotics and were given a leaflet for toddler diarrhoea! 

Meanwhile I started to research myself about food intolerance reactions, and while the descriptions didn’t fit Ellie exactly, it felt closer than anything else I’d come across. After getting the Autism diagnosis, I found a GP with Autism experience and asked for her recommendation about Ellie’s tummy, maybe a dietitian? The response was along the lines of “most people on the spectrum have gut issues, but identifying them is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. There are better ways to spend time and energy than consulting a dietitian.  If the probiotics work, stick with them.  And people on the spectrum often get relief with a gluten and casein free diet so it’s worth a try.”

All through this time I had two main concerns with the probiotics: what if there was an underlying gastro-intestinal problem that we weren’t addressing, or that the probiotics were masking?  And what would we do if the probiotics stopped working?  We experimented with different strains with mixed results and kept looking for someone to help. One the advice of the owner of Ellie’s preschool we tracked down Dr Kerith Duncanson who has a special interest in gastrointestinal nutrition.”

This brings us back to the start of this four part blog series, where I shared the success of trialling a low FODMAP diet for two to four weeks for children who present with abdominal pain, constipation, bloating or diarrhoea, if thorough investigation of other gastrointestinal conditions has been completed and show no known cause of the symptoms.

You are welcome to catch up on all the details of the first, second and third blog of the series and to contact me via email at kerith@gutfeelings.com.au with any queries about implementing a low FODMAP diet trial for your child (or yourself!).

Thanks again to Julie and Ellie for sharing their personal journey, which we all hope helps others to forge their own path towards understanding and managing the delicate balance between children’s sensory issues and sensitive tummies.

And please promise that you will seek out a dietitian to help implement a low FODMAP diet trial, either by consultations or otherwise using our on-line FODMAP dietary programs.

Blogged by Kerith Duncanson – April 2016

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