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Children's Academic Or Cognitive Performance
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Hi,

I am a teacher, a graduate student in School Psychology, and mother to a child with Celiac. I am doing research on the impact of untreated Celiac on children's academic and cognitive performance. I know there are plenty of brief references out there that Celiac causes academic/cognitive issues, but I have not found anything with much on specifics. If anyone knows of any studies, please share them.

I would also welcome your thoughts on how your child's school performance changed after being diagnosed and subsequently going on a gluten free diet. Did you see any improvement? How long did it take before the improvement was noticeable? Was your child in special education prior to diagnosis? Does your child still need special education services after going gluten free?

Thanks to any and all who can respond.

Manya

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I'm not in school anymore but I can tell you I had trouble concentrating. I would listen to everything the teacher said and as soon as she gave me an assignment it's like I had been listening to her on mute. I remember in the second grade a teacher was explaining how to do a math problem and called me up to the board. I had no idea how to do it. People tell me I'm smart and I know I have a lot of potential but all of this makes it incredibly difficult to focus and concentrate. I've been out of school for a while but I would like to go back soon. I just hope I can get to the point to where I can. Everyone is different in how they respond and recover from all of this.

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my 13 year old son was diagnosed with celiac almost a year ago. He has an Pervasive Developmental Disorder and mild ADHD diagnosis. Anxiety was also an issue for him but not so severe that it impacted his learning. We noticed a huge decrease in his picking at his finger/finger nails, improved sitting properly in a chair (he used to sit with his knees up to his chin-possibly it was more comfortable for his stomach). I don't feel socially he has changed but his attention seems better and he just feels better, making learning easier.

:)

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Thank you to those who responded. I am amazed by the tremendously positive impact being gluten free can have on the mental health of a person with celiac. I have heard about the trouble concentrating - and the possibly ADD type of challenges. I can only imagine what a struggle it is for those who are suffering.

I would love to hear from more people!

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A friend with a son who has Aspergers went gluten-free and she saw huge leaps and bounds with his social and verbal abilities. The Autictic community has a huge following of gluten-free and CF people with great success stories. I imagine there have to be some studies in that area that might be easy to find.

My son is suspected Aspergers (mild) and I have yet to put him gluten-free yet (I'm getting myself there first) but I'm excited to see if it will help him.

Good luck!

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Retention and concentration was the biggest difference for both my children (1 celiac and 1 gluten intolerant).

My son especially struggled with reading (he is the non-celiac). You could see him enthusiastically learn letters and sounds, and then the next day, he not only couldn't remember what he'd just learned, he couldn't seem to even figure out the concept any more. It was like he had to relearn everything from scratch, over and over again. It never stayed in his head. He viewed himself as stupid because he couldn't remember what he'd learned, no matter how many times he relearned it. His frustration tolerance would drop at these times, too, so not only couldn't he learn, he was MORE upset about the road-blocks than when he was having one of his 'good' days.

I really struggled with helping him, because it wasn't that he couldn't learn or understand these at all; you could SEE him learn these things. He'd pick them up so easily it was wonderful. But then it was almost like you could see it drain away, see him struggle terribly as though it was a foreign language he'd never heard in his life. And a few days later, he might luck out and suddenly have a 'good' day and be able to learn quickly and rapidly again, only to implode within days again.

It didn't seem like a learning disability, because it wasn't consistent. He did learn some days, and some days he couldn't understand the exact same topic. What he learned, he couldn't recall. Same thing went for dyslexia. You could just tell that some days he was fine and some days, something was wrong.

He was 7 and he was STILL forgetting letter names and sounds like this. :( And then we went gluten free and suddenly, he doesn't forget any longer. What he learns, he retains the next day, and the next, and he finally makes stable and rapid progress.

On the days that he gets glutened, he will start having trouble learning again, and he has trouble remembering what he's learned. His reading plummets. Within a day or two, though, he's back to previous levels, so it seems to be a temporary issue now that he is consistently gluten free.

I notice in myself, now, that I have trouble with comprehension and learning new tasks when I am glutened, as well. I much more readily understand what he must have been going through all this time. :-(

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Thank you so much for sharing! To me there is little doubt that we need more research on the topic of gluten impact on learning. The informal observations shared here add credence to my belief.

I hope more people will share!

Manya

Retention and concentration was the biggest difference for both my children (1 celiac and 1 gluten intolerant).

My son especially struggled with reading (he is the non-celiac). You could see him enthusiastically learn letters and sounds, and then the next day, he not only couldn't remember what he'd just learned, he couldn't seem to even figure out the concept any more. It was like he had to relearn everything from scratch, over and over again. It never stayed in his head. He viewed himself as stupid because he couldn't remember what he'd learned, no matter how many times he relearned it. His frustration tolerance would drop at these times, too, so not only couldn't he learn, he was MORE upset about the road-blocks than when he was having one of his 'good' days.

I really struggled with helping him, because it wasn't that he couldn't learn or understand these at all; you could SEE him learn these things. He'd pick them up so easily it was wonderful. But then it was almost like you could see it drain away, see him struggle terribly as though it was a foreign language he'd never heard in his life. And a few days later, he might luck out and suddenly have a 'good' day and be able to learn quickly and rapidly again, only to implode within days again.

It didn't seem like a learning disability, because it wasn't consistent. He did learn some days, and some days he couldn't understand the exact same topic. What he learned, he couldn't recall. Same thing went for dyslexia. You could just tell that some days he was fine and some days, something was wrong.

He was 7 and he was STILL forgetting letter names and sounds like this. :( And then we went gluten free and suddenly, he doesn't forget any longer. What he learns, he retains the next day, and the next, and he finally makes stable and rapid progress.

On the days that he gets glutened, he will start having trouble learning again, and he has trouble remembering what he's learned. His reading plummets. Within a day or two, though, he's back to previous levels, so it seems to be a temporary issue now that he is consistently gluten free.

I notice in myself, now, that I have trouble with comprehension and learning new tasks when I am glutened, as well. I much more readily understand what he must have been going through all this time. :-(

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This isn't about learning per se, but there's a number of studies that crop up in google scholar with celiac disease and schizophrenia. I'd call schizophrenia a cognitive problem.

PErsonally, I got badly depressed before I started university and remained that way throughout my schooling. Looking back I figure I probably developed celiac disease a bit before that happened, but I'll never truly know. I consider myself intelligent, and I know that in grade school I was lucky because everything came very easily and naturally to me. But university was not the same at all. It was a real struggle. I couldn't concentrate on my work. If I were studying or reading, I spent probably 90% of that time with my mind wandering. Hands on things, like a chem lab or math problems, were a bit easier to focus on doing, although learning new math became horribly hard. By 3rd and 4th year classes (years 3-6 of my degree), I was down to part-time and I missed many classes so that I could stay home in bed instead.

I wanted to go to grad school because despite it all, I did choose a field of study I still think is fascinating, but being depressed and being tired all the time made that an impossibility. For me, doing any type of mental work, scholarly or otherwise, is very demanding and tiring.

My biggest thing for me right now is being tired. I don't have the energy that society demands of me in order to work. It hasn't gotten better since going gluten-free, (haven't been this way for long yet though), if anything I'm more tired because I can't be lazy in preparing food.

I feel that if I hadn't developed celiac disease that I would have a phd in cognitive psychology myself right now.

There's certainly some literature out there about autism and celiac disease, and autism is a cognitive issue too.

For your own work if you're trying to find some base research, since you say it's hard to find learning and celiac studies, you will likely have more luck searching for related disorders to celiac disease and learning. Like, as in my own life, chronic fatigue and depression and how it relates to learning and and then find studies of celiacs who have chronic fatigue and depression, and make the connection that way.

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Thank you for your input, those are some great ideas. I have been looking into chronic illnesses and other autoimmune disorders. I did find quite a bit on Celiac and Autism and I think that is an excellent idea to research it further. My ultimate goal would be to do a study on any differences in cognitive abilities pre diagnosis and after a period of being gluten free. Hopefully, there will be support for ongoing research of the many issues that appear to be related to gluten and Celiac.

I wish you the best! Thank you for responding!

This isn't about learning per se, but there's a number of studies that crop up in google scholar with celiac disease and schizophrenia. I'd call schizophrenia a cognitive problem.

PErsonally, I got badly depressed before I started university and remained that way throughout my schooling. Looking back I figure I probably developed celiac disease a bit before that happened, but I'll never truly know. I consider myself intelligent, and I know that in grade school I was lucky because everything came very easily and naturally to me. But university was not the same at all. It was a real struggle. I couldn't concentrate on my work. If I were studying or reading, I spent probably 90% of that time with my mind wandering. Hands on things, like a chem lab or math problems, were a bit easier to focus on doing, although learning new math became horribly hard. By 3rd and 4th year classes (years 3-6 of my degree), I was down to part-time and I missed many classes so that I could stay home in bed instead.

I wanted to go to grad school because despite it all, I did choose a field of study I still think is fascinating, but being depressed and being tired all the time made that an impossibility. For me, doing any type of mental work, scholarly or otherwise, is very demanding and tiring.

My biggest thing for me right now is being tired. I don't have the energy that society demands of me in order to work. It hasn't gotten better since going gluten-free, (haven't been this way for long yet though), if anything I'm more tired because I can't be lazy in preparing food.

I feel that if I hadn't developed celiac disease that I would have a phd in cognitive psychology myself right now.

There's certainly some literature out there about autism and celiac disease, and autism is a cognitive issue too.

For your own work if you're trying to find some base research, since you say it's hard to find learning and celiac studies, you will likely have more luck searching for related disorders to celiac disease and learning. Like, as in my own life, chronic fatigue and depression and how it relates to learning and and then find studies of celiacs who have chronic fatigue and depression, and make the connection that way.

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I'm looking into celiac for myself, but I also am wondering if my son might have it too. We have been having attention, anxiety and other behavior issues with him. He is in Montessori school actually, which makes his attention issues that much more puzzling, because he has so much control over what he does, it isn't like he's being asked to listen to the teacher repeat something he already knows, etc. Once I get a hold on whether or not gluten is my issue, if it is, I'm definitely going to work on finding out if he might have it as well. I'll let you know how it goes. :)

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Don't forget the vitamin deficiancies that come along with all of this and their effect on the mind also.

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