By Dianne Craft, MA, CNHP

“Our daughter is so different now.”       
At a recent consultation for their 12-year-old daughter, a dad stated “if you do nothing else for us in this consultation, you will already have changed our lives.” He and his wife had followed the advice found on a CD I made at a home school convention that explained the effects of hidden allergies on a child’s learning and behavior. The parents reported many changes in their daughter after they removed dairy and soy products from her diet, including: she was able to focus much better; finish her work in a reasonable time; stop having daily meltdowns; and made tremendous growth in reading, comprehension, and writing. What phenomenon is occurring here?

Observing Struggling Learners

After home schooling my own son, I taught special education to children with moderate needs for years in the public school system. These were bright children with learning blocks that caused them to work too hard to learn or to remain focused. Patterns began to emerge as I studied these children’s files: about 85% had multiple antibiotics use when young and 99% had allergies. Although not all children with allergies have learning or focusing issues, most children with learning or focusing glitches have allergies. Unfortunately, these allergies are often unknown.

When a baby is allergic to milk, common manifestations are projectile vomiting, colic, recurrent ear or upper respiratory infections, or rashes. The symptoms disappear when the parent replaces dairy for the baby. Parents often say their child was allergic to dairy as an infant but can handle it now; actually, the manifestation has changed. Now, the allergy is manifesting as reading reversals, meltdowns, attention and focusing problems, hyperactivity or sensory processing problems. This is a tricky connection to make because it does not look like a typical allergy manifestation. (Cerebral Allergies, Dr. Philpott, MD, Help for Your Hyperactive Child, William Crook, MD, Superimmunity for Kids, Leo Galland, MD)

What Symptoms Should I Look For?

Children suffering with stomachaches, dark circles under their eyes, constant sniffling, reflux, eczema, asthma, chronic bronchitis, recurrent ear infections, or bed wetting may have a hidden allergy. The most common of these seems to be a dairy allergy or sensitivity. Symptoms these allergies manifest in the areas of:

Academic Manifestations:
  1. The child will have inconsistent performance: he or she will know the material one day but not the next.
  2. The child will appear to be lazy and unmotivated.
  3. The child will possess poor memory.
  4. The child will make writing reversals.
  5. The child struggles with focusing and attention.
Behavioral Manifestations:
  1. The child has sensory processing problems: things such as noises, tags, foods, and transitions bother this child.
  2. The child is irritable.
  3. The child is hyperactive.
  4. The child has frequent meltdowns.

If an allergy is just affecting the nervous system, it may seem (to the parent) to be a behavior, focusing, or learning problem. If parents suspect a food allergy, they can ask their child’s pediatrician for a blood test that will help to pinpoint the allergy. Tests that are not blood tests such as the scratch test are generally not as helpful. On occasion, an allergy test may not uncover the allergy. The physicians mentioned above recommend a six-week allergy elimination trial if a child exhibits any of the above symptoms. Dr. Block warns that during this six-week trial it is important to not even have one teaspoon of the offending food (the most common allergens are dairy, eggs, peanuts, and wheat). The child with a hidden allergy is suffering with a malfunctioning immune/alert system. It shouts “Red Alert!” and sends out histamine when only one teaspoon is ingested as though an entire gallon was ingested. This experiment can be undertaken as a science project: remove the offending food(s) for six weeks and keep track on a calendar of any changes. Then, put the food(s) back in and watch what happens.

Some Solutions for Hidden Allergies

In her book No More Ritalin, Dr. Block gives samples of handwriting before and after a child is given a suspected food allergen. Before, the child’s name is written perfectly, but after the allergen is ingested, his name is written in mirror image.

Dr. Batmanghelidj, a pioneering physician, talks about different manifestations of allergies in Your Body’s Many Cries For Water. He recommends that anyone with allergies or asthma should consider increasing their daily intake of water (half their body weight in ounces of water, gradually achieved). He says that asthma and allergies are manifestations of a dehydrated state in the body. Water and sea salt, a natural antihistamine, with its combination of natural minerals and natural sodium, comes to the rescue. Dr. Batman, as he is referred to, has many letters from physicians telling of their good experience with this re-hydration program with their own child as well as their patients.

Many parents find relief for their child’s hidden food allergy or sensitivity (after the six week elimination diet) using natural enzymes designed to help the child digest the offending food substance. Two books by Karen DeFelice give tremendous information about how to use enzymes to help your child with allergies that are manifesting in behavioral and physical ways: Enzymes for Autism and other Neurological Conditions (these powerful, natural enzymes work for many other conditions other than Autism) and Enzymes: Go With Your Gut. My husband found that he can now eat all the offending foods that he couldn’t for years by using these enzymes ( Maybe this could be your child, (or husband), too.

In these books, parents write of a phenomenon they call the Happy Child Effect: children who were previously grumpy and hard to get along with because of a hidden allergy or sensitivity are now happy all the time, according to the parents’ reports. Speech and sleep improves and food intolerances are gradually decreased. Children who have sensory processing disorders benefit the most, it seems. They can soon tolerate noise, transitions, and food textures. This is certainly something for parents to read, consider, and pray about for their child.

There are also many good natural anti-inflamatory supplements and approaches that we take. Besides Pycnogenol (Maritime Pine Plus), you can also use turmeric to help with allergy symptoms.


God has given us wonderful solutions for many of life’s everyday, yet perplexing problems. As we seek Him, He will faithfully show us the way for our child.

The information in this article should not be construed as a diagnosis or medical advice. Please consult your physician for any medical condition and before adding supplements or changing a child’s diet.

Dianne Craft has a Master’s Degree in special education and is a Certified Natural Health Professional. She has a private consultation practice, Child Diagnostics, Inc., in Littleton, Colorado.