Well from my readings on gluten, no two people are alike, and that just makes it that much more confusing to try to compare notes with each other.
I know oats are supposedly okay for lots of people who can't tolerate gluten, but it seems they've made me sick whenever I've tried, so I just gave up and don't want to mess around with them anymore, myself.
With the autism and other issues you mentioned...it sounds reasonable to at least entertain the notion that it is possible there might be gluten issues going on in the genes.
Testing isn't accurate at this point...standard tests used in the U.S. can rule celiac in, but not rule it out...and as a result, many people with this array of confusing symptoms are just given bandaid approaches to various things and not getting really well.
Dr. Kenneth Fine, the gastroenterologist I have linked to elsewhere on this forum, has a lab that tests for gluten antibodies (and other food intolerances/allergies) by testing samples of poop sent by people to his lab...I've heard a lot about this idea. There are some European countries switching to this type testing for gluten too, because supposedly even if you stop eating all gluten, your intestines will carry the antigens for up to two full years. Typical, and not so reliable, blood tests can test only what's currently inside the blood...and so if you stopped eating gluten and then went to get tested, you would have to eat a certain amount of gluten for a certain period of time for that test to even be anywhere near accurate.
Dr. Fine's lab is called Enterolab. I haven't done that, myself, though. I stopped gluten the first week of February, 2006, and kept notes to see what would happen. My symptoms were slow to recover (this is different with everybody too...some people notice improvement right away, but others need months--depends on what symptom is improving, how long they had trouble, how old they are, and who knows what else), but I did notice in my notes a stepwise, on and off thing happening...there were visible changes on paper, although I couldn't say I felt good until after 6 months' gluten free had gone by. Now it's been 9 months for me.
I have read of the connection of iodine in the body and herpetiformis dermititis too, as you mentioned. I've seen on message boards where people with these blisters might not get improvement for several months after going gluten free...I realize you were saying you didn't have blisters, but just some itching. I don't know what you should expect.
I'm not crazy about gluten free either...there are packaged products becoming easier to find all the time, but most of them are not vegan, and the ones that are usually have quite a bit of oil in them.
I've noticed a big difference, though in my health and well-being (I think I get a hopeless feeling when I've accidentally exposed myself to gluten, and feel generally happier when i'm away from it) and so for me I think it's gotta be gluten free.
I have found that I can either go to the healthfood store and buy really expensive pastas and flours and stuff...or I can buy Asian noodles and even a macaroni from China that are either all rice or tapioca...much cheaper. We eat spaghetti now from Asian vermicelli rice noodles...very cheap. I go to the international market and stock up on these things every two or three months now. I also buy rice flour there, in the Indian section. It's really cheap. It is white rice flour, but I can't afford the brown rice flour from health food stores. I buy some other flours from the indian section too.
Most of my baking is now done with sorghum flour, which is whole grain and so if perfectly McDougall. I buy that online at www.twinvalleymills.com
from 25 lb. buckets and always keep that on hand for pancakes, muffins, cakes, veggie pot pie, cobblers, etc. I use that stuff just about everyday. It's a little different to cook with, but once you gradually get to know the stuff, it's not bad, really. It's just that I HAVE to make all that stuff homemade now...but many McDougallers have to do most of it from scratch anyhow, so I guess we're all in the same boat on that.
As far as breastfeeding goes, it is supposed to make the child less likely to become celiac or react to other foods allergically, but I was never clear if that meant it only worked if you ATE those foods while nursing...so...I don't know how that works, really.
When I breastfed my daughter, she had diarrhea so bad that I eventually found Similac formula to be better for her than my own milk...but also, I was drinking lots of milk and eating wheat all the time...so...if I could go back in time now I would've been dairy/gluten free while nursing my child, because I think those things in my diet were making her sick.
Anyway, that's all I know. It is very confusing. It's not easy to live in a Western culture and be gluten free...if we were in parts of Africa or Asia it would be easy. I try to keep my thinking outside of this culture when it comes to food...there are a lot of non-gluten, healthy whole recipes around the world...we just have to find them and make them work out for us.