Ellie MeekSymptoms: autism Food Reactions: dairy, wheat, gluten
“What started out as a virus for our two year old daughter turned into something life changing.”
- At age two, Ellie lost the ability to communicate with her family almost overnight
- After more than two years of searching for answers, Ellie was diagnosed with Intolerance Induced Autism
- Mum Linda discovered yorktest after researching the link between autism and diet
- After cutting out her trigger foods, Ellie overcame her communication difficulties.
- Impressed by the results, Ellie’s brother and father also took the test and experienced the benefits of a yorktest programme.
- Ten years on, Ellie retested and followed a FoodScan Junior programme, which helped reduce eczema symptoms.
- In early 2018 Ellie and her mother, Linda, starred in yorktest’s first-ever television advert.
Ellie’s story – it all started back in 2007…
What started out as a virus for two-year-old Ellie turned into something life-changing for her entire family. It became a fight for a diagnosis which would challenge their strength and their belief in the medical system.
Ellie was two when she started feeling poorly. A couple of days of vomiting and temperature seemed nothing out of the ordinary. It wasn’t until over the Christmas period that things started to change. Mum Linda said:
“Eye contact with us was lost, speech which was fairly advanced had reduced to moans and groans. The ability to follow simple instructions was gone and recognition of close family reduced greatly.”
It was an extremely worrying time for the Meek family.
After paying to see a consultant who was unable to offer any advice, and who described Ellie’s behaviour as ‘endearing’, Linda felt she had no choice but to turn to the internet in a desperate attempt to find answers.
“We found case studies for ‘Allergy and Intolerance Induced Autism’ that matched exactly what was happening to Ellie. In these cases, the primary focus was to remove certain food groups from the diet. Watching our daughter’s symptoms worsen was not an option, we had no choice but to give this a go.”
After removing these foods from Ellie’s diet, and going through a period of ‘withdrawal’, improvements were seen in just three weeks. “Ellie’s speech improved and she started to interact with us again… but things still weren’t back to how they were before.”
If she accidentally consumed one of the eliminated ingredients, she would suffer around three days later with excruciating tummy pains, and problems with speech, signified by moaning, and difficulty making eye contact would return. As these symptoms would gradually lessen over a few days, it was clear to Linda that there was a significant connection with certain foods.
However, whilst Linda was convinced that food played a part in Ellie’s difficulties, she didn’t know exactly which ingredients were the problem, so she turned to the internet yet again and discovered yorktest food intolerance† testing.
The process involves sending a small finger-prick blood sample to the company’s laboratory, to be analysed for reactions for 113 food ingredients. The results confirmed that Ellie was intolerant to dairy, wheat and gluten; the Meek family finally had the answers they had been seeking for over two years.
The elimination diet
The testing programme included two consultations with a Registered Nutritional Therapist. Linda said: “Both consultations were incredibly insightful and supportive, not only did the nutritionist discuss the results, but also provided the guidance and support in creating a diet plan. Had we not had this support I would have found excluding wheat, gluten and cow’s milk from Ellie’s diet incredibly daunting.”
Ellie embarked on the recommended elimination diet and Linda saw instant and continuous improvements in the symptoms that Ellie had been experiencing. “I think I cried the whole day when we got the results from yorktest, and still do when I tell family and friends what has happened. We had told our story to at least half a dozen consultants who didn’t understand, but finally, somebody understood! But more importantly for us as a family, yorktest provided a solution, which has had such a positive effect for the whole family.”
The family then embarked on a two-year journey, seeing consultants, re-telling their story over and over again and having multiple assessments. Time and time again symptoms would return if Ellie ate her trigger foods but the Paediatricians who assessed her were not receptive to the idea that the ingredients themselves might be to blame.
As time went on, Linda became more and more desperate to find a doctor who would take her suspicions seriously as nobody who assessed Ellie would entertain the suggestion that food was to blame.
Eventually, Linda found a consultant who specialised in Autism. After several appointments with Ellie, she confirmed that she was indeed on the Autistic Spectrum and the family finally had a diagnosis, but this was just the first step to a successful outcome. Linda then found a Dietician who explained that some children with Autism can improve when certain foods are removed from the diet. “Finally, we felt we were getting somewhere!” says Linda.
Now that they had a diagnosis, it was time to begin to get help for Ellie. Joining support groups helped the family to understand what was going on, and put them in touch with professionals who were more ‘in the know’.
“We met with a lady called Ruth Salisbury who is an Autism Advisory teacher. Once we told her our story, she drew a diagram of the nervous system and explained to us exactly what had happened to Ellie’s system the day she had the virus and how things hadn’t reconnected properly once the virus had been fought. She explained how wheat and dairy are not being fully broken down in her tummy and therefore their ‘proteins’ stay in the bloodstream and affect the brain.”
Linda feels that things would have been very different if they had listened to the doctors and consultants who didn’t really understand what was going on with Ellie in the early days, and believes, “If we’d taken their advice, the situation would now be a very different one. With a little belief in what we were doing and the determination to fight – we managed to reverse those dark days of minimal eye contact, minimal speech and a host of other symptoms and kept going until we got the answers we needed to hear. My advice would be when it comes to your children you never give up!”
All four members of the Meek family from Bridgwater, Somerset, have now taken a yorktest food intolerance test. Whilst Mum, Linda, was found to have just one borderline reaction, the rest of her family had more significant intolerances. Fortunately, yorktest’s team were on hand to help.
“My husband and son were both found to have an intolerance to cow’s milk. My son, who was three at the time, had a number of symptoms such as tummy ache, loose stools and a lack of concentration. He started to improve within a week of removing the dairy. We now limit his dairy intake and allow the occasional treat.”
“My husband’s symptoms improved within a couple of weeks (of the elimination diet). He would suffer from itching on his back, a rash would appear on his face and he would feel lethargic. He can now have a small amount of dairy but nothing too excessive.”
Linda’s daughter Ellie meanwhile is both the first and last member of the family to follow a yorktest programme. yorktest’s services had a huge impact on her health as a two-year-old and ten years later, a retest revealed that she now had an intolerance to yeast.
“Ellie had painful eczema on her arms, which cleared up within a couple weeks of elimination (of yeast). No creams had been able to do this prior to the change in diet.”
When an opportunity came up in late 2017, to star in a yorktest TV ad, Linda and her family were more than happy to help.
“Ellie and I had a wonderful day filming for yorktest. It gave us some much needed time together and everyone on set was so friendly and made us feel at ease.”
“I was more than happy to share how much having the test has helped us as a family. Finding out that three out of four of us had strong food intolerances was a real game-changer.”
No truer is this the case than for daughter, Ellie, whose life was changed dramatically by a yorktest programme and most crucially, by her family’s tireless efforts to find the root cause of her symptoms.
Ellie’s mother, Linda, writes a blog about her family life and her experiences of bringing up a child with autism. Follow the story here: www.talesofamothersdaughter.com
Ellie followed a Junior Food Intolerance Test.