The ‘A’ Word (Blog #2)

The A Word…

I remember clearly – it was Boxing Day 2007 and Ellie, who was normally such a happy and sociable toddler was very upset by the visitors we had that day.  She looked terrible – her eyes had black circles around them, she looked pale and her nose was constantly running.  Over the following days, Ellie seemed to go even further downhill. Simple instructions such as “put your coat on” was met with moans and groans and hand flapping.  Ellie stopped looking at my Nan and my mum, became very quiet and speech was replaced with groans.

At a Christmas play date a friend suggested changing her milk as her daughter was having some problems.  Anything was worth trying so we changed the cows milk to soya milk. The change in Ellie was unremarkable.  The following morning we were greeted with “Hello Mummy, Hello Daddy” instead of the moaning we had been experiencing.  As days went by, Ellie became less moany and able to follow instructions again… but this didn’t last.

Over the following weeks, she started to revert back to her previous behaviour and some. The moaning became a lot worse, eye contact was going and Ellie didn’t seem to recognise close family members. We would also find her climbing into tiny spaces and constantly climbing on me – which I suppose you’d think was quite normal for a two year old, but for some reason, this just didn’t feel right.

This maybe a little TMI… but Ellie’s bowel movements had changed.  She produced what looked like ‘rabbit droppings’! She started dribbling excessively, started to eat weird non-edible things and would want to constantly be eating Weetabix.

We also had this really weird experience one night where Ellie was sat on my lap in her room, but she was looking behind me laughing uncontrollably – like she could see someone there.  We jokingly said “Ellie, can you see dead people?” but the whole episode really was quite spooky!

I’ll never forget the day when my mum brought up the A word.  It was a couple weeks into January and my husband Andy was working away for a few days. It was just after lunch when I got home from work and Ellie really wasn’t too good.  Mum had that look about her that she was going to tell me something… and then she came out with it… “Do you think Ellie might be Autistic?”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I felt sick to the stomach. She was just having some trouble with her milk and something else wasn’t agreeing with her… where on earth had this come from! I just thought it was ridiculous.  Then mum mentioned a site about Allergy Induced Autism called Respectrum, run by Marilyn Le Breton and Rosemary Kessick – unfortunately, this site is no longer running. Part of the site included case studies about children and how certain foods had affected them.  The comparison was unbelievable. Their stories all rang true to what we were experiencing.  As we read through the case studies, it became clear that these children saw improvements when removing wheat, gluten and dairy from the diet. From the experience with milk, we knew there was definitely something in this link with food.

It was time to become Google masters and do our research…. And also tell hubby what we had found out.  That bit wasn’t going to be quite as easy.

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Until next time… Love & hugs xxx

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My First blog post… Our story of Autism and Diet… in a nutshell! (Blog #1)

Welcome to what I hope will be the first of many posts, talking about the ups and downs on living with a ‘Tween’ with Aspergers. From past experiences to future hopes and dreams… it’s all here!

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Welcome to ‘Tales of a Mother’s Daughter’.

This blog is primarily about the ups and downs of living with a ‘Tween’ on the Autistic Spectrum.  My wonderful, funny, kind, challenging, anxious daughter is now 12 years old and on the brink of teenage years – god help me!.

From tales and tips, humour and hilarity (hopefully) and moans and groans, I’ll be waffling on about all sorts! From special wheat/dairy free diets and alternative therapies to hormones, teenage strops (and strategies to get you through it) and anything and everything in between!

I’ll be talking through past experiences as well and current ones – good and bad – offering advice… and asking for help!

 So, why am I here?

I’ve been saying that I was going to start a blog about our experiences for years.  I remember mentioning to my boss in an annual review at least four years ago, but never got around to starting… life just got in the way!

A lot has happened since those initial thoughts of the blog, and finally, I’ve gotten around to making a start.

The event to prompt me was the loss of my wonderful Mum.  For five years she bravely battled cancer but finally lost the fight in February 2016.

Mum was my rock, my oracle, my best friend and the person who knew me inside out.  Now that I no longer have her to turn to, I’m ready to start sharing tales about my daughter on this here blog – hence the name, ‘Tales of a Mother’s Daughter’.  Clever huh?  I hope some of the information and ideas will be useful, though I can’t promise it won’t be used for a right old moan now and again!

Our Story… in a nutshell!

What started out as a virus for our two year old daughter turned into something life changing.  Something that would challenge our strength, our belief and our fight for a diagnosis.

Our daughter Ellie was two when she was poorly in early December 2007.  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.  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.

After paying to see a consultant who had no clue as to what was going on and deemed Ellie’s dream world behaviour as ‘endearing’, we had no choice but to turn to Google! We took to researching and found study cases for Allergy Induced Autism that matched exactly what was happening to Ellie.  The main focus in helping children in these cases was removing Wheat, Gluten and Dairy from the diet.  Not knowing what else to do other than to watch our daughter’s symptoms worsen, we had no choice but to give this a go.

After going through a period of ‘withdrawal’ from these foods (not too dissimilar to drug addicts coming off heroin)  three weeks later we started to see an improvement in Ellie’s speech  and she started to interact with us again… but things still weren’t back to how they were before.  If at any time Ellie accidently had one of the withdrawn foods, she would suffer around three days later with excruciating tummy pains, and a worsening of symptoms in eye contact, moaning etc which would then lessen over a few days.  It was clear to see that there was something in this connection with food.

There we embarked on a two year journey, seeing consultants, re-telling our story over and over again, having multiple assessments.  We would go through the same story of how Ellie would regress and be in pain when she had wheat or dairy but the Paediatricians we saw had never heard of a connection with Autism and food.  We were made to feel like we were making it all up.

We then insisted on seeing a particular consultant who was more specialised in this field.  After several appointments with Ellie, she confirmed that Ellie was indeed on the Autistic Spectrum and we finally had a diagnosis for her.  We also saw a Dietician that confirmed that some children with Autism can improve when certain foods are removed from the diet – but there is a very small window of opportunity to do this.  Finally we felt we were getting somewhere!

Once we got a diagnosis we started to get some help.  Support groups helped us to understand what was going on and put us in touch with professionals who were more ‘in the know’.

We met with a lady called Ruth Salisbury who, once we told her our story, sat and 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 effect the brain.

To have someone understand what you are talking about and give you the answers to why things are happening was the biggest relief. I think I cried the whole day, retelling family and friends that this is what had happened.  For two and a half years we told our story to at least half a dozen consultants that didn’t understand, just nodded and said “oh, I see”. Finally – somebody understood!

Things would have been very different if we had listened to those doctors and consultants in the early days that didn’t really understand what was going on with our daughter.  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 and got the help to move us forward.

When it comes to your children, never give up on your instinct…always go with your gut. You know your children better than anyone.

 Until next time…  Love & Hugs xxmothersdaugter logo

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