In The Media: The Telegraph – Can Diet Help with Autism?

The Telegraph published an article on the lovely Lee family who I had the pleasure of working with in 2013. Their daughter Olivia who was 10 years old at the time was the main reason they were starting the Gaps Protocol. As they saw the benefits of the diet they all began to follow the protocol. Here is how the article appeared in the Telegraph.

“It was a chance link on YouTube that led to Michael and Helen Lee adopting the GAPS diet with their 11-year-old daughter, Olivia, last summer. Olivia was seven-and-a-half when she was diagnosed with non-verbal autism, and, despite receiving excellent support from her school, her family had little help from doctors or therapists. “They said there was nothing they could do for her,” recalls Helen. “Anything we did to try to help Olivia, we found out on the internet or from other parents.” Around Easter last year, Olivia’s symptoms worsened. Michael says, “Her behaviour was deteriorating. We were trying to arrange more respite care, but she screamed every time we left the room.” Helen adds, “She would nip and scratch us, go for her brother Jacob or make herself vomit. She was raging – there’s no other word for it.”

Desperate, Michael searched online and found some interviews with Dr Natasha Campbell McBride, the author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome (or GAPS). “We watched with chins on the floor, thinking, ‘She’s just described everything we’ve been through in the past 10 years.” They immediately ordered the book. “I read it four times over our holiday,” says Michael. In it, Campbell-McBride, the mother of an autistic son, describes how the digestive system affects the brain. Helen uses the analogy of a leaky pipe: “Olivia’s digestive system doesn’t work as it should and leaks poison into her blood, affecting the clarity of her brain.” .

“The idea behind the GAPS protocol,” Michael continues, “is to avoid anything unnatural getting into her bloodstream. Everything she eats should be made from scratch.”

The Lees embarked on the introduction diet in full earlier this year, under the guidance of Sarah Hanratty, a nutritionist and GAPS practitioner. “We did it as a family, so that Olivia wouldn’t feel alienated. We make soups with stocks cooked from scratch, and home-baked crackers have replaced bread. We cut out ingredients that could potentially cause Olivia harm, then gradually reintroduce them, keeping watch for any change in her symptoms. She’s eating fruit again, cooked in ways that are easier on her digestive system, and we are just considering whether to add dairy back in. It’s not a quick fix.”