Wigan girl with 'exorcist syndrome' has been symptom free for more than a year

Amelia Ashcroft, 12, was told she had the syndrome known as PANS in 2016, which could involve her laughing hysterically and constantly licking her lips

Friday, 30th April 2021, 3:02 pm
Updated Friday, 30th April 2021, 3:04 pm
Nikki Ashcroft form Wigan with son Brooke, 14, and daughter Amelia, 12, right

The mum of a girl, who has lived with a condition called “exorcist syndrome”, says she has been symptom free for more than a year.

Amelia Ashcroft, from Norley Hall, first had the syndrome known as PANS in 2016, which could involve her laughing hysterically and constantly licking her lips.

The 12-year-old first had a terrifying outburst in a supermarket with Amelia smacking her lips and then starting to scream and shout.

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Her attacks were so bad that mum Nikki Ashcroft had to restrain her - and they would happen randomly.

It made Nikki so alarmed that she videoed her daughter during an attack and posted it on Facebook asking for help.

She got a reply from a woman suggesting Amelia, a pupil at Dean Trust Wigan was suffering from “exorcist syndrome”, and doctors later confirmed she had the extremely rare condition which had been triggered by tonsillitis.

Doctors then gave Amelia antibiotics to treat the condition which have worked, and now five years later, she hasn’t had any symptoms or attacks.

Mum Nikki now wants to raise awareness of PANS - which is caused when a streptococcal infection, like tonsillitis, triggers a misdirected immune response, resulting in inflammation on a child’s brain.

This causes life changing symptoms like anxiety, tics, alterations in personality and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Nikki, who also has a 14-year-old son Brooke with PANDAS, a similar condition which has not affected him the same, said: “It was on bonfire weekend five years ago when Amelia started to have a really high temperature and was hallucinating.

“I took her to the doctors and we were told she had septic tonsillitis which turned out to trigger her PANS.”

Nikki and Amelia visited the GP who referred her to Wigan Infirmary where she got the diagnosis.

Nikki said: “I showed the doctor the videos of Amelia’s attacks and he asked me ‘what do I think she had’, and I said PANS and he said I was spot on.

“Amelia’s strep levels were at 900 when they should be 200.

“She was given antibiotics and then referred to Alder Hey hospital where she was overseen before being referred back to Wigan.

Since then Nikki has said Amelia has had to have no antibiotics or treatment over the past 18 months - and has not experienced any attacks or symptoms.

She said: “Amelia has done really well and she’s amazing.

“She even plays rugby now and has come on leaps and bounds.

“It’s only because we were lucky enough to receive the right treatment.

“There’s a lot of families out there in crisis because not enough is known about the condition, or the treatment needed.

“The number of children suffering .has escalated over the past 12 months due to a neurologist leaving Alder Hey hospital and although it has a classification the hospital do not stand by the diagnosis given in a lot of circumstances.

“Again we have been lucky that my daughter’s diagnosis was never disputed and therefore she was able to receive the right treatment and recover from the illness.”

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