Our keto journey began in 2018 after years of failed attempts with modern medication. I am the proud mother of five children. My eldest, Christian, is 14 and has autism and epilepsy. With his dual diagnosis, it has always been a struggle to balance which one took “priority.” Christian’s cognitive level is 4 years of age, and his verbal skills are limited. Christian is accustomed to experiencing up to 30 seizures, even on medications. Thus, of the two, autism was often on the back burner. As a mother, I found it difficult to focus on helping him with the challenges of autism and communication when he was having seizures every 30 minutes, becoming forgetful and tired.
I remember his neurologist mentioned the ketogenic diet three years ago, but it was not until the possibility of surgery that I truly made an effort to investigate a strict change of diet. Fear of failure kept me from trying for so long. He has younger siblings, and I did not want to “punish” them by adopting this new diet for everyone. However, I watched a documentary on Netflix called “The Magic Pill,” and it completely shifted my perspective.
As an overweight mother of five, I had no idea that there was a possibility that I could help by trying to cut out carbs and sugars. I was clueless to the truth behind fats and how the body works. I vowed that Christian and I would both limit our carbs together and begin this journey. For years, I helplessly watched him take medications that would cause side effects and wished I could take them for him. Not anymore. By committing to join him on this journey, I felt empowered and connected in assisting him with something directly. I started in May 2018, and he followed in June. I took that first month to experiment with recipes and see if it worked. I was impressed by my weight loss, so I continued in making the shift for Christian.
He was admitted into the Keto Clinic under his neurologist’s care. We were on this new lifestyle change of low-carb living. Now, I wish I could say he never had a seizure again, or that he speaks consistently, but that is not the case. What I can say is that the ketogenic diet has changed our lives. We are now at 50 grams of carbs per day and have seen a great deal of improvement, and Christian has dropped two medications from his regimen. He has lost over 15 pounds and is more interactive and engaged. His communication and verbal language skills have also improved. These are accomplishments from a simple nutritional change!
Now, we have experienced difficulties in keeping carbs away from him because his siblings are not restricted. I try to keep the “bad” food in a locked area, but I sometimes slip up and have minor setbacks. Then, in some moments that I make food for his siblings, Christian looks at them confused as to why he cannot eat what they are eating. Other times, Christian will sneak himself a cookie or something sweet, and he is kicked out of ketosis. When Christian is not in active ketosis, he experiences a greater number of seizures. He is lethargic and inattentive. I can tell if he has gone over his carb limit by the way he is behaving and seizure activity. The diet is not the factor contributing to autism or epilepsy, but I do believe it plays a major part.
It is beyond encouraging knowing that the ketogenic diet is helping, but it is always a burden knowing that I cannot control everything. We are still newbies on this journey and are constantly learning. I am growing in consistency and variety. I believe that the more I learn to diversify our meals, the greater the improvement he will make. I hope that meal-prepping is going to give a boost to our success thus far. Furthermore, I am gradually transitioning the family while I build the solid foundations on the ketogenic lifestyle. One day, the entire house will be keto-friendly! Every day we make progress, and for that, I am grateful!
My name is Jeniece Stewart, and I am a true Georgia peach. I am the founder of Special Needs Siblings, Inc – a non-profit organization committed to supporting the siblings of disabled individuals. I am also the proud of mother five fabulous children- Christian, Caleb, Jada, Rose, and Raymond, all of whom rock my world! My personal experiences as a special needs mother spearheaded my passions into special needs advocacy and consultation. I focus primarily in the Autism, Epilepsy, and Sibling areas within the special needs community. I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling the world, and meeting new people!