Many children with autism also have seizures. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 1/3 of individuals with autism spectrum disorder also have epilepsy. Epilepsy is a brain disorder marked by recurring seizures, or convulsions. Some parents are finding that a ketogenic diet is helping to eliminate this scary symptom of their child’s autism.
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that has been used to treat difficult-to-control epilepsy in children. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. The diet contains a 4:1 ratio by weight of fat to combined protein and carbohydrate. This is achieved by excluding high-carbohydrate foods such as starchy fruits and vegetables, bread, pasta, grains and sugar, while increasing the consumption of foods high in fat such as nuts, cream and butter.
In a study, almost half of the children and young people with epilepsy who tried some form of this diet saw their number of seizures drop by at least half, and the effect persisted even after discontinuing the diet. A study published in 2003 demonstrated that some children with autism on an intermittent ketogenic diet experienced a significant reduction in autistic symptoms.
If this is something you are interested in, please consult your doctor. The ketogenic diet is a medical nutrition therapy that should involve participants from various disciplines, including a pediatric dietician, and pediatric neurologist.