Autism and Cannabis
Many parents have been turning to medical marijuana as an alternative treatment for their children who suffer from mild to severe autism and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Although, it is an extremely controversial subject, there have been too many significant accounts of the positive effects on autism and ASD, not to accept medical marijuana as a new form of treatment.
What is Autism?
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, is a brain development disorder, usually diagnosed in children between age 2 and 3. Some infants can be diagnosed as early as 18 months or earlier.
The symptoms of autism vary in each case, but usually include(s) one or more of the following behaviors:
•Difficulty in speech and delayed langue development
•Repetitive behaviors (sometimes self-harming)
•Flapping, rocking, or spinning are common
•Inability to make eye contact
•Preferring to be alone
•Difficulty with understanding others emotions
•Echolalia- Repetition of words or phrases
•Easily unsettled by minor routine changes
•Has abnormal and sometimes intense reactions to lights, smells, textures, sounds, and tastes.
•One with autism may also show excelled skills in math, music, and art.
•Autism may also come with other health issues such as; attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder ADHD, gastrointestinal disorders GI, phobias, seizures, anxiety, and sleeping disorders.
What Causes Autism?
Autism may be caused by genetic mutations that are increased by environmental factors. Some factors include the age during conception, illness during pregnancy, and complications during delivery. Doctor’s recommend folic-rich foods and prenatal vitamins before and after conception to lower the chances of autism.
Since every case of autism differs in its severity and symptoms, methods and combinations of treatment differ as well. Each treatment is accustomed to meet a child’s needs and focuses on their individual weaknesses.
Verbal and behavioral therapy treatments are recommended to be started in early age or immediately after diagnoses.
There are many treatments that have had positive results like speech therapy, social skill classes, horseback riding therapy, and a gluten-free and dairy-free diet.
One of the most effective treatments is occupational therapy. Children and infants are guided by a therapist with issues like social interactions, sensory processing disorder, sleeping disorders, potty training, and motor skill development.
Floortime is another very effective therapy treatment. Parents and/or therapists directly engage with children and infants through activities. This type of treatment helps in two-way communication, complex communication, emotional thinking, emotional ideas, and human engagement.
There are prescription treatments as well. Risperidone (Risperdal) and Aripiprazole (Abilify) are the only current FDA approved medications for autism.
They are known to help eliminate aggressive outbursts and self-harming behaviors. They of course come with minor side effects like; muscle tremors, lightheadedness, male breast development, vomiting, weight gain, insomnia, and many more.
They also come with major life-threatening side effects such as; diabetes, heart complications, and seizures. Certain serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and stimulant medications, like Adderall or Ritalin, are experimentally given as treatments.
Cannabis treating autism
Currently, there are no clinical studies on autism and cannabis. However, there are credible studies proving that marijuana helps aid behavioral issues in severe autism.
Dr. Giovanni Martinez has amazing results with a child effected by autism. Dr, Martinez, founder of SURF4DEM, a program that provides the therapeutic benefits of surfing, discovered amazing results with CBD oil. Dr. Martinez treated a child with hemp oil spray twice a day. After the first three weeks the child went from complete non-verbal communication to developing remarkable language skills.
Dr. Martinez stated “initially the child would become so frustrated with his inability to communicate, he would act out and injure himself. But, now that he can express himself, he laughs and enjoys life.”
Adding “It’s incredible to see a child go from being non-communicative to achieving a significant improvement in quality of life—for both the child and his family.”
Another successful account of medical marijuana is the story of Joey Hester-Perez. He had tried over 13 different mood behavior medications which all came with serious side effects. Joey experienced seizures, liver damage, facial tics, and loss of appetite. He weighed only 46 pounds at ten years old, with the shapes of his bones visible on his skin.
His parents turned to medical marijuana hoping that it would help Joey eat more. Joey’s mother started giving him one medical marijuana brownie every couple days.
Joeys success with cannabis has led him to doings things that he never did before, like smiling and attempting to communicate with others.
We’ll end this article with a quote from Joey’ s mom,
“Until you’ve walked in my shoes. Until you’ve walked in Joey’s shoes. Until you’ve seen where a child was before cannabis, how much progress they’ve made after cannabis, and how much their lives can improve, who is anyone to pass judgment?” Mieko Hester-Perez