Why risk the social stigmas and possibilities of legal implications of treating a minor child with cannabis when there are several pharmaceutical treatment options available? To answer that question, we have to look at the many different angles pertaining to it.
Not one single options, be it one of many therapies, pharmaceutical medication or cannabis, is a cure for autism. They are all inevitably nothing more than buffers against the many facets and challenges that autism can present to the patients and the families and caregivers surrounding them.
Autism itself ranges from mild nuances and quirks, to severities such as insomnia, hindered or even total inability to communicate, lack of appetite which can lead to malnutrition, inability to recognize dangers, elopement, self-injurious behaviors, aggression towards others, severe obsessive and compulsory behaviors, impulsiveness, anxiety, petit mal seizures and in many cases, the combination of all of these things as well as other issues. In my particular situation, we were dealing with all of the above in a diagnosis of severe autism at age three.
Given the communication barriers we faced with our child being completely non-verbal and at a high risk of elopement, we had to strongly consider the dangers of administering any medication that causes physical dependency. We also had to consider the many dangerous side effects of the various medications we were offered, since our child was unable to effectively communicate her feelings. After weighing the risks, we decided it was in the best interest to attempt to adapt our life to her specific needs, rather than mask her symptoms with potentially dangerous drugs.
Since birth, our daughter suffered chronic insomnia, sleeping no more than three hours per night, if at all. She had very peculiar eating habits, only nibbling at certain particular foods at best, and was considerably underweight. Her impulsiveness and lack of safety boundaries which often led to elopement brought the need for constant supervision, and to adapt to this, our family took shifts watching over her throughout the day and night in an effort to keep her safe. As she grew older, these challenges grew with her, and new obstacles presented themselves as well.
Self injurious behaviors, aggression, and obsessive, compulsive and repetitive behaviors had developed, and we found ourselves faced with the reality that something different had to be done.We spoke to her pediatrician, voiced our concerns about medications, dependency and side effects, and tried a medication to treat her insomnia in hopes that regulated sleep would bring about a positive overall change in her health and behavior.
The medication worked on her insomnia for about three days, though it gave no positive change in behaviors, then suddenly had no effect at all. Her insomnia was back regardless of the medication, and she seemed to be acting more aggressively and experiencing drastic mood swings. We stopped the medication and vowed to find a better alternative.
We began looking deeper into cannabis as a possible option, knowing and understanding its effects and its lack of creating a physical dependency. After a bit of extensive research, we made an appointment with a physician who agreed to see our daughter and discuss the possibility of treating her autism with cannabis. After our visit, the physician signed a recommendation and our daughter was protected under the OMMP as a patient.
So our new journey began, in October of 2014.We decided that an infused edible just before bedtime would be the best option, so we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.
The first night of her new treatment was also the first full night of sleep she had ever experienced. The following morning, she woke up with a very pleasant disposition, sat down and ate a full breakfast, and began the day showing no signs of anxiety. In one single treatment, we had already seen incredible results and transformations to her overall demeanour.
The following night, we continued the path, and continued to see positive results. A few weeks passed, and her health continued to improve. Her paediatrician, who was totally unaware that we had started a cannabis regime at the time, was noting improvements in her mental disposition, physical appearance, and noted that she was finally gaining weigh, which he chalked up to a growth spurt.
Over the last few years, we have seen incredible changes. Our daughter has continued to progress. She maintained an appropriate appetite and reached a healthy weight, she maintained a regulated sleep schedule, she was able to self-regulate her OCD, anxiety and meltdowns much better, and that was just the beginning.
Her staring spells and seizures have also nearly disappeared. Since beginning a treatment with cannabis, she was able to slow down and focus more clearly and has since learned to read. She has also learned to communicate with us and others using an iPad app, and she is continually advancing her ability to verbally communicate, telling us her immediate feelings and needs in short phrases and even properly answering questions. She is now beginning to write freehanded as well.
These great changes all came about immediately after beginning treatment with cannabis, and she continues to progress both cognitively as well as physically with each passing day. Her progression has been noted and documented by various physicians, therapists and teachers, and with her very visible and undeniable progress, she has even changed the opinions of both an M.D. and a social worker who’s prior views on the medicinal use of cannabis were negative, at best.To attest to the lack of dependency and addictive properties of cannabis, her medication has been swiftly stopped on several occasions without any signs of withdrawal and without her showing any cravings or other signs of addiction.
When her medication schedule is stopped, though her progressions are still there, the more severe symptoms of her autism will reappear within a week and can be immediately resolved by restarting her medication. She has requested a daytime dose on occasion, and we have found that on the rare occasion in which this occurs, she will typically have a light seizure or severe anxiety from environmental overstimulation on those days, which has shown us that she is not seeking euphoria from the cannabis, but for the relief it provides from seizures and high anxiety. She knows and understands her body, and she has shown that she also knows and understands her medication and its effects.
While I’d like to say that cannabis can cure autism, it cannot. It is not a cure. I can say, however, that it is a significant benefactor in improving the quality of life in many people, and in my direct experience, cannabis has been nothing short of a godsend in the safe and effective treatment of autism. We have had the blessing of being able to share her progress directly with the founder of Dynasty Genetics since we first began her treatment, and together we have been able to establish a link to the specific effects of certain cannabis strains pertaining to her needs, and have seen continued progress as new hybrids are being developed to treat the issues that arise in those afflicted with autism.
Cannabis may or may not be the answer for everyone, but for us, it has brought a far better quality of life to a child who faces many different barriers, and it has shown itself to be a safe, reliable and affordable alternative to the barrage of dangerous and addictive pharmaceutical products that are on the market for the treatment of autism.
Written and Published By William Rhyne In Weed World Magazine Issue 143