Health

When Two Spectrums Collide

Lydia Kariuki

November 14, 2019

You’ve just been told that your child has autism and the first thing that comes to your mind is Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rain Man, what! The words weigh heavily on your heart as you try to fight back the tears that are stinging your eyes. What do you do? Of course, you turn to Google for consolation.

Fine, let’s consult Google.

Right there, your heart sinks!

What Is Autism?

It is now known that autism is a spectrum disorder (ASD) that is fundamentally characterized by disruptions in social interaction, behavioral disturbances, repetitive behavior, and poor language development.

 

Image credits Pixabay

Most times autism is diagnosed in childhood when the child portrays one or more of the mentioned characteristics. Remember that autism is a spectrum of disorders so severity varies. For example, not all autistic children are non-verbal; some are very articulate- common myth busted.

A diagnosis of autism may mean different things to different parents, depending on where the child lies on the spectrum.

The true cause of ASD is not known, however, genetic and environmental factors have been shown to play a significant role.

Traditional treatment involves symptom control and behavior modification therapies. Anti-depressants and anti-psychotics have been widely used in this area. This has not been successful to a large extent, and most patients have had to drop off because of severe side effects.

Consequently, parents of children with ASD are constantly seeking for better therapies for this chronic condition. Some parents have even dared to do their research and implement treatment on their own, as you will see shortly. Mothers especially have done so much in this area.

Stories And Myths

 

Image credit Pixabay

Let’s begin with the myth, then the story.

There are so many myths out there about what autism is and is not. I won’t burst all of them, just one that is quite disturbing.

Myth: Autism is caused by vaccination

Truth: There is no link between thimerosal which is found in many childhood vaccines and autism. There is sufficient proof for this.

Take home: Let your child get vaccinated.

You can check here for more myths on autism.

Here is the story

A child from Rhode Island by the name of Dylan was started on cannabis oil for autism after conventional treatment failed to give him significant relief. The parents researched cannabis oil on their own and decided to try this approach. Dylan’s symptoms have greatly improved since the commencement of the “unconventional” treatment.

Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism is a grassroots campaign initiative that is rooting for alternative treatments for children living with autism.

How Can Cannabis Help?

If you click through WebPages you will come across several preliminary studies, some of which are still open, investigating the relationship between cannabis and autism. One study is noteworthy, going by the sample size and study duration.

In this study, 188 children with autism were treated with cannabis oil for six months between 2015 and 2017. Results showed that over 80% of the children reported a significant level of improvement in their symptoms. Only 15% had slight or no change after the treatment.

The cannabis oil contained 30% cannabidiol oil (CBD) and 1.5% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

What Is It About Cannabis And Autism?

One thing, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is responsible for this. The ECS is a dynamic system that maintains homeostasis in the body.

One study on mice showed a clear link between endocannabinoid signaling and autism. There is clear evidence that the genetic mutations that cause autism also cause changes in the ECS. Hence, it appears that phytocannabinoids, which modulate the ECS, can play a role in correcting autism. Science should expound on this.

Lessons To Take Home

So far what we have is anecdotal and preliminary evidence. As much as there is a reason for optimism, it’s advisable to advance cautiously. The endocannabinoid systems play a key role in brain development which is at its peak during the formative childhood years. Until clear links between autism and cannabis have been established, any interruptions could be repercussive.