Would you think twice about giving your child cannabis oil if you thought it could improve their quality of life?
New research out of Israel has uncovered proof that cannabis can help children with autism deal with negative side effects. Overall, more than 80% of the parents of the 118 subjects (under 18) who participated in the study reported moderate or significant improvement in their child. This is promising news, as the scientific community has long struggled to gain a solid understanding of those affected by autism spectrum disorder, and in turn, solutions for treatment.
Jessica Moran, a caregiver to loved ones with autism and the Director of Marketing & Communications at Strainprint, has experienced the benefits of cannabis as treatment first-hand and hopes that others can, too. “I hope to see a day where (cannabis) is presented as a viable therapeutic option for parents of autistic kids,” says Jessica. “Where, if your child has side effects of symptoms related to autism – depression and anxiety are characteristic, a toolkit is presented, where you can try an antidepressant, or you can try cannabis, or you can try both.”
She’s definitely not alone in this hope. The benefits of CBD in children with autism spectrum disorder has been touted frequently in the media lately. However, the lack of evidence, uncertainty around what’s allowed (one study showed almost half of Canadian pediatricians didn’t know they could prescribe cannabis) – and, yes, stigma, make medical cannabis for children still taboo. So where are these parents who are using CBD to help their kids?
Jessica has some pointers for those seeking some solidarity. “When I talk to other parents about exploring (cannabis) as an option, the first starting point would be to go to a trusted resource. One I started with was a Facebook group called SheCann. Also, Strainprint has an online community where you can go and ask questions and moderators will respond. For example, someone could say, ‘I have a daughter with autism, she’s 10 and wants to explore CBD.’ One of our moderators will respond with a series of credible articles for you to explore. They’re not giving a solution or medical advice, but it takes a step out of combing all over the internet – there’s so much fake news out there.”
Connecting with others who are on their own journey toward finding treatment can be invaluable, but obviously, no amount of solidarity will help without the patient’s relationship with a doctor with the right experience. This relationship is key to uncovering the best possible way to incorporate cannabis into a treatment plan.
In addition to every person’s unique needs, “not every dose and method of ingestion works the same. Trying to achieve that optimal efficacy is a journey,” Jessica, who works with Dr. Blake Pearson of Greenly Medical Consulting, notes. This is especially true when it comes to children, whose bodies and brains are still growing and changing, and are going through things adults just aren’t. The journey for children will likely be a more winding one. However, with the right doctor, support, and attitude, cannabis can be a game-changer – for patients and for caregivers.
Specifically for Jessica’s brother, who is an adult living with autism, it’s been worth the effort to discover a relationship with cannabis that works. “In particular to my brother’s experience, who still lives at home and we’re still involved in his life, it’s been a huge relief for my parents and us to have a therapeutic option – that isn’t pharmaceutical – that’s helping him with some of those autistic tendencies that are debilitating,” Jessica says.
“An example would be a family wedding, which would be high stress for him with a lot of sensory issues going on. Normally in the past we’d give him something like an Atavan, which, the lasting effects and coming out of that are horrible. Now, he’s on oils which have helped immensely in those situations (in addition to integrating it into his daily life). If you do find the right dosage and the right product, it can be a game-changer – not only for the person with autism that you’re helping, but the caregivers around him.”
Kids grow up. Hopefully one day we will evolve to a place with medical cannabis where we say not just ‘start low, go slow’ – but also, start young. For disorders like autism, options that can add an element of sustainability to a treatment toolkit just make it easier to ride the waves of life, in youth and into adulthood.