Autism & Cannabis
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that appears within the first 3 years of life. Autism most commonly affects communication and social skills.
Children are typically diagnosed with autism in the first 18 months of life, a period when parents and caregivers notice difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication and also with social interactions.
One child’s story, however, suggests that cannabis may have a potential role to play in helping autistic children acquire verbal skills.
The parents of Kalel Santiago of Puerto Rico had to wait until their infant son survived the neuroblastoma cancer he was diagnosed with at age 10 before they could address his symptoms of ASD.
During his cancer treatment, Kalel exhibited signs of autism, but his parents waited until he was three years old — and cancer-free — before they looked at his behavior.
While in the hospital for his cancer, Kalel didn’t speak at all, and wouldn’t respond to verbal or visual cues.
After educating themselves on ASD, Kalel’s parents, Abiel Gomez Santiago and his wife Gladys, stumbled onto an unusual treatment for Kalel’s autism: cannabis oil.
CBD oil, which is a concentrated form of the cannabinoid, is fast-gaining a reputation for its potent medical and health effects.
CBD oils are being used to treat the painful symptoms and side-effects of radiological and chemotherapy for cancers. The oil is also being used to help reduce the severity of epileptic seizures in young people.
In Kalel’s case, the CBD oil treatment had a startling effect: it gave him the ability to speak.
“He surprised us in school by saying the vowels, A-E-I-O-U. It was the first time ever,” Abiel said. “You can’t imagine the emotion we had, hearing Kalel’s voice for the first time. It was amazing.
“The teacher recorded him and sent it to my wife and me and we said well, the only different thing we have been doing is using the CBD.”
In 2000 researchers at the University of California at Irvine discovered that the way marijuana interacts with the brain could be used to treat Parkinson’s Disease, schizophrenia, and autism.
Cannabinoids help to prevent the neurons of the brain from further degradation, a phenomenon researchers believe may be linked to autism and other cognitive and neurological disorders.
Currently, however, only anecdotal evidence is available about the success of using CBD oil to treat autism in young people.