Mom Gives Autistic Child Medical Marijuana

By chillinwill · Oct 12, 2009 · Updated Oct 12, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    He has autism and terrible pain. Marijuana is taming his demons.

    Last spring, I wrote about applying for a medical marijuana license for my autistic, allergic 9-year-old son, J., in hopes of soothing his gut pain and anxiety, the roots of the behavioral demons that caused him to lash out at others and himself. After reading studies of how cannabis can ease pain and worry, and in consultation with his doctor, we decided to give it a try. A month into daily cannabis tea and mj-oil cookies (my husband discovered his inner baker), I reported, we both felt that J. seemed happier. But it was hard to tell. He’d have a good morning, then at dinner he’d throw his food. Still, we did notice that when he came home from school with stomach pain (he wasn’t getting any supplemental cannabis there), he’d run to the kitchen and demand his tea and cookie. As if he knew this was the stuff that dulled the hellish gut pangs.

    How is J. doing now, four months into our cannabis experiment? Well, one day recently, he came home from school, and I noticed something really different: He had a whole shirt on.

    Pre-pot, J. ate things that weren’t food. There’s a name for this: pica. (Pregnant women are known to pica on chalk and laundry starch.) J. chewed the collar of his T-shirts while stealthily deconstructing them from the bottom up, teasing apart and then swallowing the threads. By the time I picked him up from the bus stop after school, the front half of his shirt was gone. His pica become so uncontrollable we couldn’t let him sleep with a pajama top (it would be gone by morning) or a pillow (ditto the case and the stuffing). An antique family quilt was reduced to fabric strips, and he even managed to eat holes in a fleece blanket—so much for his organic diet. I started dressing him only in organic cotton shirts, but we couldn’t support the cost of a new one every day. The worst part was watching him scream in pain on the toilet, when what went in had to come out. I had nightmares about long threads knotting in digestive organs. (TMI? Welcome to our life!)

    Almost immediately after we started the cannabis, the pica stopped. Just stopped. J. now sleeps with his organic wool-and-cotton, hypoallergenic, temptingly chewable comforter. He pulls it up to his chin at night and declares, “I’m cozy!”

    Next, we started seeing changes in J.’s school reports. His curriculum is based on a therapy called Applied Behavioral Analysis, which involves, as the name implies, meticulous analysis of data. At one parent meeting in August (J. is on an extended school year), his teacher excitedly presented his June-July “aggression” chart. An aggression is defined as any attempt or instance of hitting, kicking, biting, or pinching another person. For the past year, he’d consistently had 30 to 50 aggressions in a school day, with a one-time high of 300. The charts for June through July, by contrast, showed he was actually having days—sometimes one after another—with zero aggressions.

    More evidence: the bus. For the last few years, the arrival of J.’s school bus had been the most traumatic and unpredictable moment of our day. J. has run onto the bus and hit the driver in the face. He has scuffled with the aides and tried to bite them. His behavior brought out the worst in people: One bus monitor (we joked that her personality better suited her for a job at the local prison) seemed to dislike all the kids but treated him with particular contempt, even calling him names, once in front of us.

    But the summer brought a new set of aides and driver. It hit me that these folks knew only “Cannabis J.”—a sparkly-eyed boy who says hi to them each morning, goes quietly to his seat, even tries to help put his snap-on harness on.

    One day, J.’s regular aide was sick, and a lady with a wacky smile lovingly escorted J. off the bus. There was something familiar about her; once I superimposed a hateful frown on her face, I burst out to my husband, as the bus snorted away, “It was her, wasn’t it?” We laughed as J. looked on. “Funny!” he said.

    There’s a twist to the happy marijuana story, though. While the cannabis has eased J.’s most overwhelming problem, his autism has become more distinct. As the school data show, his aggressive behavior is far less frequent, but his outbursts—vocalizations that include screams, barking, yips of happiness—remain. When J. was in his dark phase, we spent our time out of sight, out of mind, inside our house with a screeching, violent, food-and-dish-flinging J. The sounds were contained by double-paned windows (when they weren’t broken). Now, within our family, we’ve reached a lovely homeostasis: household goods unbroken, our arms and J.’s face unscratched. But as we venture outside to play in the yard, take after-dinner walks, or ride with J. on our tandem bike, we can see that the people in the neighborhood know our family is different, and that this is not always to their liking.

    Our closest neighbors (on one side, we could probably pass them a pie from our kitchen) have always been understanding. But on the next street, a man stops playing ball with his son when he sees us, and pushes his boy into the house as we approach, turning his back on J.’s cheery “hel-llooo!” He is the man we suspect yells at us—from behind other houses, so we can’t see him—when J. sometimes vocalizes a bit loudly outside. Then there’s the mom with the son about J.’s age (who, incidentally, sounds exactly like J. when he screams). She won’t make eye contact when we pass, and pointedly ignored a party invitation from us. I’ve also heard, from behind a fence of a family who stares at us but never says hi, “Oh, that’s J.”

    And so sometimes we feel a bit the victims of a 21st-century shunning. In the larger context, however, these are small annoyances from small people. The chair of my department invites J. to her yard so he can play in her outdoor pool and lets him vocalize to her neighbors, who do not complain. A mini-gang of too-cool teen boys walks by our short fence after school and always greets J. sincerely, as he calls out adoringly, “Hi, hi, HIIIIIIIIII!” I am grateful that the cannabis has given J. the chance to get out and experience life. If it sometimes punches him back, it also offers him flowers.

    I don’t consider marijuana a miracle cure for autism. But as an amateur herbalist, I do consider it a wonderful, safe botanical that allows J. to participate more fully in life without the dangers and sometimes permanent side effects of pharmaceutical drugs; now that we have a good dose and a good strain. (“White Russian”—a favorite of cancer patients, who also need relief from extreme pain). Free from pain, J. can go to school and learn. And his violent behavior won’t put him in the local children’s psychiatric hospital—a scenario all too common among his peers.

    A friend whose child was once diagnosed with autism, but no longer (he attends school at his grade level and had three developmental assessments showing he no longer merits the diagnosis), wanted to embark on a kind of karmic mission to help other children. After extensive research, she landed on cannabis the way I had. “It has dramatic implications for the autism community,” she says, and it’s true. We have pictures of J. from a year ago when he would actually claw at his own face. None of the experts had a clue what to do. That little child with the horrifically bleeding and scabbed face looks to us now like a visitor from another world. The J. we know now doesn’t look stoned. He just looks like a happy little boy.

    And cannabis still can surprise us. We worried that “the munchies” would severely aggravate J.’s problems with overeating in response to his stomach pangs. Instead, the marijuana seems to have modulated these symptoms. Perhaps the pain signals from his stomach were coming through as hunger. J. still can get overexcited if he likes a food too much, so sometimes when he’s eating my husband and I leave the room to minimize distractions. The other day, we dared to experiment with doenjang, a fermented tofu soup that he used to love as a baby. The last time we tried it, a year ago, he’d frisbeed the bowl against a tile wall. (Oh, smelly doenjang soup and the million ways it can make a mess.)

    We left J. in the kitchen with his steamy bowl and went to the adjoining room. We waited. We heard the spoon ding against the bowl. Satisfied slurpy noises. Then a strange noise that we couldn’t identify. A chkka chkka chkkka bsssshhht doinnng! We returned to the kitchen, half expecting to see the walls painted with doenjang. Everything was clean. The bowl and spoon, however, were gone.

    J. had taken his dishes to the sink, rinsed them, and put them in the dishwasher—something we’d never shown him how to do, though he must have watched us do it a million times. In four months, he’d gone from a boy we couldn’t feed to a boy who could feed himself and clean up after. The sight of the bowl, not quite rinsed, but almost, was one of the sweetest sights of my parental life. I expect more to come.

    By Marie Myung-Ok Lee
    October 5, 2009
    Double X,0

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  1. RaverHippie
    That's wonderfully captivating.
  2. alaskazagnut
    Great story. The pharmaceutical companies are just as corrupt as the oil, alcohol, and cigarette companies, maybe more. They lobby to keep drugs scheduled and regulated so they can turn peoples suffering into guinea pigs and they make us buy synthetic substitutes with worse side effects. They do many good things however but they have developed into a government branch that only does what they are told.

    All cures are found growing naturally in our world right now. That is why they ban everything except "their" drugs. They want our money and they don't care who dies or who is in pain to get the money.

    The war on drugs is conspiracy at its worst. Makes all the others look like childsplay.
  3. sadskills1987
    wow, what an incredible idea. with autism on the rise, it is great to see people looking outside the box for solutions. swim was wondering what the risk assessment is for the child down the road though, will they have to take increasing doses due to tolerance? will it affect their further brain development? does it work as well for children at other parts of the autistic spectrum? every path requires a first step, hopefully this will lead to better understanding of the autistic neurochemistry and hopefully new and better cures through cannibinoids (as long as the government doesn't ruin it)
  4. alaskazagnut
    SWIM smoked weed for 15 years. Tolerance was only a temporary thing. Once the user got up to the threshold of being able to handle the good stuff, when it wore off,(usually after a great sleep), a wake n bake had the same effects for years and years.

    There is tolerance but not in the same way as most other drugs. You don't need to keep upping the dose to massive amounts that would kill a newbie. ThC has virtually zero physical dependance, it is mental tolerance to the euphoria that builds up because you get used to the effects over time and they don't feel as intense as the first time.

    An autistic child or cancer patient could care less about the euphoria therefore the physical effects will work indefinitely with only small increases in doseage.

    That is my friends opinion on this subject.
  5. enquirewithin
    The ultimate herbal remedy- Can cannabis improve autism?

    The debate over its risks has split political and scientific opinion in Britain. But American mother Marie Myung-Ok Lee says cannabis isn't only safe enough for her autistic son – it's dramatically improved his condition

    My son, J, has autism. He's also had two serious operations for a spinal cord tumour and has an inflammatory bowel condition, all of which may be causing him pain, if he could tell us. He can say words, but many of them – "duck in the water, duck in the water", for instance – don't convey what he means. For a time, anti-inflammatory medication seemed to control his pain. But in the last year, it stopped working. He began to bite and to smack the glasses off my face. If you were in that much pain, you'd probably want to hit someone, too.

    J's school called my husband and me in for a meeting about J's tantrums, which were affecting his ability to learn. The teachers were wearing Tae Kwon Do arm pads to protect themselves against his biting. Their solution was to hand us a list of child psychiatrists. As autistic children can't exactly do talk therapy, this meant using sedating, antipsychotic drugs like Risperdal.

    Last year, Risperdal was prescribed for more than 389,000 children in the US – 240,000 of them under the age of 12 – for bipolar disorder, ADHD, autism and other disorders. Yet the drug has never been tested for long-term safety in children and carries a severe warning of side-effects. From 2000 to 2004, Risperdal, or one of five other popular drugs also classified as "atypical antipsychotics", was the "primary suspect" in 45 paediatric deaths, according to a review of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data by USA Today. When I canvassed parents of autistic children who take Risperdal, I didn't hear a single story of an improvement that seemed worth the risks. A 2002 study on the use of Risperdal for autism, in The New England Journal of Medicine, showed moderate improvements in "autistic irritation" – but the study followed only 49 children over eight weeks, which limits the inferences that can be drawn from it.

    We met with J's doctor, who'd read the studies and agreed: No Risperdal or its kin. The school called us in again. What were we going to do, they asked. As an occasional health writer and blogger, I was intrigued when a homeopath suggested medical marijuana. Cannabis has long-documented effects as an analgesic and an anxiety modulator. Best of all, it is safe. The homeopath referred me to a publication by the Autism Research Institute describing cases of reduced aggression, with no permanent side- effects. Rats given 40 times the psychoactive level merely fall sleep. Dr Lester Grinspoon, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School who has been researching cannabis for 40 years, says he has yet to encounter a case of marijuana causing a death, even from lung cancer.

    A prescription drug called Marinol, which contains a synthetic cannabinoid, seemed mainstream enough to bring up with J's doctor. I cannot say that with a few little pills everything turned around. But after about a week of fiddling with the dosage, J began garnering a few glowing school reports: "J was a pleasure have in speech class," instead of "J had 300 aggressions today."

    But J tends to build tolerance to synthetics, and in a few months we could see the aggressive behaviour coming back. One night, I went to the meeting of a medical marijuana patient advocacy group on the campus of the college where I teach. The patients told me that Marinol couldn't compare to marijuana, the plant, which has at least 60 cannabinoids to Marinol's one.


    Rhode Island, where we live, is one of 13 states where the use of medical marijuana is legal. But I was resistant. My late father was an anaesthesiologist, and compared with the precise drugs he worked with, I know he would think marijuana to be ridiculously imprecise and unscientific. I looked at my son's tie-dye socks (his avowed favourite). At his school, I was already the weirdo mom who packed lunches with organic kale and kimchi and wouldn't let him eat any "fun" foods with artificial dyes. Now, I'd be the mom who shunned the standard operating procedure and gave her kid pot instead.

    I thought back to when J was 18 months old. We were vacationing on the Cape, and, although he just had the slightest hitch in his gait, I was sure there was something wrong. His paediatrician laughed. I called back repeatedly until a different doctor agreed to see us. J was taken in for emergency surgery, to remove a tumour that was on the verge of inflicting irreparable damage. Sometimes, you just have to go with your gut.

    And yet, I still hesitated. The Marinol had been disorienting enough – no protocol to follow, just trying varying numbers of pills and hoping for the best. Now we were dealing with an illegal drug, one for which few evidence-based scientific studies existed, precisely because it is an illegal drug. But when I sent J's doctor the physician's form that is mandatory for medical marijuana licensing, it came back signed. We underwent a background check with the Rhode Island Bureau of Criminal Identification, and J became the state's youngest licensee.

    Having a licence, however, is different from having access to marijuana. While California has a network of "compassion centres," basically pharmacy-like storefronts that provide quality product from registered growers, Rhode Island's Republican governor has consistently vetoed that idea, despite the local stories of frail patients being mugged in downtown Providence as they go in search of pot. We weren't about to purchase street marijuana, which could be contaminated with other drugs, so we looked into growing the pot ourselves. But by law, medical marijuana must be grown indoors, and it requires a separate room with a complex system of hydroponics, fans and precise lighting schedules. (This made me wonder how much THC, the main psychoactive substance found in cannabis, was actually in the spindly plants the high school goofballs I knew grew in their closets).

    The coordinator of our patient group introduced us to a licensed grower. A recent horticulture school graduate, he'd figured out how to cultivate marijuana using a custom organic soil mix. His e-mail signature even quoted Rudolf Steiner. The grower arrived at our house with a knapsack containing jars of herbs. We opened the jars to sniff the different strains of "bud" – Blueberry, which did smell fleetingly of wild blueberries, and Sour Diesel, which had a rich, winey scent. The grower had also cured some leaves for tea, and he brought a glycerine tincture, a marijuana distillate in olive oil (yes, organic), cookies (ditto), and a strange machine that looked, fittingly, like a lava lamp. Basically an almost-bong, this vaporiser heated the cannabis without producing carcinogenic smoke.

    For most adults, the vaporiser is the delivery method of choice, as it allows the patient to feel the effects immediately and adjust the dose precisely. J gamely put his mouth on the valve and let us squeeze a little smoke into him. It shot right back out of his nose. He looked like Puff the Magic Dragon. The grower left us with a month's worth of marijuana tea, glycerine, and olive oil – and a cookie recipe. No buds. We paid $80 (£50).

    We made the cookies with the marijuana olive oil, starting J off with half a small cookie, eaten after dinner. J normally goes to bed around 7.30pm; by 6.30 he declared he was tired and conked out. We checked on him hourly. As we anxiously peeked in, half-expecting some red-eyed ogre from Reefer Madness to come leaping out at us, we saw instead that he was sleeping peacefully. Usually, his sleep is shallow and restless. J also woke up happy.

    But in a few days, J decided he didn't like the cookie anymore and smashed it with his fist. We brewed him the tea, which smelled funky and grassy. He slurped it down, but it didn't seem to do much. Many of the psychoactive compounds in marijuana are fat soluble, so I added a dropperful of the oil that we used in the cookies. That made him sleepy-looking but still aggressive. It became clear that when J ingested pot orally, it took two hours to see the results, and by then there wasn't much we could do to dial the dose up or down. The grower visited us again to give J another try at the bong, but with little success.

    Perhaps J needed a little time to get off the Marinol. After two weeks, we noticed a slight but consistent lessening of aggression. And he wasn't nervously chewing holes in his shirts.


    A month or so into the treatment, it was still too early to know if we could find a dose and mode of delivery that would give us consistent results. Even if J could learn to use the vaporiser, it costs $600 and would leave the house reeking of pot. And we didn't want to get too dependent, because of the inherent limitations. Though we'd love to calm J with pot so that he can visit his grandmother in Minnesota, bringing a controlled substance on the plane isn't the best idea.

    But since we started him on his "special tea," J's little face, which is sometimes a mask of pain, has softened. He's smiled more. For most of the last year, his individual education plan at his special-needs school was full of blanks, recording "no progress" because he spent his whole day an irritated, frustrated mess. But soon after starting on the tea, his reports began to show real progress, including "two community outings with the absence of aggressions".

    My husband and I are both academics and writers (me, novelist and essayist; he, historian), given to close observation and note taking. It was these habits that finally helped us see our son's allergic sensitivity to certain foods and seek advice from a gastroenterologist for his behaviours – aggression and chronic diarrhoea – instead of the recommended psychiatrist. (Gut pain and digestive problems, coined as "autistic entercolitis", are now considered a common biological affliction of many autistic children).

    At first we weren't sure if we were seeing results from the cannabis, but after about three months, which included weekly consultations with our grower as we experimented with different strains, we observed a much happier and outgoing child – who did not act or appear "stoned" in any way. Four months in, J came home from school and I noticed something different. Pre-pot, J ate the collars of his shirts, teasing his clothes apart and swallowing the threads. There's a name for this disorder – pica (pregnant women sometimes chew on chalk). It got so bad he ate his pyjamas and we had to start dressing him in organic cotton shirts. Then one day he came home from school wearing a whole shirt.

    J's school reports improved too. At one parent meeting, his teacher produced the latest "aggression" chart, showing attempts or instances of hitting, kicking biting or pinching other people. For a year he had scored an average of 30 to 50 aggressions a day, with a high of 300. The latest data showed days, sometimes consecutive, with zero aggressions. And on the school bus, J has transformed from a child who has hit the driver in the face and bitten people into a sparkly eyed boy who says hi and quietly takes his seat.


    There's a twist to this happy story, though. The aggression has eased but J's autism has become more distinct. His vocal outbursts – screams, barks, yips of happiness – still happen and while our home is no longer full of thrown food, broken dishes and scratched faces, we still see people in the local area react to a family that remains different – and not always to their liking. There's a father on the next street who stops playing ball with his son when we approach. A mother won't make eye contact and ignored a party invitation. Most people responded well to J but sometimes we feel we're being shunned.

    Marijuana isn't a miracle cure for autism. But in our son's case it eases his pain and inflammation so dramatically that he can participate in life and learning again. It also protects him from the sometimes dangerous side-effects of pharmaceutical drugs. We have settled on a good strain (White Russian, a favourite pain-reliever for end-stage cancer patients) and a good dose. And now he's not in pain, J can go to school instead of a children's psychiatric hospital, where all too many of his peers end up as a result of violent behaviour.

    When I think of the embarrassment I may feel if my colleagues see this article, or teachers or parents at J's school, or his less open-minded doctors, I pause. Although I occasionally smoked pot as a teenager (believe me, in northern Minnesota, there was not much else to do), now that I'm a law-abiding adult, all the scary anti-drug messages are flashing in my brain. But when I researched cannabis the way I did conventional drugs, it seemed clear that marijuana wouldn't harm J, and might help. It's strange that the virtues of such a useful and harmless botanical have been so clouded by stigma. Even the limited studies that have been done suggest marijuana's potential as an adjunctive therapy for cancer. Marijuana, you need some re-branding. Maybe a cool new name.

    One of the biggest tests for J through this journey was a visit from Grandma. The last time she came, over Christmas, J hit her during a tantrum. This time, we gave him his tea, mixing it with goji berries to mask any odour, although it occurs to me that my mother, a Korean immigrant, probably doesn't even know what pot smells like (it actually smells a lot like ssuk, a Korean medicinal herb). She remarked that J seemed calmer. As we were preparing for a trip to the park, J disappeared, and we wondered if he was going to throw one of his tantrums. Instead, he returned with Grandma's shoes, laying them in front of her, even carefully adjusting them so that they were parallel and easy to step into. He looked into her face, and smiled.

    What are the downsides to this experiment?
    By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor

    The first reaction of most parents to Marie Myung-Ok Lee's story is likely to be one of surprise, shock, even horror. What is she doing turning her nine-year-old son into a pot-head? Has she not heard of the dangers of cannabis smoking to the mental health of adolescents, never mind the disorienting effects of an intoxicating substance on one so young?

    Possibly this will be their second and third reactions, too. Ms Myung-Ok Lee was giving her son, J, cannabis to relieve pain (from his spinal tumour and inflamed gut), not just to treat his autism. Even so, the stigma that surrounds illegal drugs is so deeply entrenched, just because they are illegal, that many people are simply not prepared to weigh up their benefits and harms.

    We have seen in the row this week over the sacking of the UK Government's chief drugs adviser, Professor David Nutt, how the debate over drugs is driven more by fear, emotion and political calculation than by scientific evidence. The Labour Government, facing possible annihilation at the next election, is anxious to be seen to be tough on drugs – so the outspoken Professor Nutt had to go.

    As an academic, Ms Myung-Ok Lee is perhaps better placed than many to resist the voices of unreason and take a cool look at the evidence. Cannabis, as she points out, is already prescribed as a pain killer, as an anti-nausea agent for cancer sufferers and as a treatment for multiple sclerosis. In all these areas it has been shown to be effective, though there is debate about just how effective. In the UK, it is available as Sativex, a spray taken under the tongue, which contains a cannabis extract. More than 1,200 patients in the UK have received it for relief of symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis. It is not, however, prescribed to nine-year-olds (or anyone under 18).

    Ms Myung-Ok Lee started her son on medicinal cannabis, and then went a step further by giving him the herbal kind, as a tincture or baked in a cookie. This, too, is not without precedent – among adults. There have been frequent reports of patients smoking cannabis and gaining relief from pain or the spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, and in the UK when they have been prosecuted for possession of a controlled drug, the courts have shown leniency.

    But in trying herbal cannabis on her son, Ms Myung-Ok Lee and her doctor have stepped beyond even the anecdotal evidence, into the unknown. J became Rhode Island's youngest ever patient licensed to use marijuana for medical reasons.

    She acknowledges it is an experiment, but she reasons that as cannabis has low toxicity and is safer than most other drugs, the risks are low. Any parent, confronted with a screaming, suffering child who is so distressed that he smashes things, hits people and tears at his clothing with his teeth, must feel sympathy for her. In that situation, which of us would not try anything to ease our child's pain? Moreover, the experiment appears to have worked – at least for the first few months.

    The difficult questions are: will the effect last? Will there be a downside to using the drug in one so young? Is the effect real? The last question is the trickiest. Children grow and change and those with autism are no different from the rest. The changes his parents have noticed in J might have happened anyway, as part of his natural development. The cannabis could turn out to be a coincidental factor, with zero impact on his condition. It was coincidence that led to the scare over MMR and autism – because the first symptoms of the condition typically occur around 14 months which is the age at which babies receive their first MMR jab.

    It would be a disaster if cannabis came to be seen as a panacea for children in the same situation, on the basis of this anecdotal report. As always in science, we need more evidence.

    Marie Myung-Ok Lee | Thursday, 5 November 2009
  6. chillinwill
  7. enquirewithin
    Re: The ultimate herbal remedy- Can cannabis improve autism?

    Thanks for pointing that out. I did search for the story but not well enough. It's not quite the same. Should I move this and then you delete the thread?
  8. chillinwill
    Re: The ultimate herbal remedy- Can cannabis improve autism?

    They are very similar stories but not quite the same. I would move them together though since they are both talking about giving marijuana to their child for autism.
  9. enquirewithin
    It's a moving story. I admire her courage. I would be dubious about giving a child cannabis, but this is a special case. I have some experience of working with autistic children and would guess that cannabis might make them more withdrawn but possibly more peaceful. I would think that it may be that cannabis is relieving his chronic pain (the use of cannabis for this purpose is very well documented) rather than his autism.

    Another article about this says:
  10. Lehendakari
    SWIM knows an autistic child that grew up with him. He was always respected and protected by the "badasses" of the school I don't know why exactly, but probably because of his violent outbursts. The kid, being autistic, couldn't care less for the people insulting him nor for the "cool" boys protecting him.

    When badasses grew older they started smoking hash and SWIM, still a good kid, often saw this autistic kid with them and he became later, a well-known pot head, even one of the badasses reported how bad he liked to smoke.

    Many years later he run into that weird kid turned into a not so weird man and they recognize each other and SWIM was pleasantly surprised he made a little gesture with his eyebrows, almost like a hello, and he looked to him directly in his eyes, which was something awesome for that guy who would only hit the table once in a while and he was always avoiding eye contact.

    He got information about this autistic kid and apparently he was still autistic on a certain degree, but he was taking guitar lessons and working for some kind of charity.
    SWIM ignores if he continues smoking
  11. enquirewithin
    Perhaps cannabis does really help autism, then. I can see that it might soothe anger. We need more research.
  12. theendperson
    At first I was shocked at giving weed to a kid untill I remebered prozac, rittalin etc! I would like to see some studies into its affects on children with autism who arent in chronic pain (however experimenting on children is very iffy, to say the least) as I do wonder if the improvement in the childs behaviour could be due to him being in less pain. As far as I know with autism (which addmittedly isnt much) they have great difficuly expressing themselves, I can see how an autistic child who cannot express that he is in pain could be more frustrated and act more aggressively.

    I would be worried about the cannabis exasabating his psychological condition (is it known what causes autism?)

    I would also like to have a little rant that as cannabis is a naturally occuring plant and cannot be trademarked I dont see this being widely accepted as a treatment as those who make the legislation are in the pharma companies pockets (ok I may not have any hard evidence lol). If it were to be used as a treatment I can see them waiting untill they make some more semi synthetic cannabinoids (Dronabinol etc)

    Rant over, hope it wasnt too off topic SWIM tends to rant when he is on mephedrone
  13. LysergicButterfly
    A person is born with Aspergers/Autism, basically how it works is that the neuron pathways in the brain grow to much in the wrong places, hence why people with the condition can't socialise but can paint or play music really well. I'm sure you've heard of The Rain Man.

    SWIMy partner has Aspergers (it is on the autism scale, slightly different but on the scale none the less) and she smokes Marijuana regularly and no difference in her condition has been noticed, infact she seems a lot more calm and sociable than when I met her 3 years ago.
  14. Sven99
    Swimmer would be curious to know what sort of doses we're talking in this case. Swimmer assumes that it would be a low dose, and that the kid isn't walking around stoned all the time.
  15. chillinwill
    Should Medical Marijuana Be Used to Treat Kids With Autism?

    With more and more children being diagnosed with autism, a search for a treatment is moving past traditional medicines. Now one focus is whether medical marijuana can be effective in curbing, easing or even reversing some of the by-products of autism.

    In some instances, autism can make children violent and aggressive. "Sam" is one of those children. The 10-year-old boy from Northern California would lash out with no provocation.

    "He got to the point where he was hurting other children, when he was in school, or in public places," his mother told KTLA News. "We'd be in line at the store, and he'd just bolt and hit another child in the face without any warning at all."

    Working with doctors, Sam was put on traditional medications such as Risperdal, which has massive weight gain as a side effect. Sam was still violent, but now 20 pounds heavier and stronger.

    After speaking with a medical cannabis doctor, the family decided to give marijuana a try. Sam's father grows it in the backyard, making the concentrated form commonly referred to as hash. Sam eats a speck of it hidden in a piece of fruit.

    "The first time we did it, we wanted to see if it would work at all," the father recalled. "It was an amazing experience, I'll never forget it, as we watched what happened, it was like 'He's back!' It was like all this anguish, pent-up rage and aggressiveness went away -- it just calmed him down."

    This is not the only success story. Marie Myung-Ok Lee of Rhode Island gives her autistic son cannabis tea and cookies made with marijuana-infused oil. Her 9-year-old son has aggression issues, stomach pain, and "pica," which means he eats non-edible items. But after taking his daily doses of medical marijuana, it all goes away. She writes on the website

    "Next, we started seeing changes in J.’s school reports. His curriculum is based on a therapy called Applied Behavioral Analysis, which involves, as the name implies, meticulous analysis of data. At one parent meeting in August (J. is on an extended school year), his teacher excitedly presented his June-July “aggression” chart. An aggression is defined as any attempt or instance of hitting, kicking, biting, or pinching another person. For the past year, he’d consistently had 30 to 50 aggressions in a school day, with a one-time high of 300. The charts for June through July, by contrast, showed he was actually having days—sometimes one after another—with zero aggressions."

    There are similar stories from many parents. But the big question remains: Is it really safe to give medical marijuana to children? Los Angeles-area pediatrician Chris Tolcher said we just don't know enough yet to give an answer.

    "I think for all the parents out there whose children may have autism," Tolcher says, "The message here is that this is intriguing information that needs more research before we can confidently say that marijuana is a safe and effective treatment for autism complications."

    But consider this from Dr. Bernard Rimland of the Autism Research Institute in San Diego:

    "I stress that I am strongly opposed to drugs in general, and consider them a last resort to be employed only when safer and more efficacious treatments fail. But while I am not 'pro-drug,' I am very much 'pro-safe and effective treatment,' especially in cases where an autistic individual’s behaviors are dangerous or destructive. Early evidence suggests that in such cases, medical marijuana may be a beneficial treatment, as well as being less harmful than the drugs that doctors routinely prescribe."

    November 17, 2009
    Opposing Views
  16. jesuislapiped'unauteur
    Interesting, I'm not surprised that weed calms his condition down a bit, I guess thats why they made all the loons in 1950s American mental hospitals smoke cigarettes. I guess the only real risk from green is psychosis, but he's autistic, so I doubt it would do much damage.
  17. Kittty
    what am amazing story. I think that marijuana makes me handle situations less emotionally. It makes me cry less and think less selfishly. I always smoke it if i am about to bring up something to someone that will most likely end up to be a argument or fight. I like how it puts your emotions on a level playing field. This idea that cannabis is good for autism kids is genius i wish more people agreed with the controversial topic
  18. undermywheels
    Hmm interesting story. Swims experience with autistic people is vast (my brother is severly autistc, i lived with him for 18 years, have also helped out at schools and schemes for ausitsm sufferes, I have been in contact with the disability almost every day of my life since the age of three) and i do not believe that the results mentioned in the O.P would be true for the majority of people with autsim. As pointed out in other posts it is probably just getting rid of the childs suffering from pain, which is making him less agressive and generally happier. Autistic people find it very hard to communicate and make there feelings apparent to others, which leads to frustration and not being able to make what they want/need/feel known, so they are frequently viiolent and lash out towards others, and hurt themselves. To put substances in the mix that will just cloud what little spectrum they have for communication anyway would just lead to a vicious circle of more upset and frustration. Another example of this was at one point the government had my brother on a cocktail of very strong sedatives to try and take away his agression and so that he went to sleep at a reasonable time (at this point he was staying awake til 3/4 in the morning every night, waiting for my mum and dad to sleep and going downstairs and trashing the house/rading all the munch in the kitchen :) ) This however did not help and just made my brother more confused, and over time his agression got a little less frequent but far more volatile when he did act up.

    Whilst i am happy it is making the couple life and there sons more fulfilling, I can't see it working for the majority of autism sufferers.


    Aspergers syndrome and autism ARE NOT the same thing. They are classed on the same spectrum, with aspergers syndrome being one end and severe autism being the other. This is wrong.
    People with aspergers syndrome require much different types of care, attention and treatment than people with autism, and vice versa. It is a mistake of wrong association by the medical community that leads to suffferes of both disabilitys not being assesed as individual disabilitys, which often leads to people being unable to get the care they deserve because of people thinking they are one and the same/very similar.
  19. Dan_drone
    Swim has a slightly autistic friend , who has the kind of autism where he just finds it incredibly hard to talk to stranger , shys away from social situations and cannot make eye contact (swim is not very well informed on the various types of autism) Whenever he smokes weed he seems to come out of his shell a lot , and he will speak to strangers , make eye contact and laugh to a stupid degree. it seems strange to him that pot would make him do this , as personally it makes swim autistic for a short period of time , he just wants to zone out and go into his own bubble. It was interesting coming across this article , as swim can relate to it with my friend , thanks for posting
  20. sandoz1943
    Mother love and nature to the rescue!
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