Autism is a condition that affects an individual’s ability, both to communicate and understand. This means that the forming of relationships can be difficult due to lack of social understanding.
This may take the form of not knowing how to act in social situations, not recognising tones of voice or even understanding facial expressions in a way that most people find natural. Learning disabilities will vary in each individual across the autistic spectrum and we are still learning more about Autism.
Did you know that there are around 700,000 people in the UK living with autism? That’s more than 1 in 100 people.
With that in mind, the things I’m going to cover today are:
- What Is Autism?
- How Does Cannabis help?
- What Are The Treatments?
- Future Of Cannabis and Autism
What Is Autism?
Autism is a complex life-long mental condition. Making it difficult to regulate emotions and can also affect motor skills. The range of the spectrum is so broad that you will find everyone will have different aspects of the condition that may affect them better or worse.
People with autism can be born completely mute and could spend years without really saying a word, communicating instead using noises or simple sign language. All the misfiring communications are what can lead to things like being mute, social awkwardness & misunderstanding, which is when all emotions going off can lead to a meltdown.
Autism.org.uk describes a meltdown as “‘an intense response to overwhelming situations’. It happens when someone becomes completely overwhelmed by their current situation and temporarily loses behavioural control. This loss of control can be expressed verbally (eg shouting, screaming, crying), physically (eg kicking, lashing out, biting) or in both ways.”
The symptoms of a meltdown can include;
- Angry mumbling
- Verbal/physical abuse
This video from the National Autistic Society shows sensory overload leading to a meltdown in a young boy:
Asperger’s syndrome is a form of autism that is classed as high-functioning. This means that people with Asperger’s are more able to develop speech and other aspects of the condition more easily than full autism.
Autism.org.uk says that “People with Asperger syndrome are of average or above average intelligence. They do not usually have the learning disabilities that many autistic people have, but they may have specific learning difficulties. They have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing language.”
This means that other symptoms on the autistic spectrum are the same and can be just as difficult to cope with. I myself have a lot of issues with my meltdowns. Which can often lead to some form of self-harm.
Cannabis and Autism
How does Cannabis Help?
In recent years, many parents or families have turned to using cannabis oil to treat their children’s condition. Seeing, reading or hearing such stories of success on such a wide variety of conditions and diseases, would probably have been one of the main reasons for a lot of parents to try cannabis oil.
There are many positive stories out there, e.g mute children gaining the ability to speak, better communication and fewer meltdowns.
Studies have also shown cannabis to help the autistic condition. A study I read concluded that THC was able to redirect the misfiring communications in the brain. This made emotional, communication and motor functions more manageable.
CBD is another compound of cannabis that has shown promise in autism. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive, but it does have recognised medical properties.
I have found that CBD treatment can be used to treat ASD (autistic spectrum disorder). Because CBD is non-psychoactive it might be a good option to treat both younger patients and individuals with milder symptoms of ASD. In more severe cases THC may have to be introduced. Effective ratios and doses of THC to CBD will vary for everyone.
Many people have reported that using cannabis has helped in reducing meltdowns, in both children and adults. Meltdowns can be difficult to stop, so a higher ratio of THC to CBD is needed. The calming effects of the cannabis and with THC redirecting the misfiring autistic brain cells, the individual is able to be calmed within minutes and then will usually calm even more as they become more able to control emotions and motor functions once the effects of the cannabis kick in.
My personal experience with meltdowns has been very hectic all my life. The older I’ve got, the stronger and abler I’ve become. I can have extreme reactions to things I don’t like which can lead to full on meltdowns and cause me self-injury quite often.
My brain and body will be racing with anger and adrenaline, and I can just do things as quick as I can think them. Or sometimes I’m just not thinking and just doing, which can be dangerous for me and potentially others.
Using cannabis, I quickly noticed my symptoms becoming much more manageable. My temper and meltdowns seemed to fade away, which was an amazing thing for me at 16. I had had no idea that cannabis would be so beneficial to my condition.
For the first time in my life, my head wasn’t racing, I didn’t mind being out and about, I wasn’t depressed or anxious and wasn’t feeling tense and angry all the time.
One thing I have learned is that I can use a light THC strain or even just CBD when I’m generally feeling ok or having mild symptoms. However, if my condition flares up or I begin having a big meltdown, a strong Indica strain is what I’ll need to be able to stop my symptoms. Traditional medicines don’t seem to help with this.
What are the Treatments?
There are currently no pharmaceutical medicines for autism itself (just to manage symptoms like depression, anxiety etc). However, I have found benefit in using cannabis to treat my condition.
With a diverse range of extraction methods and plenty of ways of ingesting cannabis, there are plenty of ways to ‘get your medicine’ if using cannabis to treat autism.
So what forms of cannabis can be used to treat autism?
Cannabis and Autism : Self Treatments
Cannabis Concentrates are also good to use but are much higher in THC content. Although quicker than rolling, much less is needed due to higher concentration.
Another popular method now is cannabis caps, which can be easily made at home using decarboxylated plant matter and coconut oil. These are digested, so typically take a bit longer to kick in.
Using a Vaporiser
Using a vaporiser or vape pen is considered a healthier way to consume your medicine than smoking it.
CBD treatments are considered fine for both children and adults. CBD is non-psychoactive and non-toxic. THC is also non-toxic, but it is the psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. CBD comes in many different forms.
You can consume CBD sublingually (under the tongue), Which is an easy way to take your medicine. You can also buy mouth sprays, transdermal patches and e-liquids which are also good ways to get CBD into your endocannabinoid system. There are even CBD crystals which can be up to 99.6 % pure, and these can be vaped. There are also many
There are also many hemp oil products which come in the form droplets, sprays etc; They also have hemp CBD teabags, cookies, sweets – lots of things are on offer!
Future of Cannabis and Autism
While Autism has no cure, the future looks bright with cannabis treatments for autism on the horizon. Plenty of people with autism are already self-medicating with cannabis.
GW pharmaceuticals is currently coming to the end of stage 1 trials using the specific compound of CBDv. CANNABIDIVARIN. An is already quoted as showing great promise. Trials are hoping to finish mid-2017.
More research needs to be done worldwide and more government funded programmes for autism, but the need for research into cannabis as a medicine needs to also be done as it could be a shining hope for people living with autism.
Israel is leading the way into full research and trials for whole plant cannabis medicines as well as CBD medicines. It could be very promising for the future of AUTISM and CANNABIS. We will keep you updated!
About The Author
Laurance is 30 and has a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. Diagnosed at 14, he tried traditional medicines to help cope with his condition, but with no luck. At 16 Laurance tried cannabis and noticed very quickly that a lot of his symptoms became much easier to deal with or basically disappeared.
Since then Laurance has been a medical cannabis user. He runs a facebook page Canneducate where he discusses living with Autism, cannabis treatment and CBD. Cannabis and Autism is his debut feature for ISMOKE Magazine!
Are you living with Autism and using cannabis to self-medicate? Let us know your story – write to us: [email protected]