Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder characterized by difficulty with communication and social skills and repetitive behaviors. We use “autism” as a catchall to refer to a range of symptoms people might experience in isolation or in combination with one another. Autism is often diagnosed within the first few years of life, when babies and toddlers are developing speech and thinking skills and learning to move on their own. The majority of kids diagnosed with autism are boys, who are four times more likely to receive the diagnosis than girls.
We’re not sure what exactly causes ASD, but research suggests it’s primarily genetics combined with environmental factors. Risk factors include low birth weight, older parents, and having a sibling with ASD. Autism is sometimes associated with other conditions, too — as many as 61 percent of kids with autism are also diagnosed with ADHD, and they’re nearly eight times more likely to have one or more chronic gastrointestinal disorders than other children.
Because ASD shows up differently in every person, treatment should be tailored to meet each person’s individual needs. This likely includes applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy, and sometimes other behavioral, speech, and occupational supports. Several studies are being done on the impact of cannabis on autism and its symptoms, but the plant has already been shown to help with chronic seizures (about one-third of people with autism also have epilepsy). CBD is also known for decreasing inflammation, and several studies have revealed a connection between neuroinflammation and autism. cannabisMD will keep you updated on the growing body of research on ASD treatment and cannabis.