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Everything You Need to Know About Autism and Cannabis

The Autistic Spectrum: Everything You Need to Know About Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental based disability that originates within the brain. Similar to ADHD/ADD it stops the people who have it from engaging and communicating in what would be considered normal social interactions. People with autism usually do not interact well with others especially if they are not familiar with them. In 2012 according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) one in every 68 children (1.5 percent) in the United States were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

What Is the Autism Spectrum?
The autistic spectrum is made up of four of the following disorders:

  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)
  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)
  • Asperger’s Syndrome
  • Autistic Disorder (Autism)

Primary Impairments Caused by Autism Spectrum Disorder
According to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) the two primary impairments causes by the ASD are:

  • Impairment in social communication and interaction
  • Restrictive, repetitive patterns of behavior (RRB)

Both of these impairments have different levels of severeness that those who care for or deal with people with autism should be aware of.

  1. Level 1 The person(s) will require support to interact with others and to plan and organise themselves.
  2. Level 2 The person(s) will require more support than usual. The person may be active but mostly on their own in specific circumstances.
  3. Level 3 The person(s) will require considerable support due to speech difficulties and lack on nonverbal (body language) to go on. Changing patterns or try integrate them with others can be very difficult and almost a pointless endeavor.

If the signs of RRB are not present then the individual is more likely to have a social communication disorder. If brain development is restricted at an early age this can have a knock on effect on their communications skills both nonverbal and verbal. This would obviously have a further knock on effect on the individuals education because as a results they cannot learn or ask for help to improve how they learn.

Behavioral problems are common particularly in young children. In early childhood a person with ASD may not understand how social situations change i.e. from being informal and playful to formal and respectful. This behavior can present itself when someone may be loud, avoid eye contact or make theatrical facial expressions at a formal event such as funeral to provide an extreme example.

People with ASD can also become anxious when their routine is changed. According to The Autism Society people with ASD will also show

erratic sleep patterns, display unusual eating habits, engage in self-injurious or aggressive or hyperactive behaviour, exhibit an unusual posture or gait and have irrational fears or phobias.

The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention explores novel autism research. Though there is still no cure the disorder is well-managed with treatments and available therapies.

Autism and Medical Cannabis

Conventional treatments for severe autism have high side effect ratios. Many parents who have autistic children are now advocating for the legalization of medical marijuana to help treat some of the symptoms of autism. There have been promising studies that show medical cannabis can ease severe forms of autism and offer patients relief.

There is also an upcoming study at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. It will examine the benefits of medical marijuana for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The study is in partnership with and being funded by an Australian biopharmaceutical company called Zelda Therapeutics.

In the past, children with autism were assumed to be undisciplined and troubled. At one point in history it was even believed that children with autism were possessed by evil spirits. The shame and stigma experienced by parents and siblings of autistic children was disgraceful. Those suffering from the disorder themselves had no hope of leading an full and enjoyable life. Thankfully, that is no longer the case.

If you or a loved one may be undiagnosed but be on the spectrum, speak to your doctor or a healthcare professional. Autism may seem like the end of the world, but our understanding of the disorder has deepened significantly in recent years. As a result, treatments have improved leaps and bounds, and the quality of life of those suffering with autism is higher than ever.

Editorial Staff

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