Long before my daughter’s autism diagnosis we struggled with her moods. Her tantrums were far more severe than the typical toddler. Her everyday frustrations led to banging her head on the walls. And saying no to any request could result in the requested item being launched across the room. Knowing she would grow bigger, stronger and full of hormones made me very concerned for our future.
By grade school those behaviours got in the way of her daily functioning enough for us to begin exploring medications. Knowing full well that medications can lose their effectiveness over time and in many cases other medications need to be added on we tried a conservative approach. Our “low and slow” plan worked until puberty hit and we had to get more serious about medications in order to keep everyone safe and under the same roof.
Because I know someone out there is getting ready to comment about this, yes we did try all of the natural approaches. We saw DAN doctors and removed gluten and dairy and spent half my salary on supplements. But we reached a point many families do where these approaches weren’t effective enough for what we were experiencing. We turned to medication once again and the need for it escalated right along with her behaviours.
I’m sure you can imagine what came next. We found ourselves in a place where one medication was used to help another medication and then another medication was added to counteract side effects of that and when we took something away things hit the fan (sometimes literally). We reached a point where I wanted to move to a deserted island, take her off all of her meds slowly and see if we could get back the person she was years before trying any medications at all.
And then our state legalized medical marijuana for the treatment of autism.
I spent a lot of time researching this but found little on where to go for actual medical treatment and advice. Once I started letting people know this was something we were exploring I was quickly introduced to other autism parents who were having great success. The longest part of the process for us was finding a doctor who was an expert in treating autism with medical marijuana. I did not want to just find any doctor willing to write us a prescription for a medical marijuana card, I wanted a doctor who could provide guidance in what my daughter needed and how to proceed. After trial, error and appointments at offices where the physicians never even showed up, we found an expert nearby that had been working with kids with autism all over the country. One appointment with him and things moved quickly forward.
My daughter began a protocol of a combination of CBD and THC oil drops that she takes twice daily. We saw some calming effects immediately but nothing to cause me to celebrate the successes of medical marijuana. Over time though I started noticing cognitive gains I hadn’t expected. Family members and teachers would mention things like “Did you notice that she doesn’t forget her keys anymore?” “She came to class prepared and quickly adjusted to an unexpected change.” An ability to plan for events and prepare herself flourished. She had never had this skill before. In the past she would not charge her mobile phone in anticipation of the battery dying. The battery would die and she would have a meltdown because she couldn’t make a phone call. Now she is able to think forward and prepare accordingly. It’s been an amazing, unexpected change in her development.
We are coming up on a year since my daughter began medical marijuana. She has reduced her medications by half, all of her bloodwork has shown a return to normal, healthy levels and we continue to experience surprises in her cognition. I look forward to what our future holds. With a child on the autism spectrum who is no longer a child anymore I assumed our days of passing developmental milestones were nearly complete. Thanks to medical marijuana, I’m looking forward to seeing what milestone she might pass by next in the weeks to come.