Autism has an incredible amount variation within it’s own diagnostic bounds and there can be a higher than normal prevalences of some other medical conditions within autistic populations. To add to this complexity, many parents and clinicians alike are more interested in treating the anxiety and aggression that often accompany autism than in treating the core symtoms (or deficits) of autism itself. To give an example, the single prospective case study from Kurz concerns itself with hyperactivity, lethargy, irritability, stereotypy and inappropriate speech. Only the last two of the five are actually core symptoms of autism, and not all autistic people have these two symptoms themselves (although all five symptoms are very common).
This amounts to a lot of work for a research team who are trying to show that something works, and is safe, as medicine for autism. By comparison, it’s relatively easy for the individual parent to see whether or not a medicine is useful for their own child.
Epilepsy, on the other hand, is relatively straightforward when it comes to conducting medical trials, at least compared to autism.
As luck would have it, GW Pharmaceuticals in the UK are currently trialling a cannabis-extract based medicine for epilepsy and they are particularly interested in helping juvenile populations.
Those of you who have, or have a child with, both autism and epilepsy will probably already be aware that existing epilepsy drugs can be ineffective or even dangerous for autistic people and you may even be aware that pure THC carries a slight increased risk of adverse reactions when compared with a mix of THC/CBD or a whole cannabis plant extract.
So assuming you or your child are not ex-alcoholics or religious objectors, you could be treating your epilepsy with Sativex (Nabiximols) by the end of 2012, and letting us all know how it affects the symptoms of autism too.
With a prevalence of 5% to 38% for epilepsy with autism, we can get an awful lot of useful feedback on ‘Cannabis for Autism’ before it’s ever actually trialled.
The important thing is to realise just how unbelievably safe herbal cannabis is as a medicine. It would be very disappointing if cannabis as epilepsy treatment was contraindicated against autism. We must keep an ear to the ground and be ready to fight against any such rulings that might come up.
In case you’re wondering, yes, cannabis does with help the many of the digestion issues experienced by many autistic people, but there’s no proof. If food is more complicated for you, then there’s that too.
Click here for a shocking report on legal mistreatment of a man who suffers from epilepsy.