Medical Cannabis for Autistic Children can soon be a Reality

Over the years, autism has emerged as a challenge to the mental well being of children in the United States. Increasing cases pertaining to the diagnosis of children with autism has prompted the concerned department of the country to take effective steps subsequently in order to meet the challenge.

In line with the efforts to normalize the lives of autistic patients, the Minnesota Department of Health is considering the possibility of putting autism on the list of conditions wherein medical cannabis can be prescribed to the patients, according to a report. This would serve those families in which one or more members are patients with the lifelong neurological disorder.

Autism and its Causes

Rigorous research on autism in recent years has suggested that it generally affects children who belong to the 1-3 year age group. After the onset, it escalates into a chronic developmental disorder, affecting a patient with varying degrees of severity.

Though the actual cause of autism is still being studied, researchers have been able to identify certain factors such as environmental triggers, natal factors etc. that contribute to the changes to genes or cause mutations. They are also studying the role of immune system in connection with autism.

Based on the behavioral patterns, and symptoms shown by autistic children, they are categorized under three conditions, which constitute autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In terms of behavioral pattern, autistic children are distinct from one another. In other words, no two autistic children show same behavior pattern.

The symptoms, including behavior patterns, displayed by autistic children were previously thought to be different from one another. However, after the recent revision by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013, they are categorized under one of the three conditions namely, asperger syndrome, autistic disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder (not otherwise specified) PDD (NOS).

At present, medical cannabis can be administered only for Tourette in Minnesota. The DOH is planning to expand the list by adding autism to it. However, the lack of any concrete evidence to vindicate that it is helpful in the treatment of autism presents a challenge to it.

How Autism Affects One’s Behavior

Autism changes the way the brain processes information while it functions normally. In the process, it also alters the manner in which one sees the outside world. This means autistic children see the world from a different dimension, which puts them in a vulnerable position with regard to communication, behavior, and social life.

The medical cannabis review panel of Minnesota will publish a report on health benefits as well as risks in connection with proposed medical conditions by November 1. According to a statement issued by DOH, they will be able to comment on proposals only after its implementation.

The director of the Autism Society in Minnesota, Jonah Weinberg, believes the decision should be made only after careful thinking and consideration, taking into account the risks involved in doing so. He has stressed on the fact that more evidence is needed to lend credence to the claims that it indeed helps in improving the lives of patients with autism. He believes this will facilitate in making a concrete decision on whether to include it on the list of medical conditions for medical cannabis or not.

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