Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects people in different ways, and no two cases are identical. Cases are more or less complex, and they are generally defined by level of functioning (open a window for further reading:)
Symptoms of ASD can generally be identified at an early stage of an infant’s life. Although every case of ASD presents in a different way, it is generally characterized by challenges affecting social skills, difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication, repetitive behaviors, poor motor skills and prominent sensory sensitivities.
Since each person diagnosed with ASD has different needs depending on their individual strengths and weaknesses, there is no specific treatment for the condition, but there is general agreement that early diagnosis and treatment lead to the most positive outcomes.
The latest data from the National Insurance Institute about recipients of child disability benefit for autism/ PDD (pervasive development disorder – which does not necessarily include all patients diagnosed with autism) indicate that the benefit is received at a rate of about once per every 187 births (from the Ministry of Health website).
There are several disorders often found in children diagnosed with autism:
- About half suffer from chronic sleep disorders
- They have 8 times as many problems of the digestive system as other children
- About a third of them have epilepsy
- 4-35% suffer from schizophrenia (compared to 1.1% of the general population).
According to the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, the total economic costs of treating autism in America reached 268 billion dollars in 2015, and this could rise to 461 billion dollars by 2025. These astounding figures are made worse by the fact that most adults with autism struggle to find work – almost half of people aged 25 who suffer from autism have never had paid work. The search for an effective and inexpensive treatment is therefore a social, human, and economic necessity.
It has recently been shown that CBD-rich cannabis is effective for children with autism.
In 2019, Lihi Bar-Lev Shleider, Tikun Olam’s head researcher, Professor Raphael Mechoulam, chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee and discoverer of the active substance in cannabis, Prof. Victor Novack, head of the Center for Clinical Trials and head of the Research Authority at Soroka Hospital, and Na’ama Saban, Tikun Olam’s head nurse who specializes in medical cannabis treatments for children, conducted a study in collaboration with Soroka Medical Center and Ben Gurion University to examine the effectiveness and safety of CBD-rich oil for patients with autism.
The study involved 188 children with ASD, and the results were groundbreaking with respect to treatment for this population:
- Significant improvement in a large number of symptoms linked to ASD, including seizures (100%), tics (100%), depression (100%), restlessness (89.8%), anger attacks (89%), anxiety (88.8%), digestive problems (62.5%), constipation (62.5%), sleep problems (58.6%), etc.
- Significant improvement in quality of life – before starting the treatment only 31.1% of patients reported a good quality of life, but after six months of treatment, this proportion rose to 66.8%.
- Improvement in daily activities – patients reported better sleep and mood, and improvements in their ability to dress and shower independently.
- General reduction in use of medicines – 34.3% of patients decreased their use of medicines, including anti-psychotic and anti-seizure drugs, antidepressants, and tranquillizers.
- Reduction in use of anti-psychotic medication – 20.0% of patients who were taking anti-psychotic drugs before starting treatment with cannabis stopped taking them during the first six months of treatment.
According to this study, 30% CBD Avidekel oil is safe for the treatment of ASD sufferers and is an effective option for the relief of ASD symptoms.