First Graders Possess Medical Marijuana Cards

Medical marijuana card

An example of an Oregon State medical marijuana card.

Written by: Jason Garoutte

No. That’s not a typo. Parents with children diagnosed with disorders and diseases like autism or leukemia are becoming more open to non-traditional treatments such as medical marijuana. There are currently 58 children in the state of Oregon who are covered under the state medical marijuana law which allows them use of the so called “gateway drug.”

All of us have probably heard the terms leukemia and autism before, but do we fully understand what challenges parents are faced with day in and day out with such disorders? Autism is a brain disorder that often makes it difficult to communicate with and relate to others. With autism, the different areas of the brain fail to work together. This leads to anti-social behavior, repeated types of behavior like body rocking, and becoming upset when routines change.

With one in every 88 children diagnosed with autism in the United States, more parents are searching for answers and treatments that work. One problem with autism is that there is no typical case. People can have many different types of behavior, from mild to severe. In nearly one in three cases, children with autism experience seizures or seizure disorders such as epilepsy.

Although marijuana is not currently considered a treatment for autism by the medical profession, it is considered a treatment for seizures and mood altering behavior. So, what makes medical marijuana a safe treatment for children over the more traditional treatments?

The active chemical in marijuana is called THC(Tetrahydrocannabinol.) This is what gives marijuana its medical properties. In essence, the human body produces receptors that bind with THC, interfering with the brains neurotransmitter systems. This allows the recipient to feel various effects, such as reducing pain, limiting seizures, and lowering anxiety. In cancer patients, marijuana has been shown to reduce nausea and increase appetite, after receiving chemotherapy,

“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the use of scientifically validated treatments. The use of medical marijuana to treat autism has not been tested and could be dangerous for children,” says Susan Martin, director of media relations at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Although long term effects from marijuana have yet to be determined, using marijuana at such a young age may be detrimental to the child’s brain growth and development.

Traditional treatments for autism include special behavior training, speech therapy, physical therapy, and FDA approved drugs. Melatonin and Chelation are widely used, legal treatments for autism, where medical marijuana is only legal in 18 states.

There are many traditional treatments available to parents for children with these disorders that are safe, legal, and readily available across the nation. However, as a parent when you are faced with the challenges of raising a child with special needs, you may find yourself weighing the possible long term effects against the apparent short term benefits of non-traditional treatment, even if it involves allowing your child access to a medical marijuana card.

David Wilkins Studies Relationship Between Facial Emotions and Autism

Autism Ribbon for Awareness

Stanford researcher David Wilkins is interested in how facial emotions could be employed to help individuals with autism. He studies artists, actors and psychologists to find out how to train people to better recognize subtle emotional expressions. His careful dissections of portrait-drawing techniques, facial mimicry and emotional memory techniques, and the techniques of micro-expression and subtle expression recognition, have led the lecturer toward the fundamentals of human communication.

To Wilkins, who is a part of Stanford’s Symbolic Systems Program, distinguishes happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, disgust and contempt as of the greatest significance to human communication. Autistic individuals are fifty percent less likely to distinguish the emotional indications of facial expression, which may adversely interrupt the individuals interpersonal interactions.

Wilkins and his team are designing experiments that they intend to benefit autism. By assessing the efficacy of several different kinds of art, acting and psychological techniques, the scientists hope to discover one that results in a significant improvement in facial emotion recognition. Since people with autism are generally fifty percent less likely to recognize someone’s emotional state through their facial expressions, their successful participation in society depends on increasing their facial-emotional cognitive abilities.

Autism is noticeable in early childhood

A grant from the Stanford Institute for Creativity in the Arts and the Symbolic Systems Program in the School of Humanities and Sciences have made this all possible; with their help, hopefully Wilkins will achieve his noble cause.

Autism Speaks Pushes Need for Autism Awareness Into Public Spotlight

Autism Speaks is currently the largest nonprofit organization in the U.S. providing resources for individuals and families of individuals affected by autism spectrum disorders.

In less than five years after its founding in 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright, Autism Speaks has grown to become the largest organization for autism advocacy in the United States.  The efforts of Autism Speaks have made unprecedented progress in raising awareness and funding for autism research, and in providing support for families of individuals affected by autism spectrum disorders.

To this day, autism remains a condition of which the causes are yet undetermined.  It is estimated that between 1 and 1.5 million people in the United States are affected by an autism spectrum disorder; 1 in every 110 born affected.  Autism is currently the most-rapidly growing developmental disability, at an estimated figure of 10 to 17 percent annual growth.  Autism Speaks has been largely successful in raising awareness of this disorder through popular media, appearing on television programs such as Access Hollywood, The View, The Apprentice, and The Big Idea With Donny Deutsch.

Within its first year alone, Autism Speaks raised a record $40 million from donations and fundraisers—including “One Night Only: Concert for Autism Speaks” at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles with Paul Simon and Jerry Seinfeld, the L.A. Celebrity Golf Challenge and the N.Y. Celebrity Golf Challenge—toward autism research.

Since its inception, Autism Speaks has merged with the Autism Coalition for Research and Education and with the National Alliance for Autism Research, and has formed chapters throughout the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom to create an accessible and effective resource for the benefit of individuals and families of individuals affected by autism spectrum disorders.  You can help by making a donation, participating in fundraising events in your local community—such as Walk Now for Autism—or by hosting your own fundraiser.

Autism Bridges Maui Seeks Autism Resources from U.S. Mainland

Autism Bridges Maui holds a biannual surf camp for special needs children at Launiupoko Beach on the island of Maui in which families can also participate.

Autism Bridges Maui is a grassroots non-profit organization founded with the goal of providing support and services to individuals affected by autism spectrum disorders, education for families of affected individuals, and raising awareness within the general community.

Due to its isolated location, there are limited resources on the island of Maui to provide professional support for the nearly 200 school-aged children in Maui County affected by autism spectrum disorders.  Autism Bridges Maui seeks to bring additional professional resources from the U.S. mainland to assist with the struggles of affected individuals and families.

Autism Bridges Maui provides services ranging from their Family Support Group to their Resource Library—dedicated to helping educate those affected discover more effective approaches in living with autism spectrum disorders—as well as the Seminar/Conference Reimbursement Program, which provides assistance to families in financial need to allow them to attend educational trainings, seminars, and conferences. Additionally, Autism Bridges Maui holds a Surf Camp bi-annually for special needs children with the help of trained volunteers in which families can take part as well.

Services provided by Autism Bridges Maui are made possible through fundraising and tax-deductible donations, and with through help of committed volunteers.  In November of 2007, Capricorn Events and Wailea Marriot Resort and Spa joined forces in a fundraiser in which a percentage of their luau admission fee was donated to Autism Bridges Maui, which in turn was matched by Marriott Maui Ocean Club.

Another recent success was “Artists for Autism” hosted by Jacques Restaurant in Paia in April of 2008, in which Autism Bridges Maui was the recipient of a percentage of the proceeds.

You can help by making a financial donation, donate books to the Resource Library, or sign up to volunteer as an individual or with a group through the Autism Bridges Maui website.