Is Cannabis Effective in Treating Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
Brain development is linked to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It affects how a person interprets sensory input and forms relationships with others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that over 75,000,000 people worldwide—or about 1% of the total population—have autism spectrum disorder.
According to some studies, cannabis may have an impact on particular ASD traits. The efficacy and safety of cannabis for people with ASD are unclear, according to experts, and more extensive human trials are required to address this. Here, we look at the data surrounding ASD and see if cannabis holds any real promise.
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Autism Spectrum Disorder: What Is It?
People with autism spectrum disorder have difficulty interacting with others and communicating with them. People with autism may:
- Encounter issues when interacting and communicating with others.
- Struggle to comprehend the thoughts or feelings of others.
- Encounter sensory confrontations like bright lights or loud noises and feel overwhelmed and uneasy.
- Feel anxious or stressed when circumstances are unfamiliar or unexpected, such as social situations.
- Require more information to be explained, taking longer to understand.
- Act in predictable ways; repeatedly do the same thing or think the same thing.
Autism Is Different for Everyone
Autism is not considered to be a disease or illness. A good or fulfilling life is not necessarily impossible for someone who is autistic. Autistic people, like everyone else, have strengths and weaknesses. Autism affects people differently. At its most severe, autism can be completely incapacitating. Some autistic people are intelligent on par with the general population, while others are intelligently gifted. Others may require daily assistance, while others may only require minimal or no assistance.
What Causes Autism?
Autism’s origins are still a mystery. It could be hereditary, affecting members of the same family, but this is not always the case. People who are autistic frequently also have:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Depression or anxiety
From early childhood to adulthood, autism can be diagnosed. Within the last 20 years, the number of autism diagnoses has increased by over 700%. Females experienced a greater proportional increase between 1998 and 2018 than males, with adults experiencing the most striking growth. Increasing awareness is frequently cited as the cause of the rise in diagnosis. However, experts are unable to confirm a real rise in the incidence of autism just yet.
Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism is identified by the similar behavioral characteristics that many people with the disorder share. However, because of how diverse the disorder is, no two cases are alike. Even though some traits are more typical, some autistic individuals may not show any overt symptoms.
Following are a few typical characteristics of ASD:
Deciphering verbal and non-verbal cues like body language, facial expressions, or tone of voice can be difficult for people with autism. Limited speech is possible in some autistic people. Others, on the other hand, might speak fluently but have trouble understanding sarcasm or tone of voice. Other characteristics are:
- Taking things literally and not comprehending abstract ideas
- Taking more time than usual to process information or respond to inquiries
- Echolalia, or repeating what others have said to them
2. Social Interaction
People with autism may find it difficult to understand or recognize the emotions or intentions of others, as well as to express those emotions. They may find it challenging to navigate the social world as a result. People with autism may:
- Come off as uncaring
- When surrounded by people, try to spend some time alone.
- Determinedly reject consolation from others
- Behave “oddly” or in a way deemed to be socially inappropriate
- Struggle to form and maintain friendships
3. Repetitive, Restrictive Behavior
People with autism may prefer to take the same route, dress in the same way, or eat the same thing for breakfast. People can feel very uneasy and anxious when their routines change.
When a person is attempting to prepare for occasions like Christmas, for instance, anxiety may manifest. Or it could be simpler, like having to deal with a bus detour or uncertainty at work.
When an autistic person is stressed or anxious, they frequently engage in repetitive movements like tapping their pen or flapping their hands.
4. Sensory Sensitivity
People with autism may exhibit over- or under-sensitivity to various sensory experiences, including touch, taste, smell, sound, light, and color (or both simultaneously). Many autistic people would rather not shake hands or give hugs to others.
They are frequently portrayed as being cold and distant in response to this. Due to their sensitivity problems, some autistic individuals will steer clear of commonplace situations.
5. Focused, Intense Interests
Many autistic individuals have intensely narrow interests. People with autism can become experts in their fields and frequently enjoy imparting their knowledge. They greatly enjoy pursuing their interests because they view them as essential to their happiness.
Autism can benefit from this intense concentration in both the classroom and the workplace. Additionally, it is possible for them to become so preoccupied with certain subjects that they start to neglect other facets of their lives.
Over one-third of those with a diagnosis of autism also experience severe mental health problems, and many autistic people find it difficult to recognize and manage their emotions. For many autistic people, anxiety is real and crippling, especially when confronting social situations or deviations from the norm. They may experience significant psychological and physical effects, which may have a negative impact on their quality of life.
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