An autistic boy in Portland, Ore. takes medical marijuana to curb his self-harming behavior, Huffington Post reports Jan. 31. 11-year-old Alex Echols has a pattern of self-destructive behavior that results in him literally being a danger to himself. He tends to slam his head into walls and slapping his face until it bleeds.
Alex also suffers from tuberous sclerosis, which is a rare genetic disorder causing growths of benign tumors in organs. As a result, the boy has been afflicted with autism, seizures, and can go into self-harming rages.
Doctors and therapists have spent years helping Jeremy and Karen Echols try finding solutions to their son's destructive behavior. Various medications didn't work, either. In 2009 a doctor approved medical marijuana for the autistic boy and it has virtually changed his life.
"Eventually we had some truly amazing results," Alex's dad wrote on his blog. "He explored his world with his hands, something he was very rarely able to do. His hands were the enemy up to this point ... But on those few truly magical days when we got the dosing just right, he played. He used his hands to explore. He looked at us and smiled."
Prior to Alex taking medical marijuana, his mother shares that they even attempted swimming and different sensory techniques to help with his behaviors. At one point they had to put him in a group home until they realized this was the best treatment.
"We tried some swimming for a while, we had a special sensory room set up in the garage, and we did some stuff at home and at school with communication techniques to try and help him tell us what he needed before he got into a rage fit... We tried a lot of stuff before we considered the group home."
Treating autistic children with medical marijuana is highly controversial and a lot still needs uncovering regarding long-term effects. Very few children are approved to take marijuana for medicinal purposes. Treatments for autism vary as individuals with the disorder differ depending on how extreme their condition is.