Like most parents Kamal and her husband have worked hard to provide for their family, to ensure that their three children have everything they need to live a happy, healthy life. For their youngest son, 31-year old Amer, it has meant making sure that he gets the additional care and support needed to address his severe autism.
You can hear the love in her voice when Kamal talks about her son, her “Ubby.” She paints a picture of a content, happy man who enjoys time with family and the caregivers who help with his unique developmental needs. She talks about his big smiles and his love for long walks.
But towards the end of 2015 everything began to change. Amer began to become anxious and then aggressive, becoming increasingly difficult to control. The formerly happy and pleasant man was throwing tantrums three times a day and was making the lives of those who cared for him very difficult.
“It was like a dark cloud was over us,” Kamal recalls. “It wasn’t a happy time.”
Such drastic changes in personality are not uncommon in autistic people and can be caused by any number of elements, from a change in routine to a virus. Determining the cause, and then alleviating it, is the challenge. Sometimes these changes are permanent.
Kamal took Amer to his psychiatrist for help. As is common in such situations the doctor prescribed a number of medications to see if they would help. To deal with the anxiety and aggression, Amer was given a mixture of antipsychotic and antidepressant medications, such as Clopixol, Haldol, Seraquil and Trazadone.
Unfortunately the collection of drugs meant to help Amer only made a bad situation worse. To start with the medication caused his hands to shake uncontrollably, forcing Amer to take drugs to counter the other drugs: anticonvulsants Valporic acid and Benzatropine. Even worse, Kamal had to watch her son slowly drifting away from her as the medication typically used on schizophrenic patients settled over him, dulling his emotions.
“Amer became like a zombie,” says Kamal. “He wasn’t smiling anymore, he didn’t want to go on his long walks; he wasn’t himself.”
Amer’s doctor didn’t have an alterative to offer though, which didn’t sit well with Kamal.
“Can you imagine Amer taking all these meds for the next 10 years,” says Kamal? “How difficult it would be on his liver, on his whole being?”
Desperate to find a new way to help her son, Kamal took to the internet to do some research. It was there that she read a story about another family who was having a similar experience. They used medical cannabis to help their child. Kamal was intrigued and kept researching.
A few months later Amer received his prescription for medical cannabis. His physician was against it, but Kamal wanted her son back, not the empty shell that looked like him. She ordered medical cannabis oil from CanniMed and hoped for the best.
“For the past 2 months Amer has been using the 10:10 and 1:20 oils, and wow, he’s a different kid,” laughs Kamal.
Within a week of starting on medical cannabis Amer’s anxiety and aggression began to noticeably diminish and Kamal began weening him of the conventional medications. He dropped from three tantrums a day to three a week.
“He’s back,” she happily enthuses! “Now he’s way more content and sleeping well.”
For Amer and his family medical cannabis allowed them to treat a number of common symptoms related to autism without side effects. It gave them the ability to provide a treatment that gave relief without adding complications. Most importantly, it gave them their son back.
“Compared to all the other stuff that could be put into our kids, cannabis is a great, natural solution. It addresses high stress and insomnia, which are common in autistic kids,” says Kamal.
“For us, it was a miracle.”