Parents of autistic boy use medical marijuana to curb self destructive rants

6545465645641The parents of a severely autistic eleven year old boy, Alex Echols have taken to administering their son medical marijuana in an effort to curb self destructive rants. It has now offered the beleaguered family a second chance after having earlier sent their son to a state funded group home.

Tells Jeremy Echols, the boy’s father to local media outlet kptv:

“It was indescribable, it was horrifying. When you’ve got no other options, are you honestly gonna say no?”

So bad was the boys fits growing up that they would involve him head butting his head agains the wall until his entire face was black and blue.

At one point Alex’s parents even bought him a protective helmet as well being forced to offer him mood altering drugs to combat the violent seizures before finally relenting and taking him to a home when he turned eight.

Yet after watching a television news story about a California woman who was using medical marijuana to treat her autistic son. The Echols researched Oregon’s medical marijuana program, and in 2010, a doctor approved Alex for medical marijuana use.

Alex is now one of 58 minors currently protected under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act. While autism is not a qualifying medical condition like cancer or severe pain, in Alex’s case, his seizures were.

And after a few months of treatment, the Echols said they saw a dramatic improvement.

“He went from being completely, yelling, screaming, bloodying his face, to within an hour, hour and a half, he would be playing with toys, using his hands,” he said. ”Something that at that time was almost unheard of.”

Yet despite the success of using medical marijuana to help combat their son’s condition, Alex’s group home has taken a stand against administering medical marijuana. That though hasn’t prohibited the boy’s parents from collecting him up to three times a week where he is taken off site and administered medical marijuana in a liquid oral form.

And why has Alex’s home group resisted to the use of medical marijuana?

kptv: The American Academy of Pediatrics has circulated a resolution that opposes the use of medical marijuana in children. Dr. Sharon Levy, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Boston’s Children’s Hospital and chairwoman of the AAP’s committee on substance abuse, told FOX 12 marijuana is toxic to children’s developing brains. She also said enough isn’t known about the drug’s long-term effects.

Alex’s parents have reacted by arguing that although they’re not advocating the use of medical marijuana for all autistic children, but they say those who walk a mile in their shoes may not consider the treatment so extreme.

“For us, the long-term side effects that are unknown for something that can’t kill him are a lot better than the long-term side effects of him beating himself bloody.”

Then there was these two comment on the web that made me wonder as well:

The FDA won’t do clinical testing, which makes testing for long term side effects impossible. But are you surprised cause this is all natural and pharmaceuticals don’t stand a chance to profit from offering this as a treatment?

Marijuana is more toxic to their brain than antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, or daily head and bodily trauma? Puh-lease.

Parents have the right to choose the best treatment for their child based on their personal knowledge, perception of benefits and risks, and cultural beliefs. Doctors have the right to diagnose and provide options for treatment, but they are not the parents or caretakers and that is NOT their child. That needs to be respected. I was glad to hear the neurologist wasn’t surprised that the parents would use this–or any drug that showed promise–to treat a child.

Kudos to the parents for not letting the system cheat their child out of a treatment option.

Alex’s condition is said to be the result of a rare genetic disorder called Tuberous Sclerosis which leads to the growth of non-malignant tumors in his organs, particularly his brain.

Around 50,000 people in the US suffer from the condition, which leaves victims unable to communicate and forces them to behave erratically.

The Echols have set up a Facebook page that chronicles Alex’s journey. You can find their blog at

According to a recent Facebook update, Alex underwent surgery this week.

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