Monday, August 29, 2011
Background on Sam
Sam is an eight-year-old male. He was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Delay- Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) when he was two and one-half years old by a pediatric psychiatrist at the M.I.N.D. Institute, UC Davis Medical Center. He was re-diagnosed at the M.I.N.D. Institute in October of 2007 with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). As the psychiatrist told Sam’s mom and I, “Sam is a poster child for ASD”. Sam has lowered cognitive abilities and lowered verbal skills. Sam lives with his mom, dad and his younger sister who is six years of age. She is a typical child with no physical or mental health issues.
Sam was adopted at birth. He had no prenatal issues and was a healthy infant. At around 18 months of age he began exhibiting ASD like behaviors and after six months of reassurances by his primary doctors that he was fine Sam was diagnosed with ASD. Since his diagnoses he has received special education services, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral therapy. He had been on the Gluten-Casein Free Diet (GCFD). He has been treated by a doctor (supposedly one of the best in the country) who treats ASD patients following the Defeat Autism Now (DAN) protocol which emphasizes a “BioMedical” approach established by Dr. Rimland the founder of Autism Society of America and the Autism Research Institute in San Diego, CA.
As a family we have spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to help Sam. Even though as a teacher I have full coverage insurance, many of the services and doctors Sam has seen are not covered under my plan. Blue Cross of California still categorizes ASD as a “mental illness” instead of an “organic disorder” which precludes it from receiving the coverage a typical physical illness would be granted. I only mention this because since Sam was diagnosed with ASD we have devoted ourselves to helping him. This devotion has been in the forms of time, effort, education, therapy cost, medical costs, conferences, parent support groups, and most importantly love.
Sam loves people and he loves to “be on the go”. He has been to Disneyland four times, been camping many times, and has been to San Diego to visit the zoo, Wild Animal Park and Sea World. Sam loves to go to San Francisco Giant and Sacramento Kings games and loves to travel to San Francisco. Sam is our gift from God and we love him just as he is. Many tears have been shed from worry and from the joy of watching Sam achieve things parents of typical children take for granted. There have many moments of laughter and warmth given to us by our quirky, sweet, lovable, little boy.
Purpose of this Journal
I write this journal for Sam and other children like him. We almost lost our little boy to ASD and pharmaceuticals. By the grace of God and the help of a little Medical Cannabis (MC) we have him back. Maybe this journal can give other parents hope when all else seems dark and hopeless. Maybe this journal can prompt others to tell their stories if they have treated their ASD child with Medical Cannabis (MC). Even more important would be some legitimate scientific studies conducted to determine the effectiveness of MC to treat symptoms of Autism.
I never wanted to be an advocate for Medical Cannabis (MC). I do not drink alcohol, take marijuana, or any other psychoactive drug. However, this experience has been so profound and dramatic that I feel no choice but to speak out on the issue. I understand the political and legal sensitivity of giving an eight-year-old child medical cannabis but if one child and family can be helped from my disclosure any risk to myself is acceptable. As a parent, I only want to help my son. No one ever questioned our decision to give our son the potpourri of pharmaceuticals prescribed by his doctors that, in my opinion, almost destroyed him.
My wife and I both have very conservative parents and families who are very much opposed to any type of “illegal” drug use. We have their complete support. They witnessed Sam’s deterioration over the last year and they saw his almost miraculous turn around once we started using the MC. We have only disclosed treating Sam with MC to our closest family. We have shared the information with Sam’s primary pediatrician on the recommendation of Sam’s MC Doctor. The pediatrician has been supportive in an “off the record” manner. He has been Sam’s pediatrician since birth and he knows that we are responsible parents.