An 11-year-old Oregon boy gets medical marijuana to manage his self-destructive rages.
The boy’s family was so desperate that they have turned to controversial medical marijuana treatments. The family, who describes the boy as “severely autistic”, said the treatment has helped their child tremendously.
Alex Echols suffers from tuberous sclerosis, a rare genetic disorder that causes the growth of non-malignant tumours in his organs. According to his doctors, Alex has growths in his brain that cause him to have debilitating seizures, autism, and self-directed rages.
Alex’s father, Jeremy Echols, writes in the family’s Facebook page that Alex has extreme self-destructive behaviour during his episodes. He would often be seen slam his head into walls and slap his face until it bleeds.
Echols said that they have tried for years to protect Alex from himself. When Alex turned 8, they were forced to move him into a state-funded group home.
“Alex had every family of behavior medication known to the psychiatrist, and we tried private behavior therapy,” Alex’s mom, Karen, wrote on the family’s Facebook page.
In 2009, Karen stumbled on articles about medical marijuana treatments for children with autism and rage. The family decided to try it out.
Alex was approved for use of marijuana the next year. According to his parents’, Alex’s transformation was astonishing.
Alex’s dad said the boy was able to explore his world that he was normally unable to do. The Echols were happy to have their boy smile back at them.
Unfortunately, Alex’s group home will not administer the marijuana to him. So, his parents have to take him out of the facility about three times a week to give him medical marijuana.
The family has received criticism for administering marijuana to Alex. Some experts are saying that the effects of the drug on a child’s development are unknown. However, the family says that the benefits far outweigh the potential risks.
“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,” Echols told KPTV.