With all the spooky costumes, scary decorations, eerie noises, and an explosion of sugar, Halloween can be overwhelming for any child and particularly for children with special needs.
Here are some tips for a safe and enjoyable Halloween for your child:
1. Select a costume that combines comfort and fun – Let your child practice wearing their costume at home. This gives you time to make any last minute modifications and time for your child to get used to the costume.
2. Prepare – Many children with special needs do better with a schedule or routine. Write a narrative describing what your child will do on Halloween and visually track where you will go. Read the story several times before Halloween so your child has time to get used to the plan.
3. Practice – Practice trick or treating in a familiar environment. Visit friends and family, if possible, even neighbors.
4. Review positive behavior – Review expectations, such as saying, “Trick-or-Treat!” and “Thank you” and not going inside the home.
5. Have a backup plan- In case there is melt down, consider letting siblings (that might want to go longer) go trick or treating with a friend.
6. Gradual change – If your child has difficulty with change, you may want to decorate your home gradually.
7. Remember, Halloween looks different for every child and you know your child best. Happy Halloween!
Medical marijuana has been touted to cure everything from pain to cancer, but how about as an autism treatment? There is anecdotal evidence that marijuana’s main non-psychoactive compound — cannabidiol or CBD — helps children in ways no other medication has. Now a first-of-its-kind scientific study is trying to determine if the link is real. A clinical trial is underway in Israel to test the benefits of medicinal marijuana for young people with autism. The study began in January at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. The study involves 120 children and young adults, ages 5 to 29, who have mild to severe autism, and it will last through the end of 2018.
Adi Aran, the pediatric neurologist leading the study, said nearly all the participants in the study previously took antipsychotics and nearly half responded negatively. Currently, only two medications have been approved in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration to treat the symptoms of autism. Both are antipsychotic drugs that are not always effective and carry serious side effects.
One major concern is the long-term impact of prescribing cannabis to young patients is the possibility of causing harm to the developing brain; although antipsychotic drugs currently prescribed to autistic children are certainly not without serious side effects.
The strain of CBD that is being used in the study led by Dr. Aran is a high CBD strain or ‘clean 98 percent CBD’. Some anecdotal evidence from other families that have used medical marijuana to treat autism symptoms found that the high CBD strains weren’t necessarily working for those with behavioral issues and found greater success with other strains.
Additional studies will have to be approved to be conducted in the United States before medical marijuana will be sanctioned as a treatment for symptoms of autism and Dr. Aran’s study may be the starting point for additional studies in other countries