Pubdate: Fri, 23 Oct 2015
Source: Daily Chronicle (DeKalb, IL)
Copyright: 2015 Daily Chronicle
Author: Patricia Ihm


To the Editor:

My son, Ethan, has autism.

I am learning more on this parenting journey than I ever expected to learn.

Honestly, I really don't want to learn about the side effects of 
Risperdal or Zyprexa. I don't want to have a reason to know them. I 
don't want others to treat my sweet boy with any less dignity than he deserves.

The grip of autism is not selective. This child is only trying to 
make sense of his world and his emotional kaleidoscope. I want him to 
be able to cross the train tracks without being gripped by fear and 
to enjoy the Christmas lights with the rest of us. I want him to know 
that he is a treasure, every single day.

People with autism are often in a state of sensory overload. 
Experiences are more intense: louder, scarier, more painful..., often 
intolerable. I have seen anecdotal studies of children close in age 
to my son, with similar behaviors, who seemed to get better almost 
overnight when allowed the chance to have medical marijuana.

For Ethan, there are extraordinary swings of angst, fear, and 
aggression. There are flashes of brilliance and charm; those are the 
moments we relish, the ones that bring us through the challenges.

Ethan has been through two psychiatric hospitalizations. He had more 
physical restraints during the last calendar year than anyone else at 
his therapeutic day school.

I'm sorry for railroad tracks, thunder, bees, wind, and for all of 
the other things that invade his head and stir his fears.

We don't want him to go back to where he is not understood, where 
nobody sits with him as he falls asleep, where he is presented with 
trays of brown things with gravy, and where the outcome will be no 
different than before.

My little boy, at 7, has been on at least 15 medications, many with 
negative side effects. Many children in states with more sensible 
laws have recovered the ability to function in everyday life by using 
edible marijuana. I feel that it is our ethical responsibility to 
offer this same opportunity to children in Illinois: the chance at a 
calm and joyful childhood.

On behalf of my son and others who may not have words to express, 
please call the Illinois Department of Public Health office at 
312-814-8482 to leave your message in favor of approving medical 
marijuana as a treatment for autism.

Patricia Ihm

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