Tag Archive autism awareness

ByMieko Perez

Global Healthcare Conversations with Mieko Perez ft. Cannafora Founder

 By Mieko Hester-Perez

Cannafora is a medical cannabis treatment center for people with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. The center offers a complete solution holistic approach (biological, emotional, environmental) that addresses all aspects of the patient’s life.

What is your personal story with choosing cannabis for your child on the spectrum?

Yuval, my severely autistic son is 27 now. Yuval is very restless and has a lot of anxiety, so when he was 12 years old, we started giving him antipsychotic medication on the recommendation of his doctors. But he just became worse and worse.

By the age of 17 he got epileptic seizures so we had to add anti-epileptic drugs. When he was around 17, he became very self-injurious, biting himself until bleeding. And sometimes very aggressive towards his cares or towards me.

There were years I refer to as “living in the shadow of hell”. Loving and caring for your child but frightened he will attack you…can’t be alone with him and can’t drive and take him to places.

So, even before cannabis, we weaned him off all those medications and found him to do better without them than with. But still, he had his outbursts, his restlessness and self-injurious behaviors.

Then, in 2014, I read that Israeli neurologists started prescribing high CBD whole plant oil for kids with intractable epilepsy. I reached out to them, but they said they couldn’t prescribe it to Yuval since his epilepsy is intractable and because autism was not a qualifying condition in Israel.

I decided we had nothing to lose and would find a way to give it a try. I read as much as I could on the internet about the cannabis plant, turned to an Israeli psychiatrist who treated hundreds of Israeli veterans with PTSD and finally, got access to medical marijuana for Yuval.

It was on October 2015. I remember thinking if Yuval responded amazingly to the treatment his mother would become the Israeli advocate for so many families choosing to treat their children with medical marijuana instead of pharmaceutical drugs.

In Yuval’s case, he responded best to a CBD-rich whole plant cannabis oil and vaporizing high-THC cannabis flower when he is agitated. CBD-dominant cannabis products without THC tended to increase his hyperactivity and anxiety. However, some children can experience significant improvements with CBD oil alone.

Do you think cannabis education for medical professionals and healthcare providers is lacking?

Definitely. Since cannabis is a very complicated plant, much more scientific research is needed to better understand: the different strains, cannabinoids and terpenes effects, different delivery methods, extraction methods, and vaporizing options.

Even today here in Israel, where autism is a qualifying condition for medical marijuana we have more and more doctors supporting this treatment option and willing to prescribe it. And since autism is so complex by itself most of the knowledge today comes from the patients themselves, and just small part of it from science.

And this is what I do here in Israel at Cannafora (Cannabis for Autism treatment center I’ve founded) – the “hands on” part with the families to get the right cannabis product and the right dosing and balance for their autistic child…

Read full blog on Hopegrown.org

ByMieko Perez

Global Healthcare Conversations with Mieko Perez ft. Janie & Gavin

By Mieko Hester-Perez

What is your personal story with choosing cannabis for you child on the autism spectrum?

My oldest son, Gavin, was diagnosed with autism in 2010 at the age of 5 and accepted into the Sussex Consortium for their year-round Autism program. It was a hard diagnosis for us to face even though my husband is a Special Education teacher and works with autistic children on a regular basis.

Gavin was born a twin with his sister, Rylie, at 29 weeks gestation. I remember the first time I was allowed to hold him he cuddled up under my neck. My first thought was “Oh, wow! I’ve got a little cuddle bug!” I called him my Bugaboo. He met all of his milestones albeit a bit delayed due to his early birth.

There was still something “off” though. He seemed to have been born with OCD. His pediatrician and I would discuss his “quirkiness” when he was very little but as time went on, we both knew we needed to get him evaluated for ASD. He would fixate on broken or uneven floor tiles and physically fight me if I tried to move him.

Instead of clothes, his dresser drawers were full of rocks, sticks, pieces of electronics he took apart, old erasers, and pieces of folded papers that he would stare at. He never once played with toys. He was combative, aggressive, and controlling with others, especially with Rylie.

He could not handle changes and had to have strict routine. He was developing certain behaviors such as smelling and tasting nonfood items, for instance ants, plants, feet if he could get to them under a table, soap, etc. The communication coming out was perseveration and how he was receiving communication was extremely pragmatic.

Communication, mutism, and lack of being able to console or touch him was our biggest concern. He was disappearing into a different world each day. We saw him mirror others around him so we decided to integrate him into regular classrooms with a therapist by his side and private therapy during the summers.

He was ahead for his age on an intellectual scale but emotionally, socially, and behaviorally things were difficult for him. We saw slivers of empathy come through and this made us hopeful. The hardest for us was the social impact we saw playing out for him. We could see that he was figuring out that his brain worked differently than his peers.

He wanted to be accepted by his peers but was not. Sports did not work out in his favor with his IBS, awkward gait, and severe social anxiety. We began making plans to remodel our downstairs into a suite for him as he got older, thinking long-term.

He also wanted and needed his own space to retreat and calm down. His social anxiety, even with family, was apparent. What would his future look like? Were we doing the right things? Diets, medicines, therapy…I know every parent question themselves if they have done enough. It’s a hard thing to wonder. You literally tear yourself up over this…

Read full blog on Hopegrown.org

ByMieko Perez

Mieko Hester-Perez is a Champion for Special Needs Families

Mieko Hester-Perez is a modern day warrior mom, a champion of special needs families. Every single day, her mission is to help families improve the quality of life for their loved ones through unconventional treatments and she has pledged to “leave no family behind.”

Courtesy of Mieko Perez

Just this past Sunday night, Mieko was presented with the Chalice Festival’s Industry Dedication Award for her tireless work helping families with special needs children to better understand medical cannabis. Drawing on 20 years of legal experience, 15 years of special education knowledge, ongoing research, and her personal experiences navigating through treatment options for her own son, Mieko continues to help families throughout the world achieve positive results with cannabis.

Not your typical cannabis activist

Now, it should be mentioned, Mieko Hester-Perez is not your typical cannabis activist. She doesn’t wear tie-dye, wasn’t raised by hippie parents, and doesn’t use cannabis herself. Quite the contrary: she comes from a very conservative family that includes a long line of law enforcement. “I know I’m an unlikely cannabis advocate,” Mieko says, “being raised in South Orange County among other conservative constituents.”

Because of her professionalism and reliability, physicians who don’t normally recommend cannabis call Mieko to consult with patients’ families who are considering cannabis when all other treatments have failed. She understands and sympathizes with these families because she’s been in their shoes: before trying cannabis as a treatment, her son Joey had been on over 14 different experimental medications that did not work. Secondary to his autism, Joey was diagnosed with anorexia and malnutrition and it was Mieko’s extensive research into how to get him to eat that led her to bake a few batches of gluten-free cannabis edibles for her son. 

Not only did the cannabis edibles successfully improve Joey’s appetite, which led to improved nutrition and healthy growth, Mieko also noticed he began making eye contact on a more consistent basis, he had less aggression and became more productive in educational and home settings.

Not your typical cannabis activist

Now, it should be mentioned, Mieko Hester-Perez is not your typical cannabis activist. She doesn’t wear tie-dye, wasn’t raised by hippie parents, and doesn’t use cannabis herself. Quite the contrary: she comes from a very conservative family that includes a long line of law enforcement. “I know I’m an unlikely cannabis advocate,” Mieko says, “being raised in South Orange County among other conservative constituents.”

Because of her professionalism and reliability, physicians who don’t normally recommend cannabis call Mieko to consult with patients’ families who are considering cannabis when all other treatments have failed. She understands and sympathizes with these families because she’s been in their shoes: before trying cannabis as a treatment, her son Joey had been on over 14 different experimental medications that did not work. Secondary to his autism, Joey was diagnosed with anorexia and malnutrition and it was Mieko’s extensive research into how to get him to eat that led her to bake a few batches of gluten-free cannabis edibles for her son. 

Not only did the cannabis edibles successfully improve Joey’s appetite, which led to improved nutrition and healthy growth, Mieko also noticed he began making eye contact on a more consistent basis, he had less aggression and became more productive in educational and home settings.

Read full blog on Hopegrown.org