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Controversial Treatment Family in Oregon Uses Medical Marijuana to Manage Sons Autistic Rage

The parents of a severely autistic boy have turned to medical marijuana in a last desperate bid to curb his self-destructive behaviour. Eleven-year-old Alex Echols, from Portland, Oregon, would erupt into such violent rages he would headbutt walls until his entire face was black and blue. His parents tried everything from buying him a protective helmet to mood-altering drugs. But when all that failed, they took the heart-breaking decision to send him to a state-funded group home at the age of eight-years-old. Feeling like they had 'thrown Alex away', the Echols later saw a news story on TV about a family that was using marijuana to treat their autistic son and they found a doctor to approve its use on Alex in the faint hope it might work. After just a few months of treatment, his father said the improvement has been revolutionary. 'He went from yelling, screaming, bloodying his face, to within an hour, hour and a half, he would be playing with toys, using his hands,' Jeremy Echols told www.kptv.com. 'Something that at that time was almost unheard of.' Alex suffers from the rare genetic disorder Tuberous Sclerosis, which causes non-malignant growths in organs and particularly the brain. It affects around 50,000 people in the United States and leaves sufferers unable to communicate and displaying erratic behaviour. Alex's group home will not administer the marijuana, so his parents give him a liquid form of the drug about three times a week which is injected into his mouth from a syringe. Oregon law does not require a doctor to monitor a child's medical marijuana use and the dosage is up to the parents. Alex is now one of 58 children currently protected under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act. Although autism is not a qualifying medical condition like cancer or severe pain, doctors ruled that his seizures made his eligible.

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