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Cannabis Spray Treatment Helps 9-Year-Old with Autism Learn to Speak

The Short of It

Kalel Santiago, who lives in Puerto Rico, was diagnosed with cancer at 10 months old, and after he was cancer-free at 3 years old, he was diagnosed with severe, non-verbal autism. At age 9, he hadn't spoken his first word—until his parents tried a controversial treatment: Hemp Health, a hemp oil that includes a form of cannabis. Two days later, he was speaking.

The Lowdown

Kalel's parents sprayed the compound cannabidiol (CBD) in the boy's mouth twice per day, and they say the results were astounding.

"He surprised us in school by saying the vowels, A-E-I-O-U. It was the first time ever," dad Abiel told Yahoo Parenting. "You can't imagine the emotion we had, hearing Kalel's voice for the first time. It was amazing. The teacher recorded him and sent it to my wife and me, and we said, 'well, the only different thing we have been doing is using the CBD.'"

Soon he was saying full words. "He said, 'amo mi mama,' 'I love my mom,'" Abiel says. "I don't know how to thank [the CBD oil makers]."

The Upshot

If you have a child with autism, don't rush out and buy a bottle. Doctors say the results of cannabis sprays like this one have yet to be proven—the Santiagos' experience is purely anecdotal evidence. Also, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says products like Hemp Health haven't been proven safe and are unregulated. In fact, selling them as "dietary supplements" is illegal.

Still, perhaps stories like this will spur further testing and possibly help doctors determine some new, effective treatments for children with autism.

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