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When a person becomes a parent, their main goal is to care for and protect their child. When a parent has an autistic child, that goal becomes much more difficult. An estimated one out of 110 children are diagnosed with Autism, making it more common than juvenile diabetes, childhood cancer, and pediatric AIDS combined. Autism affects an estimated 1.5 million people in the United States, and tens of millions worldwide. Statistics suggest that the rate of Autism is growing 10-17% each year. Although there is no established explanation for this increase, improved diagnosis and environmental factors are two reasons often considered.
What is Autism?
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders, or PDD. These disorders also include Asperger Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified). Autism is a disorder of neural development, characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. These signs all begin before a child is three years old. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize; how this occurs is not well understood. Parents will usually see signs of Autism within the first two years of their child’s life.
A Mother Struggles To Save Her Son
Mieko Hester Perez is the mother of an autistic child, his name is Joey. Joey was diagnosed with Autism when he was 18 months old. By the time Joey was 9 years old, his battle with Autism was threatening his life. He weighed only 46 lbs. and his bones where showing on his chest. The conventional medicines that the doctors prescribed were not doing much for him, though he took 13 of them each day, up to three times a day. His appetite was poor, he was hurting himself physically, and his doctor ultimately gave him six months to live. Desperate to save her son, Mieko began looking for an alternative.
Mieko began researching Cannabis and Autism on the internet and at the library. It was at the library that she began reading research done by Dr. Bernard Rimland and Dr. Lester Grinspoon. Mieko was raised in a religious environment and worked in the legal profession for 15 years. She had a difficult decision to make: Should she go against her life’s background and try Cannabis as a medicine for Joey or not? She decided Yes, and was rewarded with wonderful results. Today, Joey is flourishing with new communicative expressions and he's gained over 40 lbs. He's happier, healthier, better behaved & is more productive than ever. His performance at school is quite literally through the roof. His body is no longer overcome by synthetic drugs, and Joey is only required to take three prescription drugs now.
The Unconventional Foundation For Autism
When Mieko Hester Perez saw the amazing results that medicinal Cannabis produced for Joey, she wanted to share his story, and help other children. In order to do this, she started the Unconventional Foundation for Autism three years ago, when she made an oath to Joey after being interviewed by Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America. Her goal was to help just one other family with an autistic child, that was her reason for going public with Joey's treatment.
The mission of UF4A is three-fold: (1) to raise awareness and support for families afflicted with this mysterious and misunderstood condition known as Autism; (2) to raise funds for Cannabis-based medical research and clinical trials; and (3) to campaign for a rescheduling of Cannabis from Schedule 1 narcotic (no accepted medical benefits) to a lower schedule so that the appropriate research may be conducted, and so that all patients have access to medication without fear of prosecution.
A listing on Schedule 1 is tantamount to a research blockade and, frankly, is unacceptable where millions continue to needlessly suffer. The Schedule 1 listing fails to reflect the prevailing medical view that Cannabis has accepted medical benefits.
UF4A is quickly becoming a leading advocate in the fight for nationwide investigation, research and analysis of the legalization of Medical Marijuana; contributions will directly help support the advancement of our mission.
A Chat with Mieko Hester Perez
I was given the privilege of speaking with Mieko recently. If there is one thing I learned, it was that helping children with Autism is extremely important to her. She receives many phone calls daily, from parents who want to know what she did and how she did it. She does everything in her power to help, she believes no family should be left behind. She knows first-hand what it’s like to have an autistic child, the pain and the heartache. It has become her passion to help other families.
Mieko Hester Perez has had interviews with all five of the major television networks, in the hope of spreading awareness about Autism and medicinal Cannabis. These interviews have helped a great deal, they are a main reason she receives so many calls from parents.
Joey was first diagnosed with Autism when he was 18 months old. At the age of five, he began taking prescribed medications to treat symptoms associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder. According to Mieko, this was still fairly early on in the diagnosis, and there were no “true” medications to treat his Autism. Through her research, she found psychotropic medications that were commonly used and she started Joey on three medications. Throughout the next five years, Joey was placed on every medication that was available to treat children with Autism. She tried a total of 13 medications. They were not working, however, they were causing Joey to have liver damage, seizures, and facial tics. When asked how much the medications cost, and how much was covered by programs such as Medicaid, Mieko had this to say, “Children on the Autism spectrum are covered through the state if you have a qualifying diagnosis, so you be the judge of who wins in the diagnosis of Autism.”
I was curious as to whether or not Mieko was concerned with only giving Joey Cannabis as medicine, leaving the pharmaceutical medications behind. Her response was that she is not against pharmaceuticals. She is, however, against all those toxic medications for children with warning labels that say: side effects include death and liver failure for children between the ages of 3 to 13.
Joey had eating disorders when he was on the pharmaceutical medications. He lost his appetite, and he would rarely want to eat. When he did, it was mostly peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Mieko made sure to keep plenty of the favorite foods he would eat on hand. She informed me that he had one to three foods that he would eat, and that every three months or so those would change. She had Joey on a gluten free, casein free diet. For those who don’t know, this is a very restrictive diet, and not easy to accomplish. Gluten is found in most foods, and gluten free foods are expensive. Joey was sure to have had a nutrition deficit due to his appetite, and that is plain to see in the photos of him from a few years ago. The GFCF diet did not seem to help him much at the time he was on the pharmaceuticals. I asked Mieko if she had problems getting Joey to eat medical Cannabis, as he was having such difficulty eating. She told me that the first few weeks were trial and error as the entire introduction to using medical Cannabis was overwhelming for her, just too much information at one time. However, within a few weeks of beginning medical Cannabis, Joey acquired a taste for his GFCF brownies, and the rest is history.
When Joey was on the pharmaceutical medicines only, his aggression was amplified. His OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) and his compulsion to hoard things was also excessive. He had a “behavioral plan” in school, or IEP. He would have glossy eyes and was always edgy. Mieko said Joey had unpredictable behavior and it was a total nightmare. Schools that teach autistic children do not have certain plans for children that are on specific medications; however they do have behavioral plans to help address aggressive behavior. Joey was on such a plan. Today, Joey is doing so well in his education program that he is no longer on a behavioral plan, which is absolutely astounding. His behavior has greatly improved. She related this story to me, “There were nine people sitting in my living room when Joey began to bang on the walls in frustration. I placed a gluten free, casein free brownie in his hand no bigger than a silver dollar, and by the last bite, I had a room full of grown men with tears in their eyes. What they had witnessed was science in the most compelling visual proof of how effective Cannabis is for children on the Autism spectrum. Joey’s eye contact had improved; he began to be social, laughing appropriately. He became more engaged with the people in the room. This is not often heard or seen when you are describing children diagnosed with Autism.”
Finding the right strain of Cannabis for Joey was a wild west venture for Mieko, as she is a non-Cannabis consumer. She was able to find a discreet delivery service, and a year later was confident enough to walk into a garden, then a collective. She has tested so many strains that some days she felt like a “strain-ologist”. The strain Star Dawg has had the most profound effect for Joey. Mieko feels that this strain may very well be the game changer for children diagnosed with Autism. Another strain she feels is appropriate for children on the Autism spectrum is called LA Confidential. The Cannabis she uses as medicine is grown organically, through a technique called Veganics. Veganic agriculture is an approach to growing that encompasses a respect for animals, the environment, and human health. Also known as "stockfree" "vegan organic" and "plant-based," this is a form of agriculture that goes further than organic standards, by eliminating the use of products that are derived from confined animals and by encouraging the presence of wild native animals on the farmland. Steep Hill Labs provides the testing for the medicinal Cannabis, and DNA Genetics provides seeds for the parents who wish to grow their own medicine. She has seen firsthand some collectives that are in the business for the wrong reason. She has also visited ones that are operating a true compassionate and legal collective that parents such as herself can feel safe going to. At The Unconventional Foundation for Autism, she takes the learning curve out of finding a good collective for parents that is safe and compassionate. She feels it’s her obligation to do so. Mieko stands up for collectives that understand the importance of the connection between Autism and medical Cannabis.
Thankfully, Joey has a spindle of “Angel” growers that never leave him without his medicine. There have been some times when he was late in getting his medication, and at those times aggressive behaviors do surface. Mieko states it is nothing like the behaviors she had endured before treating Joey with medical Cannabis. For almost three years now, Joey has been using Cannabis as medicine. To Mieko, long term use seems to be one of the most powerful scientific break-throughs for treating Autism. Mieko has this to say about medicinal Cannabis:, “Cannabis is not a cure for Autism, but it provides a better quality of life for children on the spectrum. When I look into my son’s eyes I see a little boy in there and as I speak with other parents who have chosen this treatment, they also state similar results. It’s not a miracle, it’s Science.”
I asked Mieko if she had any particular medical reports that stood out to her in regards to Cannabis and Autism. Her response was that there are no medical reports that state Cannabis is a safe and effective medication. However, if you connect the dots to the scientific research and papers written by Dr. Bernard Rimland and Dr. Lester Grinspoon, you may find an educated opinion that should be an option for children on the Autism spectrum.
As far as dosage is concerned, Joey only needs to consume a Cannabis infused brownie once every 3 days or so. As long as he keeps Cannabis in his system, it helps him greatly. According to Mieko, with Autism each child has a different DNA makeup. The amount that works for Joey may not work for the next child or adult, but one thing for sure is “we have the strain” that works across the board. The Unconventional Foundation for Autism is currently compiling dosage information through surveys in an attempt to find a consensus on dosage.
About Mieko Hester Perez and the UF4A, in her own words
I am a single mother of a special needs child…when I’m not being a mom of 3 children.
I’m a Corporate Compliance legal researcher and secretary. I am President of CA Corporate & Attorney Services Inc. They are a public court record retrieval & research firm in Los Angeles. They possess over 15 years of experience in providing nationwide civil, criminal, real estate and family law legal support for law firms & companies.
And now I’m Executive Director of The Unconventional Foundation for Autism. I have over 10 years of experience using my legal expertise to advocate for children with special needs by helping parents understand the special education composite of laws set in place to protect our children.
UF4A has been reaching out to celebrity figures that have shown support for the medical Cannabis movement. These celebrities are willing to further the awareness of Autism and the use of Cannabis as an alternative safe and effective treatment. This issue is not about getting high but saving lives, particularly young lives of our precious children.
Our groundbreaking research gives artists an opportunity to align their brand with a prevailing issue facing children and parents throughout America. Those parents who cringe at the mention of Cannabis in lyrics will develop a new and positive perception towards the plant and artists.
Mieko and Joey are helping eliminate the stigma associated with this potentially extraordinary totally natural "green" medicine/herb. In the face of humanity and compassion, the influence of celebrity support is tremendous. Celebrities have been seen wearing the UF4A.ORG orange wristband in support of scientific research for children diagnosed with Autism.
Recently a signed guitar from Willie Nelson was donated by Kevin Lyman, the promoter of the County Throw Down Tour. It seems Mieko’s passion is becoming contagious to save a life. Artists are stepping up to help her with the foundation to reach millions of families in one simple act of gratitude.
It is this writer’s hope that the great things that have been happening for Mieko and Joey are spread throughout the U.S.A. and in turn, throughout the world. This has been happening, and I hope it continues to happen. In turning to Cannabis out of a need to save her child, Mieko has demonstrated great courage and ultimately, has proven that Cannabis works in treating children with Autism.
For More information, Please Visit UF4A.ORG
420 Staff Writer
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