CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) A Cedar Rapids mother is struggling with where to turn for help for her 7-year-old with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
She says finding local doctors to approve medical Cannabidiol is an issue she and other Iowa parents are facing.
"In the past, we have tried medication for Dominic. He is highly aggressive and has a very hard time with transition," said Amber Nelson.
She says finding help for Dominic has been difficult. In the past, she's tried a patch for medication and doctors even recommended ADHD medication. Neither worked.
“It (ADHD medication) can cause depression, and increase anxiety. For my son, it turned him into a zombie," Nelson said.
So she started looking into Cannabidiol 3 years ago, tried the oil and saw the benefits.
"He's a little bit more mellow and relaxed, and kids on the spectrum often have high anxiety levels. Dom has a lot of anxiety and we found that the CBD was working," she added.
She says it was a lifesaver, but when it came to looking for local doctors to approve medical CBD, she kept running into roadblocks - getting denied approval.
“There is a pretty big gray area on who is approved," said Nelson.
Although severe pediatric autism with aggressive behavior qualifies for medical CBD, Nelson says doctors she looked into at all of the area hospitals refused to sign off on paperwork - saying they didn't know enough about CBD.
"They're saying people severe aggression, and how do you judge who has severe aggression. My 7- year-old can clear a room in 3 minutes," she said.
According to Iowa's Department of Public Health, since October of this year, health practitioners certified 854 patients, but less than one percent of those were patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Nelson said she has found one children's hospital in Des Moines and is holding on to hope that they can help.
In the meantime, she says she wants progress and easier access to get kids like hers the help they desperately need.
"We want to be able to give our kids another form of treatment to help them live the best life that they can," Nelson said.
The Iowa Department of Public Health lists 13 qualifying medical conditions, including Cancer, Seizures, Crohn's Disease, Untreatable Pain, Multiple Sclerosis with severe and persistent muscle spasms, AIDS, Parkinson's disease and severe, intractable pediatric autism with self-injurious or aggressive behavior.