Could psychedelics help to relieve certain distressing experiences for people with autism? Certain autistic adults appear to be convinced.
Autism is a spectrum disorder (ASD). According to the Autism Speaks organization, autism refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication.
ASD is different for each person
People living with autism have uniquely different experiences, which is the reason why the disorder is on a spectrum. Some autistic people have significant difficulties functioning on a day-to-day basis, whereas others experience fewer challenges and have the ability to function normally.
Less severe forms of the condition include Asperger’s syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). In these cases, a person would typically have some level of communication difficulties and social behavior.
People with Asperger’s syndrome, for instance, often demonstrate enhanced perception of small changes in patterns such as arrangements of objects. Such changes can be extremely uncomfortable, and sometimes even cause a fight-or-flight response.
Psychedelics and Treating Autism
Certain types of therapies and medications successfully help to manage the disorder. Likewise, some autistic people have found that using psychedelics for psychedelic therapy is beneficial.
In a social media group dedicated to psychedelic users, a man explains: “I’m autistic which isn’t an ailment, but mushrooms and acid help me relax and connect to myself better, which improves my ability to self-regulate and tolerate a non-sensory-inclusive world and most ableist nonsense.”
“I have autism and it [LSD] has benefitted me greatly. I am less socially awkward, I pick up on social cues more … and I have much less anxiety,” another person says.
Alyx, an autistic 28-year-old man, recounts the time he took a microdose of magic truffles in Amsterdam. Psychedelics helped him. The first time he tripped, he was able to genuinely laugh and talk with ease.
Although it isn’t traditionally recommended that people living with autism take psychedelics, researchers have conducted studies in order to determine psychedelics’ potential benefits for people on the autism spectrum.
The experiment’s results showed significant improvement in Leibowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS) scores for the group who underwent MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, as opposed to the placebo group.
Psychedelics have been proven to be a beneficial treatment for patients suffering from PTSD and other anxiety disorders. Surely there must be room for further studies on such treatment for autistic adults.
More large-scale studies on psychedelics and autism can help prove that such methods could replace traditional treatments for managing autism-related characteristics. However, surveys do show promising results from autistic people taking psychedelics who see a positive change in their day-to-day lives.
Who knows? Psychedelics could potentially become a reliable treatment option for people with autism.