• Rhona Cullinan

How we Started on CBD Oils

Updated: Nov 3, 2019

Our beautiful boy Joshua was born on St Patrick's Day 2015. He was a healthy typical baby and met all his milestones from birth. We did notice at times that he seemed strangely independent and wasn’t a cuddler even at night – he was more settled when we would put him down than holding or nursing him. He was a great eater and we began baby led weaning at 6 months and it was a huge success – by 9 months he was eating practically anything. At 16 months he was a happy, giggly, chatty fun little boy learning new words every week.


At this time I was pregnant with our daughter Molly. At 9 weeks pregnant we were told Molly had a heart condition and would need open heart surgery after she was born and ran a 70% chance of having

down syndrome. So as you can imagine during the pregnancy there was a lot of hospital appointments, some short stays and tensions were high. Fortunately, Molly was born healthy with down syndrome at 39 weeks and her heart condition was better than expected so they scheduled surgery for 5 months time.


When we brought Molly home from the hospital when Joshua was around 18 months old we noticed he had become much quieter. His words were less, his eye contact slowly crept away and he wanted absolutely nothing to do with Molly. We put it down to jealousy of a new baby and didn’t over worry. But as time went on and I did more research we realised that he was actually regressing…quickly he lost all his words, all his babble, all his eye contact, all his play and all his appetite for food…..we had lost our little boy…to autism!


The more we lost the more autistic traits grew – he began to flap his arms and hands, have meltdowns at any new situation, going through shops was a nightmare – to the extent that we stopped going out, he began to eat only yellow food – chips, nuggets, waffles and minimal amounts. No fruit, no vegetables and not even chocolate would entice him – he lost weight rapidly and became pale and sullen. He would bounce on his knees for hours on end screeching … he would scream at any time for absolutely no reason – sometimes even looking like he was hearing voices and he stopped responding when we called his name. After ruling out hearing problems we finally got the official diagnosis of non verbal asd.


We accepted the diagnosis and committed to getting his therapies started asap. Through the HSE he began occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech therapy. It was a weekly

battle at any of these meetings but we persevered. They set out goals and objectives to try to do over the following year. But his progress was slow. He had started in a fantastic mainstream creche who were very understanding and flexible as he fairly much did his own thing and didn’t mix with the other children.




One day while Molly was having a check up at home by a nurse she could hear Joshua having a melt down in the other room – she asked me about him and if he had autism. She told me about her nephew who also had autism and asked me had I heard about CBD or Cannabis Oil? She told me that her sister had had great success with her son using the oil. I was willing to try anything! I had heard the name but knew nothing about it. I presumed when I heard the word cannabis that it was an hallucinogenic crazy drug that would make my son “stoned” so I decided to educate myself on it. She directed me to a Facebook page and group called The Cbds of Autism who were amazingly educated and helpful and I could read other parents journeys.


I discovered that CBD Oil is a natural, safe, non-hallucinogenic, widely used and above all legal and available to buy in stores or online in Ireland. I also found out that there are hundreds of oils with different strengths and every child being different it was going to take trial and error to get one that worked for his needs. It is also different the the THC version of cannabis oil which is the medical cannabis that is hugely successful in treating many conditions but still illegal in a lot of countries including Ireland.



After I convinced my partner and asked a lot of questions on the group I decided to give it a go! I went for what seemed to be one of the most popular oils on the page – Charlottes Web Original. We got it a

day later but decided to tell no one what we were doing. Day one – we gave him 4 drops of oil under the tongue – we had got mint chocolate flavour but I can tell

you here and now it tasted nothing like chocolate – it's vile! Luckily the taste didn’t bother Joshua – he took it in his stride and went off to creche. When I nervously went to collect him that evening I asked how his day was – to my shock they said fantastic he was in great form – and you’ll never guess what – he ate potatoes and carrots today!!! I nearly dropped on the spot – over a year without one ounce of vegetables and this on the first day?? It must be a fluke.


Day 2 – he ate Chile Con Carne

Day 3 – Spaghetti Bolognaise

Day 4 – Egg

Day 5 – Raisins and apple

And so it continued…..

By the end of the first week he was eating lots of different foods we were amazed!

By the end of week 2 we heard some babble – sounds that we had missed so much.

By the end of week 3 we had some eye contact back.


By the end of week 4 – the creche, the physio and the occupational therapists had called me aside to know what the hell was going on – he was meeting goals set for 6 months time! They were shocked but encouraging when I told them.


By the end of month 4 – his eye contact was fully back, his speech improved daily and he began imaginative play and interactive play with his friends in school.


By the end of Month 6 – he was kissing and hugging his little sister – helping to give her a bottle and play with her.


By the end of Month – all the bouncing stopped, he started sleeping the night, he was relaxed and happy to sit and watch tv or play without stimming or regulation.


As the weeks passed we adjusted his dosage up a little until we got to a good balance – gave him more on a bad day – less on a good day – but evened out to one dropper (approx. 1ml) every morning.


Out of curiosity I decided to try the oil myself – I don’t suffer with anxiety or get very stressed but running after 2 children with disabilities and a teenager to boot is hard work. Keeping up with all the appointments and clinics and going through 2 open heart surgeries with Molly was stressful. I also wanted to know – what does Joshua feel on the oil – he seemed to have no side effects but with such a successful reaction I was curious.




I started on CBD oil capsules and took them for a week – to be honest I didn’t feel any different – no side effects but did notice I was sleeping better and getting more done! When I stopped them after a week I definitely noticed a difference in my tolerance and stress levels and felt more sluggish. So I continued on them and am still on them – and what I find is they take the edge off a busy life plus I wake up in the morning with a to do list – and I get it done instead of it racing around my head all day.


And that’s how I think it works for Joshua – I think it reduces the sensory elements and anxieties that autism creates so he could clear his head to focus on being in our world

He is almost 2 years on it now – hes amazing – hes now making full sentences and is in speech therapy to help with pronunciation. He goes to an asd unit in preschool and getting on great and they have said that he can go to mainstream school now for primary – something we thought would never be possible.


He is totally interactive and even tries to make friends when we are at play barns or parties. He waves hello to strangers and waves goodbye to his friends. We can go to family occasions, to shops and to restaurants without too much stress. He eats practically everything and is a happy chatty boy again! I'm not saying CBD oil gets rid of autism. It doesn’t – it's still there and he still has odd bad days – but they are rare now. Some of his behaviour now is just that of a normal 4 year old – and we have to remind ourselves of that. But the symptoms are greatly reduced.



There has been such success with cbd oil around the world with lots of different disabilities but yet its still unspoken about. The current medical cannabis bill in Ireland has stalled completely. Although a limited amount of prescriptions have been given for epilepsy, chronic pain and one cancer patient, all neurodevelopmental disorders are excluded from the current bill as it stands. With one of the highest user rates in the world and growing daily, the Autism and disability groups are continuously left out of these bills, unless their children or loved ones happen to have a coexisting condition like epilepsy. While depression and anxiety top the list of users, the question must be asked, how many of those are parents

or carers of children with neurodevelopmental conditions. Another point of the bill is that cannabis is a last resort. So a parent must spend years using pharmaceutical prescriptions on their children, and for all avenues to be exhausted before cannabis is even considered as a possibility. Most families do not want to use years of pharmaceutical medicine first, and would like this as a first option and not the last. While families are not anti pharmaceutical, a balance must be found where parents are given a choice of either organic treatment, pharmaceutical treatment or a combination of both. But they are given no choice

with regards to any treatment at this time.


But for me – I got my little boy back! I hope now too that this story will help spread awareness of cbd oil and its benefits.


Unfortunately Charlottes Web is now unavailable in Europe for the foreseeable future so I have decided to try some new oils. The first oil I tried was Myriams Hope and while I saw good effects for Joshua it wasnt as good as his original oil. We are now trying a new Irish homegrown oil and are having unbelievable changes with it especially with speech. I will do a full piece on the changes soon but for now I'm documenting It daily on my Instagram stories so stay tuned!




Rhona x


Facebook Links:

https://m.facebook.com/groups/252716825164715?ref=share

https://www.facebook.com/thecbdsofautismire/

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