Psychedelics were once thought to provide fun trips and little else. Now, we know that psychedelics have the potential to provide a variety of benefits. One of the most exciting aspects of psychedelics is just how far those benefits can reach, providing support and relief for a variety of conditions. Novel applications for psychedelics are constantly being discovered, unearthing new potential and offering unique, innovative treatment options for various groups.
One of the groups that have the potential to benefit from psychedelics is those living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Let’s dive deeper into this and examine how psychedelics could potentially unlock new treatment possibilities for individuals with this diagnosis. It’s essential to note that there is still a large amount that needs to be learned about this topic, but let’s go over the research that’s currently being done and what the scientific community does now know.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a collection of diagnoses that have two similarities: brain diversity and an impact on social interactions. It is these differences in the brain that can manifest themselves as ASD symptoms. It’s estimated that 1-2% of the population has this diagnosis.
It’s important to note that there are various degrees of symptom severity. Some individuals may be able to mask their symptoms to the point of them being indistinguishable, while others have more prevalent impacts.
Common ASD symptoms include difficulties with social situations, repetitive behaviors, not meeting childhood developmental milestones on an appropriate timeline, and hyperactive behavior. Recognizing the signs of ASD is not always easy, as this condition can go undiagnosed.
In order for an individual to receive an ASD diagnosis, they’ll need to be evaluated by a professional. This expert will typically run a variety of tests and then provide a diagnosis that is appropriate for the situation. Getting an ASD diagnosis can mean access to more treatment types and increased support.
Treatments for ASD have evolved over the years, as more knowledge is found about this diagnosis and activists play a role in raising awareness and research funding. Lately, researchers are curious about the applications that psychedelics could have for those with ASD.
Psychedelics and ASD
The combination of psychedelics and ASD is one that is currently being researched and examined more thoroughly. Scientists are still learning more about both of these areas, as societal prejudices and lack of funding have previously halted research into these two areas.
There are a few potential applications of psychedelics for those with ASD. One possibility is that psychedelics can positively impact social interactions and emotional identification.
Aaron Orsini is an adult that has been diagnosed with autism. He has had psychedelic experiences and noted a variety of benefits. Interestingly, he feels that psychedelics help him to identify and understand emotions, an act that is often impaired in individuals with ASD. He also noted that psychedelics helped him not only identify his own emotions but also connect with the emotions of others.
It’s commonly known that psychedelics can have a powerful connection to emotions. However, new applications for this potential are constantly being realized. This application of psychedelics can be extremely useful for individuals with ASD, allowing them to sort through their personal emotions and better identify with the emotions of those around them.
When discussing how psychedelics and ASD can be correlated, it’s essential to mention the neurochemical processes occurring. The serotonin system within the brain is one that’s complex and responsible for a variety of processes. In individuals with ASD, the serotonin system can play an important role in brain development. In fact, those with autism have fundamental differences in their serotonin system compared to individuals without autism.
So if those with ASD can have a varied serotonin system, how does that relate to psychedelics?
Many of the psychedelics that are commonly known, such as LDS, rely heavily on the serotonin system to exert their effects. An article sought to examine the applications of psychedelics for those with ASD. It noted the potential for psychedelics to help with some behavioral symptoms that can typically occur in those with autism.
Individuals with autism can experience high levels of anxiety as a result of social situations. It’s possible that psychedelics could help when it comes to coping with this anxiety. Being able to prepare for social situations effectively can benefit mental health and result in a reduction in ASD symptoms.
We’ve already gone over some of the benefits that psychedelics can provide for those with ASD. But what about individuals that have additional diagnoses?
Co-occurring disorders, that is diagnoses that exist alongside ASD, present an even wider potential for the impacts of psychedelics. Because of their far-reaching implications, psychedelics present even more possibilities when there are additional diagnoses.
One text sought to examine the prospect of psychedelics impacting those with ASD and an additional diagnosis. The authors of the paper noted that because ASD can have genetic implications, some previously believed that psychedelics could not help it. Instead, these researchers believe that psychedelics have a wide application for other diagnoses that individuals may have.
From depression and anxiety to trauma, psychedelics can provide a unique treatment option for those that have ASD. Being able to apply the benefits of psychedelics to multiple conditions is a goal that’s still being realized.
It’s likely that psychedelics could be beneficial for those that have ASD. However, before broad recommendations can be made and more treatment options are developed, extensive research needs to continue being done. More needs to be learned both about psychedelics and the neurobiology of those with ASD.
One of the biggest things that need to be researched is the differences in synaptic functioning of those with ASD. It’s likely that those with ASD have synapses that function in ways that vary from the synapses of those without ASD. Because psychedelics rely heavily on synaptic functions, it’s essential that this question is answered in order for therapeutic options to be developed safely.