“People who don’t live severe autism can’t really understand what it means. It’s life in the shadow of hell,” says Israeli Abigail Dar, mother to 23 year old Yuval, who began showing signs of autism at the age of 18 months. Yuval is one of a growing number of children being diagnosed with autism.

Convinced that the antipsychotic drugs were worsening Yuval’s condition, his parents decided to seek alternative treatment, finding anecdotal reports that autistic children responded well to medical cannabis.

Living in Israel, the Dars are lucky enough to reside in a country that is at the epicentre of research into medical cannabis. Indeed, the scientist considered the biggest trailblazer in the field, Raphael Mechoulam, is in fact Israeli. Israel’s Department of Health includes a Medical Cannabis Unit, whereby patients with qualifying conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s, and MS can obtain a permit to use medical cannabis.

Despite this, in Israel autism is not an approved qualifying condition and doctors are on the whole unwilling to prescribe cannabis.

“When I started with Yuval, I had to appeal and he got his medical cannabis card under a mercy treatment. I mean they had no mercy giving him all these anti-psychotic drugs, but in order to get the cannabis he had to qualify for mercy treatment.”

However, as soon as Yuval began taking medical cannabis, the effect was immediate.

“It was like magic. My son became a calm person, more concentrated, having a smile on his face. And over a year, he didn’t show any self injurious behaviour or any outbursts, which for me and for him is a miracle. It was life changing.”

You can listen to the full interview with Yuval’s mother below.