Kalel Santiago was a nonverbal child with autism. That means that his condition left him unable to communicate his thoughts, needs, and desires. Like the other 25 percent of children with autism spectrum disorder who can’t speak, Kalel was struggling.

Not only that, but the 9-year-old has already survived neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer, and the chemo and radiation treatments that ensued. Kalel’s life has been tough, and lucky for Kalel, his parents are working to do whatever it takes to improve his quality of life.

That’s why they tried treating him with cannabidiol, or CBD, oil. It’s a type of cannabis (or hemp) extract with no known psychoactive qualities, and it’s been shown to radically decrease the incidence of seizures in children. CBD oil has also historically been therapeutic for children with autism.

After Kalel had been medicated with the twice-a-day spray oil supplement, something amazing happened:

He started to speak.

“He surprised us in school by saying the vowels, A-E-I-O-U. It was the first time ever,” Kalel’s father, Abiel Gomez Santiago, told Yahoo! Parenting. “You can’t imagine the emotion we had, hearing Kalel’s voice for the first time. It was amazing.”

The family lives in Puerto Rico, where they were able to sample the product, made by the California-based company Hemp Health. But not all families can afford their children the chance at cannabis therapy — although the lucky ones have managed to move to places like Colorado, where medical and recreational marijuana are legal for adults to buy and use. Still, the products cost money, especially for the higher doses that may be necessary to treat some conditions.

Do you think that kids like Kalel should get the chance to try medications that could drastically change their lives for the better? How do you think we can make these products more affordable? Leave a comment to let us know your thoughts.

[Photo: Santiago family via Yahoo! Parenting]

Join the Conversation