Lindsay Gaunt of Creston said she longed for the day to be called “Mom.”
After several years of trying to become parents, it finally happened for Gaunt and her husband Cory, when, in 2013, their first child, Obreigh, was born.
The couple was excited to become parents. However, as their daughter grew, so did signs of autism.
Gaunt said she didn’t realize her daughter’s behaviors were signs of autism; she just thought Obreigh did things her own way. However, when Obreigh was around 1 1/2 years old, the signs were clear.
The Gaunts eventually enlisted the help of the Green Hills Area Education Agency (AEA), and workers there suggested they have Obreigh tested. Just after her second birthday, Obreigh was diagnosed with nonverbal autism.
Around the age of four, Obreigh started using a communication device tablet from Talk To Me Technologies, which enabled her to use words to communicate. Through pressing a series of buttons, she began to spell words and form sentences, which complimented the sign language she also used to communicate. However, she still couldn’t speak.
During the past six years, Obreigh’s has experienced chronic anxiety, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), severe physical aggression with self-harming behaviors, and Pica – an eating disorder that involves eating items that are not typically thought of as food – which has caused her to eat things such as stickers and tape.
In August 2018, the Gaunts filed their first petition with the Iowa Medical Board after a year of research and years of documenting Obreigh’s autism journey to permit the use of cannabidiol oil, or CBD for pediatric autism.
Gaunt, who suffers from epilepsy, said she had read about benefits of CBD for certain conditions and follows message boards in online support groups for parents of children with autism, where other patients and parents discuss their experience with CBD.
After communicating with other parents and discussing it with her daughter’s doctors, she felt trying CBD sounded promising and couldn’t be much worse for her daughter than the side effects suffered from her regular daily medications.
During its public meeting in February, the Iowa Board of Medicine voted unanimously to add “severe, intractable pediatric autism with self-injurous or aggressive behavior” to the list of conditions treatable by CBD.
The Gaunts immediately started Obreigh on CBD May 1, when she received her medical card. According to Gaunt, the results were astonishing. Within two weeks, her parents witnessed the difference.
“My nonverbal daughter with severe autism and physical aggressive behavior is talking, playing pretend, singing and engaging,” said Gaunt.
Gaunt said, now, Obreigh sings songs and repeats any words or phrases she’s asked to. Obreigh now sings “Rock-a-bye Baby” to her younger sister Piper and sang “B-I-N-G-O” for her grandparents.
Gaunt compared the improvements her and her husband have observed in their daughter to a light switch flipped on for the very first time.
“It’s dim, but we see it getting brighter every day,” she said.
Gaunt has created a YouTube channel titled “CBD4ASD” to document Obreigh’s progress and to share their experience with other parents.
“It’s just jaw dropping,” said Gaunt. “It’s something that we have always hoped and dreamed for her, but a small part of me was scared things like this might not ever happen for her. For this to be happening so fast is just remarkable.”