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Autism Spectrum Disorder & Medicinal Cannabis

Presented by Professor Kylie O'Brien, PhD. This learning module is suitable for healthcare practitioners with an interest in learning about medicinal cannabis. 

About this module:

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex behavioural condition beginning in early childhood, continuing throughout life, and the signs and symptoms occur on a spectrum. It has a complex aetiology and pathophysiology, however there is evidence that the endocannabinoid system is involved, and that medicinal cannabis might play a role in treatment. This presentation will explore what ASD is, its aetiology and pathogenesis, how the endocannabinoid system might be involved and what evidence there is that CBD and THC might be able to help treat ASD, in particular the behavioural aspects of the condition. Dosing strategies are also provided for clinicians.

This is a deep dive into the science and is suitable for healthcare practitioners and those with a background in biomedical sciences. 
Learning Outcomes

At the end of this module, learners will be able to:

  • Describe the key core symptoms/signs associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
  • Briefly describe the aetiological factors associated with ASD.
  • Critique the evidence base in relation to potential for medicinal cannabis to be efficacious in the treatment of ASD.
  • Explain some of the prescribing considerations in using CBD to treat someone with ASD. 

Professor Kylie O'Brien, PhD

Professor Kylie O’Brien PhD is an Adjunct Professor at Torrens University. She has a strong academic career in the fields of Chinese medicine, integrative medicine, and, since 2018, in medicinal cannabis. She has worked for the Victorian Department of Human Services, and held senior leadership roles in the university and private education sector. An internationally recognised expert in Chinese medicine and integrative medicine, she has published extensively, including a book on integrative oncology (US: Springer, 2017). Kylie’s second book, with co-author Dr Philip Blair, O’Brien K, Blair P, Medicinal Cannabis and CBD in Mental Healthcare, Springer, 2021 has now been published (Springer). She is a member of the Australian government’s Tertiary Education and Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) Expert Panel and a previous member of the TGA Advisory Committee for Complementary Medicines.

Kylie has been leading doctor education on medicinal cannabis in Australia since 2018. Her courses were the first to receive RACGP Category 1 CPD accreditation. She also set up the pathway via the National Institute of Integrative Medicine Ethics Committee for doctors to apply to become authorised prescribers of medicinal cannabis under the TGA’s Authorised Prescriber Scheme.
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