There is a growing community of neurodivergent and autistic folks using psychedelics, but how does it help them? We took a deep look at the growing body of research and anecdotes to find out.

Current estimates have it that between 1-2% of the world’s population is autistic. In addition to higher levels of social anxiety, depression, and ADHD, autistic individuals meet unique challenges as they seek effective therapeutic treatment methods available to them; psychedelic-assisted therapy is now seen as an attractive alternative for this often sidelined and marginalized population.

There are promising signs that indicate psychedelics could help autistic individuals manage social anxiety, recover from trauma, reduce depression and anxiety, as well as work through the unique hurdles on their path. However it may be the case that for people with lower-functioning capabilities, psychedelics might not have nearly the same effect. Despite innumerable anecdotal reports from individuals who have benefited from psychedelics in a multitude of ways, there is still a significant lack of research regarding how psychedelics could be useful for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnoses.

One of the principal aims of the study was to explore the safety of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for reduction of social fear and avoidance for individuals with ASD, finding no evidence of harm to participants. Although the study was small in size, recruiting only 12 participants, results were promising. Participants took part in two full-day sessions in which they were either given MDMA or a placebo. The study used the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale to measure changes in social anxiety. Subjects who received MDMA showed a significantly greater reduction in social anxiety than the placebo group. Reductions in social anxiety symptoms were long-lasting, still holding true at a 6-month follow-up.

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