No grass beneath her feet. No shoes either. No loud or sudden noises and minimal stimulation.
This was only the beginning of an extensive list of triggers that Waldwick's Chiara Agudelo says sent her 3-year-old daughter, Audrey, into full-blown panic attacks.
Agudelo has tried of variety of therapies over the years to address her daughter's sensory processing disorder. In May, she turned to cannabidiol (CBD) oil, an extract from the marijuana plant.
"Audrey has been doing phenomenally," the happy mother said. "She lets me brush her hair and braid it. She wants to put shoes on and go to the mall. CBD oil has given her the boost that she's needed."
Derived from hemp, CBD oil is believed to have therapeutic benefits for a myriad of ailments, including epilepsy, anxiety and insomnia.
Agudelo feels safe with the treatment: The type of oil she uses doesn't have THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the mind-altering chemical responsible for marijuana's psychological effects. It's legal in New Jersey.
At the federal level, CBD is technically covered under the Agricultural Act of 2014, although there has been some ambiguity around it.
According to DEA Spokesperson Rusty Payne, the Farm Bill permits CBD research only -- not marketing or sales.
Vendors or manufacturers who use the legislation as justification to pitch the oil "run the risk of arrest and prosecution," Payne said.
The good news for Agudelo -- and millions of others who are seeing the benefits of CBD oil -- is that the DEA wouldn't use federal resources "to go after a mother because her child has epileptic seizures and has found something that can help and has helped," Payne told an Indiana news station.
Audrey's first Christmas was spent isolated with her mother in a room shaking and rocking back and forth.
"That was extremely overwhelming," Agudelo said. "There were people everywhere and nowhere to really breathe. I was just sitting there with her crying. I didn't know how to help."
An evaluation later indicated Audrey had a gross motor delay.
She started early intervention and began hitting some milestones. Still, there was a laundry list of events that would leave the baby shaking and crying -- as she was on Christmas.
Each week consisted of six hours of therapy: occupational, physical and speech.
It was becoming too much for Agudelo to handle.
"I had been reading up on CBD oil for so long but didn't know if I wanted to take the plunge and try it," the mom said. "It's a big topic with special needs moms and would be the first step into treating children in different ways from therapy."
Audrey's doctors were neither for nor against it. They told Agudelo that if she thought it would help, then she could try it. If it didn't, she would simply have to continue with therapies.
The reward seemed greater than the risk for Agudelo, who started Audrey on less than the recommended dosage -- three drops daily.
Within 30 days, she said, she saw a dramatic change.
Now, Audrey receives five drops a day -- two in the morning and three at night.
"I wouldn't use the term 'magic pill' because that implies that she's cured and it's all behind us," her mother said. "But in conjunction with her therapy regimen, it's been a great improvement. It's allowing her to live instead of be."
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