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Aaron Orsini - How LSD Helped Bridge the ASD Neurotypical Divide

Psychedelics Today

Release Date: 01/21/2020

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More Episodes

This disclaimer was originally posted in our episode, Treating Social Anxiety in Adults with Autism with MDMA and LSD – Voices in the Dark, and it feels important to post it on this episode as well. 

Caution/Disclaimer

A few important notes. This is an episode of an individual experimenting with powerful drugs to see if he can get any sort of relief from autism. In this case, it appears to have been successful. That said, this came with a substantial amount of risks, and people need to be aware. Please read the below bullets so you understand. 

  • Autism is not what is treated. The thing being treated would be a symptom like social anxiety.
  • "The field of autism science includes a long and shameful history of quack treatments and parents taking desperate and harmful measures to “fix” their children. Autism is a spectrum of congenital and neurocognitive variants, and there are no published research data in support of any compound that can influence its course." Alicia Danforth, PhD
  • Please do not administer these drugs to children with autism. It would be highly unethical to do so. 
  • There are only two researchers investigating where MDMA and autism meet - Alicia Danforth PhD and Dr. Charlie Grob. A scientific paper will likely be available on this in the next few months. Expect to see more here. 
  • These drugs have not been shown to cure or treat autism, but in some cases, just like with neuro-typical individuals, some have seen meaningful changes. 
  • Even if changes are noticed the person is still autistic no matter how many high doses of psychedelics they take.
  • Obtaining pure drugs is very difficult if not impossible in black markets.
    • Verifying purity will require the resources of mass spectrometry from organizations offering these services like Energy Control or Ecstasy Data
    • Providing unsafe, dirty or compromised drugs to people can cause serious harm or death.
  • If you are planning to use MDMA to alleviate some suffering on your own, please wait or don't.
  • Do substantial research and have skilled people available to help. 

Thanks to Alicia Danforth for helping us understand the nuance's in this area.


..autism is a genetically determined cognitive variant. It's pervasive, and it affects the whole person, not just the brain. No chemical compound has been shown to treat, cure, or alter the course of autism. However, for some people, substances like MDMA can help them manage symptoms such as anxiety, social anxiety, and trauma effects. - Alicia Danforth, Ph.D


In this episode, Joe sits down with Aaron Orsini, Author of Autism on Acid. In this powerful episode, Aaron shares his moving story on how LSD gave him life-saving relief from his struggles with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

3 Key Points:

  1. Aaron spent the first 20+ years of his life suffering from the struggles of Autism Spectrum Disorder. He changed his life in an unexpected way through the use of LSD.
  2. LSD gave Aaron the emotional installation of perception to see the stimuli in life that he had been blind from because of his disorder.
  3. Aaron is the author of the book, Autism on Acid, a self told story on his autistic perceptions before, during and after his LSD experience. He goes into great depth on his experience in the show.

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Show Notes

About Aaron

  • A large part of his psychedelic journey stems from his Autism
  • His diagnosis didn't affect him in school so much as it affected him in his adult years with socialization
  • His childhood friends were more based on similar shared activities
  • When he was thrusted into more social situations, he had more issues with non-repetitive and non-scheduled socialization
    • He was anxious in the idea that he would go into avoidance, he wasn't very afraid, just more confused
    • Most of his knowledge was based on repetition and memorization, it was harder to navigate new or unique social scenarios
    • Social vertigo is how he described his experience
  • His doctor told him to read some books, and he felt like he was reading a journal on his own life

A Transition Point

  • Aaron left his job
    • A relationship he was in ended
    • A friend of his was killed by a drunk driver
  • He was in a dark place, and he wanted to retreat
    • He didn't know what he needed, he just wanted to leave
  • He got a backpack and a bike and headed west toward California
  • He had an opportunity to try LSD
    • He thought it was going to be an escape, and it ended up being the most involved experience of his life
    • He sat on a tree stump in a wooded area, finally noticing everything that had been there his whole life that he hadn't seen before
    • He saw the beauty in literally being alive
    • He sat there and cried for an hour or two, it was a lot
  • Aaron eventually got up, and started walking and saw some people walking and he had an urge to say hello, so he did, and they said “hello, how are you” back
    • He describes it as a sensation of a child riding a bike for the first time
    • Them saying “hello, how are you” to him, was the first time he experienced someone saying hello to him and him feeling it
    • It was like a def person getting a cochlear implant and hearing for the first time
    • It kick started his exploration of the world around him

Integration

  • His LSD experience was about 6 years ago, and he didn't know much about LSD at the time
    • He didn't know what to do with his experience
  • In the beginning, he felt as if he would go into it, see everything very clearly, and then back out of it again, and things felt more muted and ‘blurry’
    • I was utilizing LSD, not for a sub-perceptive, metabolic effect, I was going for a supra-perceptive effect” - Aaron
  • Aaron was taking at or slightly above the threshold dose amount (20-50micrograms)
    • For someone who already had sensitivity issues, it was very apparent when he would take ‘too much’
  • In no way is he advocating someone to repeat what he has done, he wants it more to spark interest in researchers to find more data on this in the hopes to find relief for others

Emotional Installation

  • LSD has helped me understand myself and embrace that” - Aaron
  • Aaron said he's willing to take a risk to not be anonymous, because it's not some simple thing, it's so important, it's the most important thing to him
  • He gets emails all the time saying the same thing has happened to them, but they want to stay anonymous
  • Aaron says it has changed his relationships with his loved ones, the fact that he has this new depth of feeling has changed his relationships dramatically
  • The main treatments for kids with autism was to help the caretaker, to help the child not fidget when they sleep
    • Aaron says he needed to fidget, he needed to squirm around
    • “If you can't hear, and someone is telling you over and over again ‘listen, listen, listen’, how are you going to begin to listen? That’s the void that LSD filled.” - Aaron
  • He fell in love with parts of himself that he didn't get a chance to before
  • Every other form of therapy was coming from the outside and telling him what to feel, LSD was the only therapy that came from the inside
  • He mentions a quote from a documentary on someone who used truffles to help them, “Truffles installed emotionality in me”

Hope for Research

  • There were studies done with LSD on autistic children in hospital settings before the drug prohibition
    • The results showed the kids changing so fast and so effectively
  • It's a difficult topic, ASD research in general is heavily funded by the government
  • Autism aside, the older you are in life, the more surprised you are when that veil is lifted for a moment
  • The risk that he is taking is nothing compared to the significance of what good this has a chance of bringing
  • It's not a desired risk to come out as an Autistic person, and especially as one who has taken controlled substances to heal from it

Links

Autism on Acid: How LSD Helped Me Bridge The ASD-Neurotypical Divide  

Website 

Email: autismonacid@gmail.com


About Aaron Orsini

Aaron Paul Orsini is a writer, public speaker, and survivor of a decades-long battle with clinical depression resulting from social isolation, mental rumination, and hypo-sensitivity issues common in autistic individuals. When Aaron was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of 23, he took comfort in receiving a diagnosis but remained deeply depressed as a result of seeing himself as broken and blind; someone who just couldn’t and wouldn’t “get it”. But then came his first experience with LSD, during which he became intuitively aware of the very stimuli he’d been incapable of perceiving throughout his life. Thanks to LSD---and a yet-to-be-fully-understood combination of chemically-induced synesthesia and associated fluctuations in intrinsic functional connectivity within the salience and default mode networks, Aaron can now perceive critical social cues embedded in facial expressions, speaking tones, and body language, which in turn means he feels fully connected to the human experience, and fully capable of navigating the social and emotional landscapes of life.

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