I am a parent of a daughter who has struggled all her life to fit in to the main stream of society. When she was in grade school, autism wasn't talked about very much. Instead, anyone like my daughter was classified as having a disability and there was even a time when her teachers and fellow students thought she did not speak English. This left my daughter at the sidelines in school isolated and alone. In middle school her shyness continued, she was bullied, and many teased her for being on drugs, so she continued to be sidelined and isolated.
Being a person "on the spectrum" presents huge challenges for the child and for their parents who have the task to raise their loved one from toddler stage into their adulthood and beyond. For parents, the ultimate goal is to help guide them on how to navigate the complicated world we live in, and to help give them the resources to learn to communicate as optimally as possible. The complexities of challenges are endless and are exacerbated for families with limited incomes and the availability of resources such as the professionals who have the expertise to help: Occupational and speech therapists and psychiatrists and group homes. The goal for me was to develop a tool that can be used by both professionals and parents in .
There is a new term called "scent craft" that I read about recently in the March issue of WGSN Intelligence Report regarding an educator in the UK using scent to help educate her young students. The description of her kits are similar to my multi sensory kit, and so my first reaction was WOW! Someone else in this world has the same line of thinking as I did when I developed MindScent®...an extension of the Essential Awakenings® Smell and Memory Kits! The article solidified my belief that there is a future for MindScent® and the methods for use that I developed with the guidance of an SLP and an educational director at an autism center down in Brooklyn, NY in 2018.
The stars became aligned when in early April, a young freelance writer named Astrid Bonner wrote to me to ask if she could contribute to my blog, and I accepted. Even though the portion included below speaks more about aromatherapy (as the general population knows it), it also includes the term aroma therapy. What's the difference? Please read on, and you'll find out.
Effects of Aromatherapy for Children With Autism:
Children with autism often have sensory abnormalities. A study found that 40% of these children have altered smell perception. The same study confirmed that children with autism present impaired odor identification despite having normal odor detection. However, more research still needs to be done on when altered olfaction (scent processing) occurs. It’s possible that the difficulty with odor identification may be caused by impaired neural mechanisms or by language problems in the common odor task. This led to a slew of specialists, including occupational therapists (OTs) and speech-language pathologists (SLPs), to integrate olfactory sniffing and aromatherapy into their treatment plans.
Aromatherapy using essential oil blends has been proven effective in helping children with autism manage symptoms like hyperactivity, sensory overload stress, and anger. Dr. Jill Hollway, Research Assistant Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Health at The Ohio State University attributes this benefit to the oils' inherent soothing properties. However, she suspects that aromatherapy using certain blends of essential oils can be more effective in helping kids transition to bedtime, a common challenge for children on the autism spectrum.
When used in conjunction with visuals, aromatherapy helps ease stress and anxiety in children with autism spectrum disorder, as seen in the UPMC Children's Harrisburg sensory station. They use a projector to show calming scenes while having an aromatherapy diffuser expel relaxing scents.
In a column published in the Herald-Chronicle, Nikki Shrum talks about...
This is happiness: "I lost my sense of smell and taste when I had COVID in March. Several months later, I was surprised to still not be able to smell and taste. The world seems a bit flat and uninteresting without those two senses. Luckily, I contacted Ruth and she sent me her wonderful smelling kit. The variety of scents and the easy use of the applicators motivated me to use the kit fairly regularly. A doctor explained it to me like this: When you injure your leg, you do physical therapy to regain your strength and agility. This is like physical therapy for your sense of smell. Both taste and smell have improved greatly with the use of the oils, but taste is definitely in the lead. I've still got a ways to go until I fully recover, but this lovely kit has speeded up the process for sure. Many thanks to Ruth and The Scent Guru Group!" - Cristina Y., L.C.S.W. Connecticut
The holiday shopping season is here, and I'll be showcasing MindScent® and Essential Awakenings® sensory tool kits at this week's WBDC's Pop Up Shop in Stamford, Connecticut. Even though I've developed MindScent® and Essential Awakenings® for Speech, Occupational and Recreational Therapists, families can also benefit and have fun playing smell and tell, or guessing games. MindScent® also includes fact cards great for learning. For instance, did you know that the Providence, RI metro area has been cited as having the most donut shops per capita with 25.3 shops per 100,000 people? And that it takes almost 3 years for a single pineapple to reach maturation?
Shifting Paradigms: This month's final blog is about my experience at the National ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) convention in Orlando. Every new experience is new learning for this 60+ entrepreneur who is just trying to help humankind in a very unique and innovative way.
When I recall the years growing up with a brother born with severe Down Syndrome, I often think how heartbreaking and difficult it was for my mother to take care of the rest of her children on top of taking care of Patrick, who at the age of 7, was like a baby. I remember feeding him peanut and butter sandwiches while he stood in his crib, his hands holding onto the sides to balance himself while I gave him portions of the sandwich one pinch at a time. Back when I was a kid, there weren't any resources for children born with this serious condition, and children who were as disabled as Patrick, were often put into institutions. I'll never forget the day when my parents drove him away from our family farm to take him to a hospital down in Little Rock for an operation on his heart. That was the last time I saw Patrick. Shortly after he left our home, my parents told my siblings and me that he had died before his operation. October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and I will follow up on this bit of my life next month.
For this month's blog, I will be sharing interviews I've conducted with mothers who graciously accepted to share part of their life as a parent taking care of a child living with Autism. The first interview is with Brita Darany von Regensburg who came to the United States from Germany in 1968, and is a mother of Vanessa (who you may have seen on The Scent Guru Group's Facebook Page). Vanessa has Level 3 Autism, and is a now a grown woman. According to Brita, she was not always ASD. Here is her story:
Ruth: You are a mother of a non-verbal autistic woman, Vanessa. Please tell us a little about her.
Brita: She was diagnosed when she was 3, which was unusual since most pediatricians in those days did not know the symptoms. She lost her speech when she was about 11 months old. By 16 months, she did not say words anymore. At first, I realized “why doesn’t she say apple? Or “opa” which means grandpa in German. We were living in Riverdale, NY, and we were by the pool one day, and she suddenly screamed her head off...being afraid of the water and the pool. One of our friends who lived in the same building (who was a doctor) recommended we go to a doctor and so we went to Mt. Sinai where she was observed for a week and the doctor --Dr. Allan Arron (who is no longer living) came in every morning with a team of young doctors and they observed Vanessa would follow me like a little lamb, and that’s when they said the diagnosis was Autism and with symbiosis.
Ruth: What are some of your major concerns for Vanessa and her future?
Brita: I have to live forever! I cannot die. Thank god I’m in very good health. What’s going to happen to her after I’m gone? We (my husband and I) were instrumental in having the state open the first Autism group home for adults in Trumbull. We selected the care provider, RHD (Resources for Human Development) who is based in Philadelphia with branches in almost every state. This is a house in a nice neighborhood with lawns etc, We had a mixed staff, and over the last 19 years we have collaborated with the agency, and the home is now a home where we have a very caring staff. After I am gone, my hopes are to continue to be able to have a caring staff (there) that will continue to do things with Vanessa that she is interested in doing such as interacting, so that she has a more normal life. The house and the care of others are dependent on social systems like Medicaid.
Ruth: How do you see the need for change in the support of people living with disabilities such as Autism?
Brita: We need to make sure that the basic elements of good life for our children with Autism are maintained, and that the staff receives more thorough training with consistency, depending on what works or does not work for children who are verbal and non-verbal. Increase in Medicaid support and continued SSI and Medicaid payments for higher functioning children or for those who have acquired skills that give...
The summer has just begun and even though Essential Awakenings® Smell And Memory and Mindscent® kits are sold on my website, I own the inventory, so I'm thrilled to say I have just received and shipped my first Mindscent® order to one of my distributors yesterday. The key to success is not only sales, but good customer and supplier service.
Read about the 10 important facts you need to know about The Scent Guru Group's new innovative multi-sensory activity kit that has been developed with Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Educators and families in mind. With 125 components, it was a true labor of love with many challenges to hurdle.
In honor of those suffering from dementia such as Alzheimer's: June is Alzheimer's and brain health awareness month, and The Scent Guru Group is offering 20% off of any Essential Awakenings® Smell and Memory or Mindscent® activity kit using the discount code HOMECARE2019 at checkout.