Meet (left to right) Angel, Juanita & Ed from the New York City Department of Education. I first met this fantastic team of SLPs and educators 3 years ago at my first #NYSSLHA Convention in Albany, where I was introducing the MindScent® Smell.Discover.Connect multi sensory kit developed for educators and Speech Therapists. It was a huge thrill for me to see them again at this year's convention in Tarrytown since COVID hit us hard in early 2020. Before developing MindScent®, I was not aware of the huge amount of the invaluable scope of work that Speech Therapists/Pathologists do for people of all age groups living with various diseases and impairments. Kudos to this fantastic group of professionals who have been giving me such great positive reinforcement and a wealth of feedback that have allowed me to discover all the various uses that MindScent® has to offer. Without their enthusiasm and interest in what I have created, I may not have been able to continue the work that I dove into in 2017 developing The Scent Guru Group and sensory kits for wellbeing.
How Aromas Can Be Used In The Treatment and Education For Children With Autism And Learning Disabilities
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...
While MindScent® Smell.Discover.Connect kit was initially developed for SLPs and educators, it can also be a great learning and discovery activity the entire family can enjoy together during this challenging time of "Stay Home, Stay Safe".