One of my favourite parts of the 1-2-1 therapy side of my job is parent training.
I love being able to support parents to help their child overcome social, emotional and behavioural mishaps.
Being the supporting arm of a family for just 12 weeks but making a humongous difference to their lives.
While I help parents of facing a wide range of difficulties in the past few months the numbers of parent's of children with Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) reaching out to the service has been very high.
In fact 75% of our parents in the past few months have had children with ASC.
For me this says 2 things:
1. Our name is getting out there in a positive way & we're being referred to as the 'go-to-service' by past families.
2. There are still many other families who haven't heard of our work and are struggling to support their child.
While some families will absolutely need the full intensive 12 week program many wont.
So this blog is for you guys.
For those families who are having a little bit of a blip at the moment but are on the whole functional.
This blog will help you gain an understanding of an extremely useful tool in overcoming common difficulties in children with ASC.
Most often parents are struggling to deal with these 3 issues:
I'll cover each one separately so you can just skip right ahead to the one you need.
Many parents are struggling to either get their child to sleep, or get them to stay asleep for longer than 5/6 hours.
Now, your child's age will determine the amount of sleep (s)he needs but usually children (and teenagers), need between 10 & 16 hours sleep every night.
Children who are not getting enough sleep will have a diminished ability to think, concentrate and regulate their moods.
So, as you can see getting the right amount of sleep is really important.
Oils to help:
There are a few oils which can help your child get a good nights sleep and sometimes having a combination of 2-3 oils can be the thing you need to put them out so you can get a full nights sleep.
What my families do:
Families I work with either use the essential oil in a diffuser over night, or include a foot massage in the night time routine.
Diffusers are safe to use and leave on in children's bedrooms because they have automatic shut off's and diffuse the oil into the air using cold water.
Incorporating oils into a foot massage before bed can be a great way to help you both relax because as you're rubbing the oil into their feet you're also getting a dose of the relaxing oil! It's also a great way to build up a bond with your child.
Many children with ASC have difficulties adjusting to new routines or are sensitive to crowded areas.
It's easy to see this as a unique trait of ASC but it is in fact something very pertinent to us all.
Most of us feel safe when we know what is going to happen next and feel anxious when we are dealing with the unknown.
The difference, we usually know how to express our fear and anxieties in a productive way whereas children with ASC (and particularly those who are non-communicative), will resort to angry outbursts which can in some instances be extremely violent.
Oils to help:
Many oils which sit in this category are also reflected in the 'sleep' section above simply because in both instances what you're trying to do is to calm and relax.
The age of your child will determine which oils are suitable as well as the method of delivery.
What my families do:
Families who are being supported to reduce anxieties around routines use the oils as part of the intervention process. By diffusing the oil for a couple of minutes before introducing the change to a routine the child is already in a calm and relaxed state.
It's also important to keep a calm and friendly manner when introducing changes if you are anxious about making changes your child will pick up on this and this will make them even more anxious.
Remember, the oils aren't just for your child - use them on yourself first if you need to!
Many children who have ASC are developmentally delayed meaning they have a lower ability to think and concentrate than their actual age.
As we grow up our natural ability to concentrate on something increases but because this is not the case in children with developmental delay, when they're 10 they may only have the ability to focus their attention at the same rate as a 2 year old.
We all know that often children who are 2 will play with a toy for 5 minutes then find another one, and another one, then another one...
This can be quite exhausting on everyone!
Also, in order for your child to catch up developmentally they will need to increase the time they can focus their attention.
For example, if a child is only able to focus their attention to drawing for 5 minutes at a time it will take twice as long to increase skills such as fine motor (small movements with our hands) or hand eye co-ordination, compared to a child who can sit for 10 minutes at a time.
Oils to help:
There are some awesome oils which can help your child focus their attention for longer:
Again - their age will determine the most appropriate oil.
What my families do:
It's important to stage any increases in focused attention.
If your child has only ever sat for 5 minutes going for 10 may be near impossible and we don't want your child to fail at the first hurdle.
Diffusing the oils to increase concentration is a great way to help your child. Just have the oil pumping away in the background so you can focus your attention on helping your child keep their concentration on what they're doing.
Using the diffiuser also enables you to have an increased level of concentration. Trust me - sometimes you will need it!
Stagger the time in minute increments over the space of weeks. For example, use the oil and then try to sit for 1 minute longer. When (s)he can maintain the increased time for 3-4 days then add another minute. Keep going and you'll be amazed at just how long your child can focus their attention on something!
I'm sure you will have noticed that many of the oils cross over (e.g., lavender appears for all 3).
This is really important to remember because while some people will tell you that you need a separate oil for all these different things what usually transpires is a combination of 3-4 oils will support you (or your child) in all aspects of their life.
Have a wonderful day & happy oiling - Katie.
p.s. If you’re open to learning how to use essential oils to do loads of other neat things and support your body and mind with everything it gets up to then click the link below to go to a free mini-wellness consult
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Katie Woodland - A developmental, and holistic psychologist who specialises in educating and empowering individuals, business leaders & school teachers to remove mental health as a barrier to success.