Thursday, February 07, 2019

The Ultimate Guide to Using Essential Oils for Autism

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The ultimate guide to autism and essential oils, including a list of the best essential oils for autism, some autism essential oil blend ideas, and essential oil safety tips.

With autism, you encounter anger, anxiety, meltdowns, lack of sleep, poor focus, problems concentrating...the list goes on, right? 

Just yesterday I found bite marks, complete with full dental imprints, on my four year old's arm because my older son wasn't able to control his anger and frustration in a proper way. It is because I let down my guard down and missed the signs. I then also remembered that I had forgotten the essential oils that day. If I had remembered the oils, then things may have ended differently. I know they would have ended differently. 

Yes, essential oils have become that important to our daily rhythm. 

Ever since my son's diagnosis in November of 2014, I have gathered a set of tools that help him to have better days: a visual schedule, social stories, fidgets, oral motor sensory tools, and homemade sensory tools.

But prior to his assessment, I dabbled and experimented with essential oils for our family and they had such a positive impact on our daily life, that I was instantly converted. Good-bye, inner skeptic! Hello, essential-oil-loving inner hippy!

Essential oils have become an integral part of our daily life. As such, I thought I would share what I think are the best essential oils for autism. The essential oils on this list would also be great for any child with sensory processing issues. Actually, for any child in general.

Best essential oil for autism

Disclaimer for this Autism & Essential Oils Guide

Just to be clear, I am not a trained aromatherapist. I am just passionate about essential oils because they have worked for my family.

The information presented here is merely an introduction to the topic of using essential oils to reduce anxieties, improve sleep, and calm meltdowns in autistic individuals and is not meant to replace traditional medical advice.

It is also, by no means, thorough. I'm still learning myself.

Most people roll their eyes when they are first introduced to the topic of using essential oils when it comes to autism...

I get it. Remember I used to be skeptic too. And there are tons of people who push essential oils to make a sale because they're working for one of those MLM companies (that is NOT me, by the way). I personally refuse to support these companies due to their promotion of unsafe practices, among many other things.

Why Essential Oils for Autism?

There are many reasons why you might be considering using essential oils with your autistic child, including:

  • Looking for practical solutions to use on a daily basis and without a big time commitment 
  • Interested in trying other sensory therapy strategies
  • Prefer to use natural methods
  • Want to avoid prescription medications
  • Hoping to find something that will help your child sleep better
  • Tired of other strategies not working or having little impact
  • Hoping to find something that will help with your child's anxiety
  • Finding a less expensive therapy solution to try (admit it: autism therapies are expensive!)
  • Want to have some tools that you can take with you on the road or while traveling
The list could go on and on.

Our decision to try essential oils was based on a few factors. First, we were faced with the first of many wait lists and needed something that we could try right away. We were also hoping it would help with my son's anxiety and sensory issues, while helping him to better regulate his emotions.

The upfront cost of using essential oils can be as much or as little as you'd like. And the oils and supplies that you get will last you a long time, like years.

Essential oils can be used every day unlike other therapies where you have an appointment scheduled once a week or once or month. There is also no huge time commitment. Simply apply or diffuse as needed.

You can also take essential oils with you everywhere you go. I always keep a roller bottle with our DIY essential oil blend in my purse.

Essential Oil Safety Tips for Autism

I've already alluded to the fact that there is a lot of unsafe practices promoted by many MLM sales people, so it's time to discuss essential oil safety, okay?

First, if your child is sensitive to scents, then essential oils likely won't be a good fit for you. Or you might need to be cautious about which essential oils you use. They might enjoy one scent, but might find others overwhelming. So be cautious and consider your child's sensory preferences and needs when introducing essential oils.

Second, you'll want to become best friends with the website Using Essential Oils Safely and their corresponding Facebook group. I cannot recommend their resources enough.

Third, you always need to dilute essential oils with some kind of carrier oil.

Four, many essential oils aren't safe to use around pets and young children, so please research the essential oils thoroughly before using them. Again, you'll want to reference the Using Essential Oils Safely website.

Best essential oil for autism

Which Essential Oils are Good for Autism?

This list of essential oils for autism is not exhaustive and may be added to as we find new favorites. There are plenty of essential oils that may be beneficial to kids who have autism and sensory processing issues, but these are our absolute go-to oils! These essential oils are what we have found to be the most helpful and effective for my son who has autism and sensory issues.

Vetiver - Of all the oils on this list, vetiver is my favorite and the most important. Vetiver has a sedative quality that can help sedate emotional outbursts such as anger, anxiety, and hysteria. It calms the nervous system and stabilizes emotions. I like to apply vetiver, diluted with a carrier oil, to the base of the neck and the base of the spine. I think vetiver was the first oil I ever tried with my son and saw immediate results.

Texas Cedarwood - This oil has a soothing and calming effect on the mind, helps with sleep, and helps to balance emotions.

Frankincense - An effective sedative, frankincense lowers anxiety, anger, and stress. It promotes deep breathing, relaxation, and a sense of peace and calm.

Lavender - Lavender is great for promoting sleep and for reducing anxiety and stress. A must have oil!

Mandarin Orange - Most kids enjoy the scent of citrus fruits and honestly, so do I. Mandarin orange balances emotions, provides stress relief, and calms the nervous system.

Happy Kids Blend - A blend of lime, tangerine, cardamom, and benzoin, the Happy Kids Blend is seriously the most amazing smelling essential oil blend that I've ever encountered. More importantly, it is an uplifting scent that keeps my kids...well...happy. Just like the bottle's label says. I like to diffuse it at home during the day and add it to our DIY calm & focused child blend.

Other Essential Oils to Try for Autism

There are lots of other essential oils that may be good for autism, including the following. We have not yet incorporated these particular oils into our routine, but I'm sharing them in case you are interested in exploring them further.

Ylang Ylang - This essential oil strengthens the nervous system, making it great for relieving stress, anger, and anxiety.

Bergamot - This essential oil relaxes nerves and muscles. It also reduces anxiety and stress. It would be a lovely oil for kids with autism.

For further information on any of these oils, you can read more at the Organic Facts Essential Oils database.

A guide to autism essential oils

How to Use Essential Oils for Autism

Incorporating essential oils into your day can be super easy to do! You can:

Essential Oil Blends for Autism

Sometimes we use a single essential oil or premade blends (like the happy kids blend mentioned above) and other times, I like to make a blend of essential oils. Here are a couple of recipes that we use:

Other Ideas You'll Love

Beginner's Guide to Essential Oils

Free Weekly Autism Planner

Detox Bath for Kids

A guide to autism essential oils


  1. Buena información de ayuda para el manejo del autismo en casa. Gracias.

    1. De nada! That's about all I remember from Spanish classes.

  2. I'm trying to find the right oil to try with my oldest. First time user, here. My oldest was diagnosed with Disruptive Behavioral issues, EDS (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome,Connective tissue disorder that also aids in developmental delays, bruises easy, cuts open easy, will always be in pain for the rest of his life as he gets older), Global Developmental Delays, Borderline Autistic. He definitely has anger issues, screaming bouts, and ADHD. Haven't had his tested for Bipolar or for any mood disorders.

    We refuse to go to medication, and truly want to try essential oil, but it can be costly, especially those level marketing companies. I'm looking for a company that is pocket and budget wise, but at the same time, do its job. Anyway you could help??

    1. Yeah cost is just one of the reasons I avoid the MLM companies. I personally love Aura Cacia brand, but I have heard really great things about Rocky Mountain Oils as well. So you could try one of those brands to start since they are cheaper than Young Living or DoTerra. As for the right oil to try first, I always suggest lavender because it is so versatile and easy to use: add a few drops to bath water, put a drop on a cotton ball and put it inside his pillow for sleep, mix it with coconut oil and make a massage lotion, etc. Vetiver, mandarin orange, and texas cedarwood are other good ones for calming emotions. Actually all three combined together smell amazing! Hope that helps!

    2. Hello Mrs. Robson,

      I have a seven year old son with autism non-verbal and I'm new at the essential oils. I have heard about it from Autism Conferences I have attended out of town, but until one parent from my son Horse Therapy told me that she uses essential oils on her nine year old son and has been amazed with the positive changes. I wanted to first informed you that I purchased all the essential oils that you advise in your website from that brand; Aura Cacia on Amazon (I'm Prime Amazon Lover) but i was reading from your other replies that you find the essential oils more better in using it with a diffuser, than body contact. I'm little bit confuse I have heard from other parents that they use the rollerball essential oil to their children in their back of their neck and also in the spine? I wanted to ask what will you advise as a parent? Thank you for your blog.
      I will like to mention that I also tried the diffuser with Lavender at night two hours before my son will go to sleep, and I noticed a calmness but also attentive and alert.
      I also purchase the book that you informed on your blog about essential oils and read everything (GREAT BOOK! THANK YOU)

    3. Spine and neck are wonderful and I use a calming body spray on those locations regularly, usually on school days. I just prefer the diffuser because it's easy. Absorption is definitely better on the spine and neck though. It really just comes down to personal preference.

  3. Hello, thought I would share my experience with what has worked for my son so far. We are only about 6 months in to using EOS and I also stay away from the MLMs mainly because of the price. I did lots of researched alot before making my first purchase and I decided to go with Edens Garden as well Aura Cacia since I can get lavender, Tea Tree & Eucalyptus at my grocery story in that brand. Thank God for these smaller/direct companies without them I would have never gotten into the world of essential oils. Anyways my son is almost 5 and I started out with using just Lavender & Cedarwood however the lavender seemed to have the opposite effect on him which I later read is pretty common. I still use it for him but only when it is in a blend of several oils. He has done GREAT with Vetiver, Cedarwood & Ylang Ylang. Lately hes done so good at night with the combo I have been using which is 2 different blends from Edens Garden called Good Night & Relaxation and I also add Vetiver making it a combo of those 3. I recently tried a new combo to use before school to help him focus and be calm at school and that was a combo of Mandarin, cedarwood, lavender, Bergamot, vetiver & Petitgrain. I just started that so dont have any opinion on how it works yet! My son goes to bed good on his own but the oils help get tired earlier. I apply them about a half hour to an hour before Im ready for him to go to sleep. I also use that blend if he has any tantrums or if he gets hyper and I swear within 15 minutes hes calmed down. He is very low on the spectrum and high functioning, alot of people cant tell he has it. Its almost like he has autism just a little bit If that was possible. But the oils work forsure, I use them on myself and my three children. They have done wonders for my face too!! Good Luck with essential oils with your little ones Mommies, I hope they work as well for you as they do for me ;)

    1. That's wonderful to hear, Emily!

      We use a similar homemade blend of mandarin orange, cedarwood, lavender, vetiver, and frankincense every single day and it makes the difference between a good day and a bad day. I have never heard of petitgrain, so I am going to research that particular essential oil. Bergamot is a new favorite to me, mostly because I LOVE how it smells on its own.

      I also came up with the perfect bedtime blend for our diffuser about a month ago. It smells heavenly and has dramatically improved sleep for my boys (especially paired with our Himalayan salt lamp!). I hope to write about it on the blog soon!

      Anyway, thanks again for sharing your experience!

  4. How do you apply it and is there an issue with sensitive skin? We put lotion on our son everyday to help with his eczema.

    1. If you have concerns about sensitive skin, then I would just diffuse it in a diffuser instead of applying the oils.

  5. I'm so glad I stumbled onto your blog. I am also a full-time mom and teach piano lessons! My friend just had a Young Living fb party. While it was very informative, I chose not to purchase and do more research as I like to have all the facts and learn as much as I can before jumping into anything (plus it's pricy). I started to wonder if essential oils could be helpful for my 10 yr old who was diagnosed with autism 1 year ago. He functions very highly but struggles with anxiety, focus, and sometimes trouble sleeping. He is not currently on any medication and I'd like to avoid if possible. There is so much information out there that it's quite overwhelming. Right now we're dealing with some anxiety about going back to school. He's more irritable and having a harder time going to sleep at night. Does it matter if you diffuse the oils or apply to the skin? Does one method have more benefit than the other? Thanks!

    1. Sounds like we have a lot in common!

      We currently use the oils for the same things that you mention: anxiety, focus, and sleep time. I really like the website and I suggest reading through their website carefully as the writer is a certified aromatherapist. You can likely find the answers to your specific questions there, but each method of application (diffusing or applying directly to skin) has different results and benefits. Diffusing oils is great if your child has sensitive skin, for example.

      I personally find diffusing easier and a lot more convenient.

  6. Hi Dyan, thank you for your post. I'm looking for the essential oil blend for my friend's step daughter. She is 13 years old now. As she's getting older, her symptoms got worse. She is angry, sometimes violent. My friend as very tight budget, so I'd like to make the blend she can try. Your blend seems to have everything I'd like to use. Could you please give me the ratio you use?

    1. Hi, Miho! You can find the recipe for that blend here:

    2. Thank you, Dyan. I will make the blend for roller bottle, since she did something to the diffuser. She added too much oils sometimes or refused to to do it sometimes.