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Autism and asperger syndrome

Parts of this were taken with permission from Essential Oils Overview and Reference Guide, published by: The Family Tree, 2008


see also ADHD/ADD (how ADHD and autism differ is detailed below)

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects the way a child communicates and interacts.  It can be generalized as ASD (autism spectrum disorder) that includes a range of different manifestations that varying in degree of severity.  ASD includes Asperger’s syndrome (high-functioning autism), autism, and PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorders-not otherwise specified).

From the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke:  “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior.  Autistic disorder, sometimes called autism or classical ASD, is the most severe form of ASD, while other conditions along the spectrum include a milder form known as Asperger syndrome, the rare condition called Rett syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS).  Although ASD varies significantly in character and severity, it occurs in all ethnic and socioeconomic groups and affects every age group.  Experts estimate that three to six children out of every 1,000 will have ASD.  Males are four times more likely to have ASD than females.”

This article goes on to describe some of the signs of autism in this way, impaired social interaction, children may fail to respond to their names, they often avoid eye contact with other people, they have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they can’t understand social cues, such as tone of voice or facial expressions, and don’t watch other people’s faces for clues about appropriate behavior.  They lack empathy. Many engage in repetitive movements such as rocking and twirling, or in self-abusive behavior such as biting or head-banging. 

They also tend to start speaking later than other children and may refer to themselves by name instead of “I” or “me.”  Children with ASD don’t know how to play interactively with other children.  Some speak in a sing-song voice about a narrow range of favorite topics, with little regard for the interests of the person to whom they are speaking. Another characteristic of autistic children is they are very sensory sensitive.  This could be hot or cold, touch, taste, or smell.  This is important with essential oils since some may not be able to have oils applied directly but may need them applied to the feet or with diffusion where they do not have such a strong sensory impact.


A summary of the relationship of Asperger syndrome, autism, and ADHD

Because symptoms are similar between these disorders confusion may exist with the inexperienced in diagnosis as well as proper response. (for those that have children with these disorders it is not difficult to understand the difference.) The following summary addresses the similarities and differences.

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects the way a child communicates and interacts.  It can be generalized as ASD (autism spectrum disorder) that includes a range of different manifestations that varying in degree of severity.  ASD includes Asperger’s syndrome (high-functioning autism), autism, and PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorders-not otherwise specified).

ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) is a neurobehavioral disorder that causes an inability to focus and listen to direction.  In older literature the term ADD or “ADD with hyperactivity” was used for this same disorder.

One of the notable differences some have noted is that those with autism do not learn well from experience (or coping) but rather by rote or memorization.  Most love structure and will repeat very well learned structure.  On the other hand those with ADHD will learn from experiences and are able to extrapolate this learning to other experiences.

It is believed the root causes of the two disorders are different but since they are both developmental disorders and both affect children in communication, social interaction, and behavioral characteristics they can be confused and even misdiagnosed.  The website www.retrainthebrain.com gives the following lists of the behaviors occurring in autism and ADHD:

Autism Behavioral Checklist

·   Difficulty mixing with other children

·   No real fear of danger

·   Tantrums: displays extreme distress for no apparent reason

·   Inappropriate giggling or laughing

·   May not want cuddling or act cuddly

·   Noticeable physical over activity or extreme under activity

·   Little or no eye contact

·   Works impulsively; often makes careless mistakes: work is sloppy*

·   Uneven gross/fine motor skills*

ADHD Behavioral Checklist

·   Cannot talk or play quietly; disrupts others with talk or actions

·   Difficult awaiting turn in games or activities

·   Engages in potentially dangerous activities

·   Plays without normal caution or  consideration of consequences

·   Severe temper tantrums  

·   Interrupts, disrupts, talks and acts inappropriately

·   When younger, difficulty accepting soothing or holding

·   Always on the move, overactive, even during sleep

·   Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly

·   Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in school work or other activities

·   Uneven gross/fine motor skills

*editor's note: Some that have had experience with children with these disorders disagree with some points.  For instance a child with Asperger Syndrome is very structured in what they do and would not be considered sloppy.  What may appear to us to be a careless mistake is not to them from their point of view.  This same child may also have very good motor skills.  Also the difficulty in communication skills is much different between autistic and ADHD children.

A common symptom between autism and ADHD is that either may suffer from gross and fine motor skills as well as the impulsive driven behaviors. In some cases, the autism behaviors reveal a deficit in being able to respond emotionally.   

Essential oils and autism and ADHD.  Like other health concerns these disorders may be helped at multiple levels.  Since many of the symptoms (behaviors) are common between the two disorders there will be benefits from the same oils.  As you work with the oils you will find what works best for your child as well as the mode of application.  By clicking on the "Experiences & Testimonials" tab on this page and the ADHD page you will see the experiences of others using oils to help.


[search helps: aspergers, autistic, hyper, hyperactive]

Oils, blends & products recommended:

Oils & Blends: Grounding Blend, Frankincense, Helichrysum, Focus Blend, Lavender, Marjoram, Sandalwood, Vetiver

Essential oils based products: Basic Vitality Supplements (LLV)

Also consider: Clary Sage, Calming Blend, Ylang Ylang

Suggested protocols:

Note - Since many with ADD/ADHD, asperser's, or autism are highly sensitive to odors and sometime touch do not force the application of oils if it is a negative experience as this will build a experiential resentment towards their use in the future. Many times it is successful letting them make their own selection from a few choices of oils.

Focus - Vetiver (Frankincense, etc) oil carried with the child during the day can help them if they find themselves loosing focus or calm.  Clay necklaces with the preferred oil or applying some oil to the area of the hand between the thumb and first finger allows an easy quick technique to inhale during a busy school day.

Special Blend - Focus Blend is a special blend (Amyris, Frankincense, Lime, Patchouli, Roman Chamomile, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang) prepared to enhance focus and support healthy thought processes.  

Rest - Many times lack of rest and relaxation is an issue and nightly foot massages with Lavender or other relaxing oils is very helpful.  Also consider diffusing relaxing blends or oils.

Diet - Be assured nutritional balance is addressed.  Using the Basic Vitality Supplements (LLV) (reduced quantities depending on age) and testing for and eliminating any food allergies is important.

Application - These oils and blend can be inhaled or carried via the blood stream. For the latter applied topically to the feet is effective or with a light massage action along the spine. Dr. DJugular veinsavid Hill also recommends applying the oils to in regions that are in close proximity to the sources of blood flow to the brain. Two he specifically mentions are on the areas of the right and left jugular just below the chin on the front and each side of the neck. The other is the suboccipital triangle which not only gives proximity to arterial flow to the brain but also key neurological tissue. He describes finding this by placing the fingers on the sub occipital protuberance (little bump at the top osuboccipital trianglef the spine on the back of the neck) then just below this grip the large muscle tissue and roll the fingers off to the side. This depression just behind and below the ear is the suboccipital triangle and the location Dr. Hill suggests is an excellent place to topically applies these oils and blends.




More on protocols:

The early writers on the use of essential oils (Valnet, Tisserand, Gassefosse) were before our modern era where this type of disorder has become so common.  For that reason there is no information from them on the use of oils.  More recent essential oils users have documented their successes in using oils to address the symptoms often experienced by those with autism.  Summarized below are some of their recommendations but also go to the “Experiences & Testimonials” tabs to read their experiences directly:

·   For frustration, impatience, and anger use oils and blends that calm.  Grounding Blend, Calming Blend, Lavender, Ylang Ylang.  Applying to the feet, back of the neck, behind the knees, and diffusion are all suggested.

·   For improved concentration the oil Vetiver.  Again on the feet or, for school children that need help during the school day, a necklace with a pendant that will absorb the oil can make it available all day.

·   Some, with autism, are particularly sensitive to smell and may resist the use of oils.  Applying to the feet, even after they are asleep, can circumvent this problem.

·   Note: You will also find in “Experiences & Testimonials” tab suggestions on sleep, nutrition, and yeast that will be helpful.


Experiences and Testimonials of others

Submissions directly to  EverythingEssential.me.  Our thanks to:


Carrie -My daughter has been diagnosed with ADD and mild autism.  I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on natural and conventional remedies to help my daughter function at her best.  She has been in therapy since she was 2.  She is now 10.  Five weeks ago I had a meeting with her school and they felt she should leave her current school for a full time autistic classroom.  Two weeks ago, I got an email from a (...) representative about a story of a little girl and her recovery from a medical issue. It made me think... so I decided to write her and she led me to this website where I found recommendations of certain oils to use for her.  I used Frankincense and Grounding Blend for the next two weeks (I already had these two oils and I am ordering Vetiver and Calming Blend for her anxiety as recommended).
Last week I took her to her neurologist and she noticed a difference in Cassidy since her visit 3 months ago. She said she is more engaged in our conversation and more social.  Two days after this her teacher came to me saying the same thing.  She said she doesn't sit with the teachers anymore on the playground. She is engaging in play with the other kids and she is participating in the classroom also, raising her hand and getting the answers correct.  In these 2 weeks she went up 3 reading levels.  She is in 3rd ... on a 1st ... level.
At Girl Scouts she usually just goes with what is happening or she drifts off on her own after a while.  In her last Girl Scout meeting she was participating and at one point she was actually instructing the class because she had finished first and was confident enough to help others! This has NEVER happened. 
Today we went to a birthday party and she had no anxiety about it. We have missed so many birthday invites because she was too anxious to go.  I could probably give you at least 10 more examples of her progress in 2 short weeks.  This is incredible for our little girl. 
We just got the Vetiver and Calming Blend in today so I am anxious to add these to her regiment also.  She was so excited when they came in and said she would use them also and keep getting better.  I think she notices a change also. 
I am so thankful the Jenn shared a story with her contacts about this other little girl because it helped me see that there might be something here for my little girl also.  If I saw this in 2 weeks, I just can't imagine what is in for her future!
 She has not taken anything internal.  I have put the Frankincense on her feet and the Grounding Blend I put on one of her hands on the fingertips the then on the opposite side at her temple (ex: right fingertips, left temple).

A few weeks later - Well a part to add to the story is that the school came to me again and changed their minds- they now want to keep her in a regular classroom at the same school and NOT put her in an autistic classroom


Submissions directly to  EverythingEssential.me.  Our thanks to:


Cindy - I have 3 adopted boys.  Being drug babies they came with a host of emotional and psychological issues.  Oils really has changed the atmosphere in our home from frazzled, frantic, fanatical to controlled chaos.  Our youngest age 8 has sensory processing disorder, our middle age 10 has oppositional defiance disorder, and our oldest age 12 has ADD tendencies although never diagnosed.  I came across the Peaceful Child blend and wanted to share it because it has done wonders for our boys and my niece who is autistic.

Peaceful Child blend
  85 drops Vetiver
  30 drops Ylang Ylang
  20 drops Frankincense
  15 drops Clary Sage
  10 drops Marjoram
  35 drops Fractionated coconut oil

I cut the recipe in 1/3 and mix in a roll on bottle that they apply to bottoms of feet on the brain/ spinal reflex points of the feet,  They apply themselves right after showering in the morning. They also use Calming Blend and Invigorating Blend on neck and behind the ears. I also let them figure what smells good to them.

Now for the results:

Our 8 yr old increased his math minutes from 10 problems in 1 minute to 30 with in the first week of using oils.  He has shown steady growth through the whole year.

Our 10 yr old  His reading went from an inconsistent 65 wpm to 140 words per minute reading indicator test.

Our 12 yr old is much more emotionally level, not highs and low swings.

RESULTS a more peaceful home. THANK YOU Peaceful Child blend, and other oils that have restored controlled chaos to our home..


Maria - Has anyone ever had any positive results with essential oils and Autism?  I have a friend who's son is autistic (she believes it occurred after a round of vaccine shots).  I'm not really sure what to recommend besides Grounding Blend or Calming Blend.  I heard someone mention once that Cilantro Oil can break the blood/brain barrier and attach to metals in the brain to remove them (Cilantro is in Cleansing Blend).  Any thoughts on this?

Lil – Also consider Vetiver. Put  it on the back of the knee, on the soft skin below the thumb, and diffuse it as well. This is a very thick oil, so just suck it up from the bottle with a medicine dropper to apply.  To diffuse in the (...) diffuser just add one drop to the water in the liquid container.


Anonymous - I understand Asperger syndrome is a mild form of autism.  Can oils help?

Kathy - I have heard that much of the lack of focus and hyperactivity with Asperger's Disorder comes from 3 main things:

1)   Sleep deprivation

2)   Nutritional deficiencies

3)   Yeast (see "Feast Without Yeast" by Bruce Simon, MD)

If you break it down like this, it makes tackling Asperger’s easier.

For sleep deprivation, I would consider testing for oils that would be calming or relaxing to them.  I.e. Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Marjoram or Sandalwood. Or the blend Calming Blend.  Find the right oil or blend and apply to his feet at bed time and/or spray his pillow with a mist blend and/or diffuse the oil at night.  Keep the spray around for “meltdowns” and always have a high protein snack to get his blood sugar under control.  I would find a good “granola bar” type recipe and make them.

For nutritional deficiencies, if age appropriate consider (...)’s supplement capsules.   For younger folks even a ½ dose of the wellness pack supplements will have incredible benefits.  The capsules can present a problem with younger children (and even some adults) but, with some coaching and practice, if they are aware of their benefits they will adapt.  Obviously make his diet a priority.  Healthy, raw, and high in vegetables and fruits.  No processed foods, no foods high in sugars.

Finally, for yeast, again, if they can handle swallowing capsules, get them on (...)'s Candida protocol.  If not, at least massage the oils into the feet daily.

I would also recommend at least weekly spinal technique massage, using Vetiver and Clary Sage instead of Eucalyptus.  Diffuse Peppermint or Lemon.  For children while they do their homework or other constructive activities.

Another useful thing might be an ADD protocol, including giving them a clay necklace and putting 5-6 drops of Vetiver and balance on it and teaching them to smell it daily if they feels anxiety.

Experiment with the oils and try to find ones that they react well to in given situations.  Find a “favorite” oil and incorporate it into the protocol.  Most important, love, attention, time, prayer, fasting and faith.  This is all hard work, and is certainly much easier to write out than to do… but when we have special children like this; God and our love and attention will turn their weaknesses into their strengths.


Kendra - I think what Kathy is saying is terrific. Here are some thoughts on the sensory issues.  He might not like the smell of the oils (many with these types of issues have extra sensory sensitivity).  If his mom has a hard time with him complaining about how the oils smell and he screams like, "get them outta here, they stink!" and that sort of reaction, honestly, and I don't care if it's sneaky, apply them on his feet or 'wherever" she can, while he's sleeping.

Kendra - There have been a couple of questions about Asperger's syndrome and I thought that I would mention a site that is very helpful for parents. You can ask for help, you can vent, cry, laugh, whatever you need to do and know that you are not alone.

It's called O.A.S.I.S.   www.udel.edu/bkirby/asperger , go there and you have to be registered to be part of the group, it might take a couple of days for them to reply, but it's really neat.

Editor's note: Kendra also has some touching thoughts on ADD/ADHD.


Editorial comment – We realize the following story is not related to Autism, but not knowing the proper place to record it, we are trying to put it where those acquainted with children that might be struggling will be able to share it with others.

Erica - I have to share this amazing story - especially if there may be someone out there who could benefit from it!

My friend has a little boy who had complications at birth that left him handicapped. He lays on a big beanbag all day, can't talk, walk, or eat. He has a feeding tube and is on oxygen. He also receives a suppository each day to help him go to the bathroom.

I helped them get some essential oils and within the first weekend they had him on the oils they noticed a huge difference! My friend called me and said, "it was miraculous"!

Here's what they put on him...

Frankincense on his chest, Digestive Blend on his stomach, Respiratory Blend and Protective Blend (alternating) in the diffuser, Respiratory Blend on his back, and Protective Blend on his feet. The oils were re-applied every hour.

His response to the oils within that first weekend was that he was acting much better overall, went to the bathroom on his own (for the very first time - he's 5 years old) went off of his oxygen for the first time in months, and slept thru the night for the first time - he hasn't been able to sleep because his stomach bothers him so much.

It has been so amazing hearing his success and I'm so thankful for these oils and the benefits they give to us all! I'll let you know if anything else changes. We are going to try some additional oils.

Protocols folks recommend for children



Diet and Nutritional complements to essential oils


What Science & Research are saying

Beneficial Effects of Enzyme-based Therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorders

 [This is to provide readers with some background information on the enzyme therapy referred to in the work of Dr. Timothy Buie, a pediatric gastroenterologist from Harvard/Mass General Hospital for treatment for autistic children with certain gastroinstestinal disorders. This pilot study is uncontrolled and is not peer reviewed published. This means that the information provided stands a higher risk of being inaccurate than from peer-reviewed, controlled experiments.      Parents should be clear that when considering any experimental medical treatment for a child, we are placing that child at some risk.  How much risk?  Some answers to this can be obtained by gathering information from other parents on the Internet who are already experimenting with the same approach (try GFCFKids-subscribe@yahoogroups.com).  However, the highest quality of information comes from peer reviewed, controlled experiments. That's why we need research, research, research… -LS]

Beneficial Effects of Enzyme-based Therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorders

 Mark A. Brudnak Ph.D., N.D.,  Bernard Rimland, Ph.D., John B. Pangborn Ph.D.,  Ilene Buchholz R.N.


Autism is a developmental disease usually manifesting within the first three years of life. To date, no causative agent has been found. Similarly, treatment options have been limited. Of the treatment options available, a number of them have been nutritionally based in an attempt to address one or more of the theories regarding the etiology of the disease.      

A pilot study was undertaken to address the exorphin (exogenous opiate-type peptides) theory of autism by treatment with dietary enzyme therapy. Forty-six patients between the ages of 5 and 31 were selected for inclusion in the study based on a diagnosis placing them in the category of the autism spectrum disorders (ASD), some with and/or without attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The diets were supplemented with a novel dietary enzyme formulation, EnZymAid™, for a period of twelve weeks.  Progress was tracked according to the Symptom Outcome Survey (SOS1) form method of symptom charting and presented in a table for further analysis.      

Results: The novel enzyme formula, EnZymAid™, beneficially and safely affected all thirteen of the parameters measured. Improvements ranged from 50-90%, depending on the parameter measured, of the respondents who completed the entire course of therapy. Statistical analysis revealed that even assuming an extremely high baseline, twelve of the thirteen parameters were significant improvements.      

Conclusion: The novel enzyme formula EnZymAid™ was effective at improving autistic symptoms such as socialization, hyperactivity, attention, eye contact, comprehension, compulsions, etc. These results indicate that further controlled studies are warranted.

Editor's note:  This research report does not include the formulation of EnZymAid™.



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NOTE: The advice shared in this site has not been evaluated by the FDA. The products and methods recommended are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease, nor is it intended to replace proper medical help. As members offer or look for answers, kindly understand that essential oils work to help to bring the body into balance - thus helping the body's natural defenses to restore homeostasis. Essential oils are not used to "treat" medical problems.