There are so many benefits to sensory play, from practicing fine and gross motor skills, to encouraging problem solving, and of course (particularly important for those with extra needs) learning to regulate complex sensory systems.
For kids with sensory processing disorders, this is a crucial, but also fun, part of a 'sensory diet'.
Don't be intimidated if that all sounds a little bit complicated though. I promise it isn't! And you're probably already doing lot's of sensory play with your child already.
Splashing in the warm, bubbly washing up water? Sensory.
Squeezing that cookie dough mix through your fingers when you're baking together? Sensory.
Digging around in the sand pit? Sensory.
What I'm suggesting today is that we start trying to add in a bit more interest to the olfactory sense - scent! Essential oils are a fantastic way to do this because they're extremely powerful, but also non-toxic and are easily processed by the body. They're a great way to help regulate mood and emotions too.
So here are my top tips for incorporating oils in your sensory play:
- Make sure you buy CPTG - you don't want to be overloading sensitive children with cheap synthetic fragrances. If you don't already have an account with doTERRA, learn how to set one up here.
- Read up on safety and dilution guidelines - make sure you purchase your essential oils from someone who can help you with this. If you've purchased through me, you will be getting access to all this information in the members only section or through our customer Facebook group. You can also join Oil Camp which is our 10 day coaching program for brand new oil users.
- Keep info handy - download the recommended apps from Oil Camp and if you haven't got droplii, let me know and I'll happily buy you a copy.
- Focus on a certain mood or emotion that you are trying to promote for example, Wild Orange is known as uplifting and calming, Peppermint can be energizing whilst Lavender is thought to be calming.
- Think about the type of play you want to focus on - for example, does your child enjoy splashing in water? Or smushing up play dough? Or running their hands through rice? What moods do these evoke in your child? Are they squealing with delight or does it calm them and help them focus? Try and think about which activities help induce the states of emotion you are wanting to practice.
- Add ONE drop at a time - some children are very sensitive to scent and whilst you might feel the smell is very subtle, your child may consider it overpowering. You can always add more if requested. Start with individual oils and build up to mixing and blending scents. Guess which smell is a fun game, but complex aromas can be overwhelming to process before you are comfortable with all the individual components.
- Mix well - Make sure that your oil is well mixed or diluted before giving the game over to your kid. We don't want to introduce undiluted oils to sensitive skin. Slime, play dough, bath bubbles, dry rice, sand, all of these are great to add oils to. We've also been using a yoga swing as part of a sensory diet for one of our children. We've either used a diffuser in the room at the same time, or placed a drop on the fabric of the swing to create a diffuser effect. Remember its aromatherapy. They don't need physical contact to benefit!
- Monitor your child - this is so important, particularly with non-verbal children. Keep a record of the oils you use and how they respond. Overtime you will be able to work out which oils are particularly good for soothing them or helping them focus/communicate etc...
- Introduce new oils slowly - particularly for children on the spectrum it's important not to introduce too many things at once. This is why I actually love doTERRA's Loyalty Rewards Programme. Using the monthly order as a reminder to introduce one new oil at a time is a really great way of getting great value for money and my kids get really excited when that box arrives each month to see what the new smell is - well, that and because they love the 'Pixie Stix' as they call PB assist jr!
Have a go at incorporating some oils into your sensory play today.
What oils did you use?
How did you use them?
Let me know in the comments!