11 Best Essential Oils for Autism Spectrum Children (2023)

essential oils for autism

You’ve heard that essential oils can be beneficial. Nowadays, people also claim essential oils can also help people with disorders. In this article, we’ll discuss the 11 best essential oils for Autism spectrum children! 

But first, what are essential oils? These are concentrated liquids that contain compounds from plants.

Extracts obtained through distillation retain the natural flavor and odor of their source.

Examples are lavender, peppermint, and chamomile. It should be noted that synthetic oils are not genuine essential oils. 

Humans, since early times, believed in the medicinal properties of plants. Extracting oils from these goes way back. Ancient Egyptians had used aromatic oils even before the pyramids were built!

The Industrial Revolution made distilling and pressing more efficient. 

These sweet-smelling compounds are said to be therapeutic. I’ve been using peppermint soap because it’s an antiseptic cleanser. I can say with certainty that it absolutely does work.

Essential Oil Uses

Most people use essential oils for aromatherapy. 

Many studies show these provide health benefits, including relief of stress, improved sleep, and quality of life.  

Also, people can apply these oils to the skin. But, these should be diluted with a carrier oil to create a mix safe for the skin. Sunflower, coconut, grapes, and olives are carrier oil sources. 

Many people claim that inhaling scents from essential oils improve their emotional health. There might be enough scientific basis for this.

Odors travel to the brain through the olfactory nerves. These affect the amygdala, part of the limbic system which controls emotions, behavior, and memory.

You’ll find essential oils in beauty and body products. Cedarwood-enhanced moisturizers are said to promote healthy glowing skin. Some people use lavender soap to reduce skin inflammation.  

Many recipes include essential oils to add flavor. Examples are cinnamon, thyme, lemon, and orange. Do you suffer from indigestion often? Try peppermint.

Here’s something you should try – lavender ice cream. It has a floral taste.

When preparing food, ensure you’re using essential oils that are safe for eating.  

Lemongrass and citronella are known in many tropical regions. These extracts ward off insects like mosquitoes.

I’m sure we’ll discover more uses in the future. Scientists are further testing these for medicinal purposes.

Who knows, essential oils may help cure deadly diseases one day! 

Benefits for Children with Autism and ADHD

Mother introducing daughter to essential oil

There’s evidence that essential oils may benefit autistic kids, both low and high-functioning. Research continues on the positive effects on them. 

Jill Halloway, Ph.D. of the Ohio State University’s Nisonger Center, is leading a two-year study on essential oils helping autistic children.  

While waiting for more scientific data, parents of children with autism are trying essential oils independently.

Before you do the same, I suggest you research more on the subject. You can then make the right call and decide if essential oils can aid your child.

According to the Autism Academy for Education & Development, essential oils help autistic kids in these ways:

  • Increase Focus and Concentration
  • Relaxes and calms
  • Improve alertness and accuracy
  • Soothes muscles

Other studies suggest that essential oils can also reduce the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Sensory Overload
  • Meltdowns
  • Hyperactivity
  • Sleep disorders

Best Essential Oils for Autism Spectrum Children

Young girl holding essential oil

Modern therapies for autism cost a lot- therefore, essential oils may be the more cost-effective option for most people. There’s also a group that prefers natural ingredients over synthetic chemicals. 

And yes, you won’t find heavy metals in essential oils after distillation.

I am listing the following oils for your reference. I based this list on the feedback of numerous individuals who care for autistic children. These oils may not have the same effect on your kids.

I suggest you test each and find the best suited for your child’s needs. Bear in mind that I’m not advocating using essential oils to replace proper medical care.

Although these will not cure children with ASD or ADHD, the oils can help manage symptoms.

Remember to ask your child’s doctor if these essential oils are safe.

1) Lavender Oil

According to many, the first on my list has soothing and calming effects. Lavender oil is often used with a diffuser. It can reduce stress and help autistic kids relax and sleep.

Adding a few drops to a tub can make a child’s bath more enjoyable. You can also use lavender oil to heal burns and wounds.

If you eventually use essential oils, include this in your essential oil repertoire!

2) Vetiver Oil

Vetiver essential oil photograph

Vetiver oil can relax and calm children with ADHD. One particular study may have proved this when subjects inhaled this oil three times a day for a month.

The results showed a marked improvement in the subjects’ behavior.  

Applying this oil at the nape of an autistic child can work. It also acts as an antiseptic for wounds.

Again, don’t forget to dilute vetiver oil with a carrier oil. I would suggest coconut or jojoba.

3) Peppermint

Peppermint essential oil and leaves

One of the more popular essential oils, peppermint evokes calm. The first thing that comes to mind is the cooling sensation from a dark choco mint.

Most people apply peppermint with coconut oil on the forehead or the nape of the neck. Some would say it can relax autistic children and improve their focus.

It can help ease pain from headaches.

4) Mandarin Orange Essential Oil

mandarin orange essential oils photo

Think of the delicious canned citrus fruits. If you like eating these, you’re reaping a lot of health benefits. Did you know that oranges are stress relievers?

Children love the taste and scent of oranges. Add a few drops of mandarin oil to your diffuser and see if it works. The smell has a soothing effect and can help autistic kids sleep.    

5) Bergamot Essential Oil

bergamot oil photographed with limes

Bergamot was first used in the 18th century for perfumes. You can mix with a carrier oil, add to body wash or use with a diffuser.

This essential oil is known to enhance the moods of autistic kids. It’s both a stimulant and a relaxant.

Bergamot is a pain reliever that prevents muscle spasms and is also used to heal wounds.

6) Cedarwood Essential Oil

Cedarwood oil and pinecones

Most people use cedarwood oil as a stimulant. It’s been said that this oil affects the pituitary glands. Cedarwood oil can help autistic kids focus during the day and sleep at night.

It also increases the growth of melatonin, a hormone that plays a role in our sleep-wake cycle. It’s no surprise adults with sleep issues take melatonin supplements.    

7) Rosemary Essential Oil

This popular seasoning is known for its aroma. Research has shown that rosemary oil may aid in memory and thinking.

During the study, subjects performed better while taking math tests in a room diffused with rosemary.

Also, this oil can ease pain and, as stated by another study, increase hair growth.

8) Frankincense Essential Oil

Frankincense oil in a bottle

No, not the deranged, corpse-stealing doctor of Hollywood horror fame…This essential oil can only be extracted from the Boswellia tree found in the Arabian Peninsula, Western Africa, and India.

Centuries ago, frankincense was valued more than gold. Frankincense oil aids breathing and is used to induce calm.

It’s a stress reducer and helps control negative emotions.

Studies also show that this oil helps autistic children focus. Like other oils, frankincense has anti-bacterial properties.

9) Ylang-Ylang Essential Oil

You’ll find this plant in tropical areas. People use ylang-ylang oil to help them relax. It can have the same effect on autistic kids.

There have been numerous claims that it lowers blood pressure when directly applied to the skin. This oil also aids memory and thinking.

As a sedative, ylang-ylang has been proven to be very effective. It can positively impact emotions, so why not try a few drops on your diffuser?

10) Chamomile Essential Oil

Most people are familiar with chamomile tea, but chamomile in oil form is even more effective! This oil contains antioxidants that protect us from free radicals, which may play a role in diseases.

Chamomile oil is excellent for relaxing and calming people. For this reason, it can reduce meltdowns.

Other benefits include possible congestion relief, improved digestion, and cancer prevention. 

11) Sandalwood Essential Oil

Sandalwood oil in a bottle with wood shavings

I use a sandalwood air freshener. Other people like the scent so much they want their homes to smell like sandalwood. This oil is highly valued.

It’s been used as an alternative to traditional medicines.  

Sandalwood oil has a calming effect, which can combat restlessness and improve focus. You can first try sandalwood oil with a diffuser.

Also, it can help cure colds, indigestion, and everyday aches. The Indian sandalwood has the most potent scent.

Thus, it has the highest therapeutic value among sandalwood varieties. 

Essential Oil Blends

You can create essential oil mixtures. For instance, you can mix lavender and bergamot to cure your insomnia. Many people have tested blends and are sharing their results on the web.

I suggest you search these first before testing.  

Buying the Right Brand

There are tons of sellers of essential oils worldwide. I suggest checking out brands on Amazon. Most reviews on that platform are credible. In case you’re shopping, consider the following before purchasing:

  • Brand name. Read reviews on the internet. But, be wary of fake comments, which usually lack specifics. If feedback is all praises, then it’s probably untrue.
  • The label should include the Latin botanical name. There are different types of the same essential oil. Without the Latin name, you wouldn’t know which is which. For instance, the best sandalwood oil comes from India. Australia’s sandalwood is the least potent, according to experts.   
  • Country of origin on the label. Certain plants can only grow in a few countries.
  • Additives. Some companies will add alternate chemicals to cut costs. Read the label carefully for the oil’s ingredients.
  • Source of extract. With some plants, oil from the flower can be better than that from the stem.
  • Price. If an essential oil is cheap, it might not be genuine. Also, some oils are more expensive than others.
  • The word natural can be deceiving. So, beware and check details carefully.         

Buying a Quality Essential Oil Diffuser

Essential oil diffuser in a living room

A diffuser is your best bet to try essential oils on kids. Instead of applying these on their skin, a less invasive approach is better for introducing these oils.

Autistic children can be sensitive to certain scents. Removing a diffuser from a room is easier than rubbing off any oil applied to the skin.

You’ll find diffusers built with LED lights, which can be a plus for autistic kids that enjoy lava lamps and bubble tubes. Make sure children can tell these apart. They can touch bubble tubes but not diffusers and lamps.

Below are 5 diffusers you can find on Amazon and that I recommend. If you buy one, be sure to clean it after every use.

Do not leave unused oils, which can be tainted with other materials.

You might also be thinking of scented candles. According to the EPA, these and incense sticks can create health problems.

In the long run, diffusers will prove to be safer and cheaper than other options.

Remember to keep diffusers away from children!

Other Ways of Using Essential Oils

Woman smelling essential oils in a jar
  • You can add essential oils to bathwater or mix with massage oils. A few drops will do.
  • When applying to the skin, don’t forget to dilute with a carrier oil.
  • Most people apply essential oils on their heads, behind their ears, on the nape, temples, and on aching parts of their bodies. With autistic kids, make sure you don’t apply any on their hands. They might touch their eyes or other sensitive areas and might cause pain.
  • Instead of a diffuser, you can add drops to cotton balls. Place these in areas where you want the scent to spread. Make sure it’s beyond any child’s reach.

Safety First!

Plant extracts are chemicals that can be volatile. Essential oils are a mixture of these compounds. So, I advise you to use these sparingly. One drop can go a long way.  

Essential oil makers don’t need FDA approval for their products. But, U.S. laws prohibit them from claiming their oils can treat medical conditions. As I said, research is still ongoing.

Yes, these improve a room’s scent. But, essential oils can seriously harm people when accidentally ingested or spilled on the skin and eyes.

While there’s no conclusive evidence that essential oils are effective, treat these as supplements to proper medical care, not a replacement. People who use oils as replacements might be taking unnecessary risks.     

Lastly, if you’re buying essential oils, read the instructions carefully. Be prudent.

Like many other substances, handle these with care. Test one essential oil at a time. Monitor how your child will respond. Keep in mind that these oils are not for everybody.

Remember, your priority is your child’s health. So, consult your doctor before using.


  • Cam Russo

    Cam is a blogger, author, and content strategist with a keen love for the written word. His journey with high-functioning autism has kindled a strong advocacy for autism awareness. Today, Cam dedicates his efforts to educating parents. He sees laughter as a game-changer in learning, and strives every day to make education a fun and enjoyable journey for all his readers.