Monday, October 15, 2012

Aromatherapy for DS


When you walk into your relative's home as they are preparing a holiday dinner, and the wonderful smells bring back memories, make you smile, and instantly lighten your mood, then you already know that aromatherapy can have a positive affect on you.  What about the latest perfumed lotion from Bath & Body?  What about a new candle scent?  Just as therapeutic listening can help stimulate the brain for speech and learning, so can aromatherapy stimulate the brain and strengthen the immune system. 

I have read many times that children with Down Syndrome learn best by incoorporating all five of the senses.  seeing (flashcards, learning videos), hearing (therapeutic listening, saying flashcards out loud), touching (hands on learning, Montessori style learning, exploring textures), taste (starting early with different textures and stimulating the taste buds with a variety of foods), and smelling (aromatherapy).  Read more below and look at the following websites.  It is one of those therapies the entire family will benefit from, because your home will smell amazing.
. - has a child with DS, so check out her DS section

The following is taken from Down Syndrome Support w/Brittany Martinez on facebook.

What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the inhalation and bodily application of essential oils from aromatic plants to relax, balance, rejuvenate, restore or enhance body, mind and spirit. Pure essential oils are extracted from many parts of the plant including the flower, leaf, resin, bark, root, twig, seed, berry, rind and rhizome. Aromatherapy is powerful not just because it’s healing benefits of the body, but also because it’s soothing effects on the emotions. Essential oils can work almost instantly, especially for hormonal and emotional concerns. They go to work immediately in the body because they don’t have to go through the digestive system to get to the blood stream.

Are Essential Oils Safe for Children?

Essential oils are safe as long as you follow the safety recommendations and perform a skin patch test when you use the oil for the first time on the skin. Essential oils are more potent than herbs so less amount is needed in order to achieve the desired effect. Never use the oils undiluted on the skin. The only exceptions are tea tree and lavender, which can be used in tiny amounts on stings, wounds or a small burn. Carefully follow directions on dilution before use. It is also important not to use the same essential oils more than one week at a time, so if longer time is needed just alternate with other essential oils.

How will Aromatherapy benefit my child?

There are many ways to incorporate essential oils into a child’s life and they respond very positively to aromatherapy. Methods include aromatic baths, lotions, and inhalation. Many children also enjoy hand or foot massage. A drop or two of an essential oil on a pillow case is a great way to use essential oils when the child is congested or has a hard time falling asleep.

Calming Overactivity

Essential Oils can help calm an overactive child. An overactive child isn’t necessary “hyperactive” and sometimes children are overactive only at certain times. Refined carbohydrates, MSG, food colors and additives have been known to cause overactivity in children. Essential oils may also be beneficial in tantrums, anxiety attacks, and overtiredness. Aromatherapy works well on a subtle level. Relaxation oils are natural plant derivatives that may aid the body in:
       slowing the respiration and heart rate
       soothing an overstimulated nervous system

Here is a recommended mixture to use for calming an overactive child:

Calming Mist- a room spray to relax, this can be diffused in the air, and you can even spray it on things if needed.
1 cup distilled water
10 drops lavender
5 drops marjoram
2 drops sandalwood
a spray bottle with mist nozzle

This massage blend can also be used for calming an overactive child:

Aromatic Massage Oil for Children
2 tbl. Warm vegetable oil
5-10 drops of Lavender or mandarin

Mix the essential oils in the warm vegetable oil. You can make this ahead and keep it in a dark or amber glass bottle. The essential oil blends should be kept in dark bottles. Massage the feet, working towards the heart.
Other relaxing and calming oils are chamomile, clary sage, mandarin, marjoram, neroli, orange, sandalwood and tangerine.

Bedtime Baths 

It can be a challenge many times to get a child to go to sleep but I noticed that a relaxing calm bath can make wonders at bedtime. Before the bath time you can try to give the child a cup of diluted chamomile tea. Lavender and mandarin are well liked by children and they can be used in a hand or foot massage before bedtime.
Favorite Bath Blend
Lavender 2 drops
Mandarin 2 drops

Add this to vegetable oil and add to the bath water and swish. You can of course switch mandarin for another oil or use only lavender.
Other relaxing oils for bedtime are bergamot, chamomile, clary sage, frankincense, geranium, marjoram, rose, ylang ylang.

How can Aromatherapy help my child with Down Syndrome?

Essential oils are ideal for respiratory infections of any kind because of their antiviral and antibacterial activity. Essential oils always work naturally with the body to promote homeostasis -a state of balance and well being. This is very important when working with anyone, but is more consequential when working with a individuals with Down Syndrome, who have a weakened immune system.

Essential Oils for Respiratory:
Ravensara - antiviral, antibacterial, antitumeral. Works well when an infection (i.e. green/white mucus) is present.
Eucalyptus Radiata - antibacterial, antiviral, expectorant, anti-inflammatory. Ideal for any type of respiratory or viral infection.
Myrtle - antimutagenic, liver stimulant, thyroid stimulant, sinus/lung decongestant. Wonderful for dispelling mucus.
Sandalwood - antitumoral, antiviral, immune stimulant. Enhances deep sleep stimulates the limbic region of the brain, where emotions may be stored.
Vetiver - relaxant, circulatory stimulant, anti-inflammatory. Is very grounding, calming & stabilizing.

Update 01/09/13:  I have been using the essential oils for a variety of issues, such as respiratory and constipation.  They have proven very effective.  They are non toxic, have a wonderful aroma, and do better than anything I could purchase in stores.  I read the label of a Vick's baby rub, it contains lavender, eucalyptus, and rosemary in a petroleum base.  This is what I place in the humidifier's at night when my daugthers had congestions.  I also place a few drops of lavender and eucalyptus in their baths at night, as well as use the Plague Defense (aka "thieves oil") or Respiratory relief in the diffuser when they have any issues going on.  I tried using myrtle on a Q-tip and swabbed the inside of my nose when I had congestion and surprisingly, all cogestion stopped within minutes and lasted 3-4 hours.  You can rub oils that have been diluted with a carrier oil directly onto your child's chest or on the soles of their feet.  I rub Frankincense on the soles of their feet each day to stimulate the immune system.  I have really enjoyed learning an alternative and natural way to help my family.  I am not against medications, but if you have a choice that works naturally and effectively, you should try it.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Oh how a healthy heart can heal an entire family.

Having a child with Down syndrome can bring many challanges.  The hardest day for me and Chad was October 13, 2011, the day Emmalin had to undergo open heart surgery.  For the last year I have not shared these pictures.  We have kept them very private.  No photo sharing on facebook and only one or two shared via text.  I felt that they were just too hard on the eye.  One year later I feel different. 
I feel that it is important for future parents to see our journey.  To see the incision, the tubes, the monitors, the tape, the IV's and the breathing tube.  Please know that everything your child will endure will make him or her stronger, healthier and happier.  All of those cardiologist appointments that you race to will soon be scheduled farther apart.  Your child that did not have the strength to make it through a feeding without sweating and falling asleep will get stronger.  All of those nights of checking and double checking and triple checking will get better.  The anticipation of what is to come will feel completely different.  There will not be "fear of the future" there will be "hope for the future".  After you see your child and your family conquer this you will realize that God's plan is good, he is in control and everything is going to be okay.  God gave us a child with Down syndrome because he knew our family was strong.  He gave us a heart patient because he knew we needed to be reassured that all will be okay.  Prayer, time, patience, faith and trust have carried us through.
If you are the parent of a child that will undergo surgery please know that this post is meant to start your healing process now.  We started to heal after Emmalin's surgery.  We were entering a world of the unknown.  Prior to Emmalin's surgery I thought I was struggling with her Down syndrome diagnosis.  After her heart repair I quickly realized that it was not the Down syndrome that scared me it was the heart.  The heart I could not fix, the heart could kill her, to be blunt...the heart scared the hell of me and I wanted no part of it.  It was much bigger than me and too big to comprehend.  It was the first thing in my life that I was too scared to hold on too but too scared to let go of and turn over to God.  She is MY child and I wanted her to have a healthy heart.  Chad reminded me to trust God and turn to my faith.  He once again stood strong and lifted me up from my fear of the unknown.
That fall morning in October we were no longer the parents of a child with Down syndrome, we were the parents of a child with complete atrioventricular canal defect or CAVCD for short.  Emmalin had a large whole in the middle of her little heart.  She only had an upper and lower chamber, no left or right.  It would be the job of the Dr. Michiaki Imamura to repair her defect and our job to pray for God to guide his hand.

Emma the day before here surgery getting her final EKG all 13 electrodes.

The morning of-walking into Arkansas Children's Hospital.

Waiting for the doctors to come and get Emmalin.  We had great support from That Church who came to pray with us and the doctors prior to surgery.  Thank you to Scott Harness and an amazing staff.

I thought I was prepared, I thought I was in a good place, I thought I was at peace...until I had to hand her over.  Then I realized that I wanted to run.  Run with Emma as far away as fast as I could.  Then I started to cry, then I started to shake and Lord did I shake.

Then I prayed, and prayed and prayed.

Loving Father, I entrust my child to your care this day; guide with wisdom and skill the minds and hands of the medical people who minister in your Name, and grant that every cause of illness be removed, may my child be restored to soundness of health and learn to live in more perfect harmony with you and with those around her. Through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Hours later, it was time to see her.

So overwhelming.

Emma enjoyed her music every night.  She had everything from The Beach Boys to Dolly Parton to Loretta Lynn to nursery rhymes and Mozart.

Dad looked good the entire time at the hospital.

Good night kisses.

Amazing staff made it a little easier to get some rest.

Collapsed lung a few days after surgery.  We did not expect that, but she recovered fast.

Finally after hours and hours and was time to hold her.
Time to feel her new heart against mine and watch her breath on her own.

Getting stronger and stronger.  Eyes open and feet kicking.

Night time story.

Dad and mom starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Surrounded by so much love and compassion.

Finally eating on her own.

In stepdown at CVICU and Emmalin resting comfortably.

Chad trying to lighten the mood a little..always room for dessert.

Aunt Tracy came to sit and play with her niece Emma while dad and mom  had date night at the hospital.  She brought steak and goodies compliments of Uncle Chris.  Oh family and friends support was unbelievable.  We are truly blessed.

Emmalin's last nurse in step down.  She also has a child with Down syndrome and was a true angel.

Going home.

Home and resting on mommy.

That was then and This is now.

Emma 6 months later with her cardiologist Dr. Sachdeva.
So so so strong and happy.

Hammock therapy.

Finger painting with sister.

Playing with brother.

Mom brings the crawling track out after chest has fully recovered.  Emma protests by flipping over.

What am I suppose to do with this again?

Could not do this before my surgery.

Hehehehe...pretty lady.

First official World Down syndrome day in the Ambeau house.

Strong enough to plank.

First weekend at the lake.  Look at Emma feeding herself like a big girl and sitting up.

Nana and Papa's house and cowboy hats.

First time to taste ice cream does call for party hats.

So strong.

Eating and eating and eating.  Getting so much bigger and stronger.

Uh oh...don't let PT see this please.

Almost there.

Banging things together and getting into things.  Love It.

Getting tubes...will be hearing everything 100% of the time soon.

And she stands up!

And sneaks up and looks up.

Mom insisting on a correct crawl.

Straw drinking with honey bear.  Oh a proud day.

Immitating daddy.

Oral motor therapy.  Over with in no time and on to some grub.

Putting objects in all alone.

Playing ball with Heather.

Climbing to see Emma's beautiful face.

Working on proud.


4 point crawl-check....NEXT.

Pointing, turning pages....NEXT.

Saying apple with Alice...NEXT.

Saying NaNa and Bye Bye.

Colors...YEP got it.

And her voice!

As I said earlier, we were the parents of a child with complete atrioventricular canal defect or CAVCD for short but we are now the parents of a child with CAVCDR or complete atrioventricular canal defect REPAIR.  Oh how far our family has come in 1 year.  Thank you God once again for Emmalin, Down syndrome and a healthy heart.

Give yourself fully to the adventure of today.  Walk boldly along the path of Life, relying on your ever-present Companion.  You have every reason to be confident, because My Presence accompanies you all the day of your life-and onward into eternity.  Do not give in to fear or worry, those robbers of abundant living.  Trust Me enough to face problems as they come, rather than trying to anticipate them.  Fix your eyes on Me, the Author and Perfecter of your faith, and many difficulties on the road ahead will vanish before you reach them.  Whenever you start to feel afraid, remember that I am holding you by your right hand.  Nothing can separate you from My Presence!
Hebrews 12:2; Isaiah 41:

An amazing support group that continues to grow is so important.  Thank God we have one.

For more stories regarding OHS please visit the following blog for a collection of stories: