Friday, April 21, 2017

Autism Awareness

Autism Awareness Q&A at Full Sail, Orlando, FL April 2017
Thomas Sanders, Ari Cricks,
Emma Donahue and Adam Boryszewski
Last Friday, I had the immense pleasure of participating in Thomas Sanders’ Q&A video for Autism Awareness Month. I was part of a panel of three people involved in the autistic community. We asked Thomas multiple-choice questions to see how much he knew about autism, with the goal of educating him and his viewers.

Since the 3-hour conversation is being squished into 18 minutes for the video, and because there exist people (including some in the autism community) who are unable or unwilling to watch things of that length, I’ve decided to write a series of posts about autism, drawing from research, the discussion we had last Friday, and my own personal experience.

[UPDATE] The video was released on Thomas Sanders’ YouTube channel on the 29th of April 2017. Watch below!

Here are some of the basics of autistic sensitivities you may not fully understand.

When I hear a sound, it’s always loud. No matter how quiet something is, even if it’s a pencil scratching paper, it is always some degree of loud to me. In middle and high school, my way of dealing with this was to hide during lunch and any time there were loud noises. I would hide under the table in math class, in the conference room in the library, or in the storage closet during gym. When there was no alternative, I would sit in the corner covering my ears and rocking.

Needless to say, my peers and superiors didn’t take this very well. They would often try to touch me during this time of sensory overload (either to get my attention or to move me) or think I was upset and try to console or comfort me. But all I needed was isolation and some earplugs! For many years I used foam plugs that muffled the sound and made it hard for me to hear the full spectrum of an orchestra or even conversations.  My dad recently got me a pair of Eargasm earplugs that reduce the volume but still allow me to hear sounds clearly and sharply.  

Anytime I am trying to think or focus, particularly when I try to tune out outside sensory input, I will stim. People always seem to be concerned when I shake my head for minutes at a time or I blink rapidly, but that’s just what my body does. At different times of the day I have to do different things. When I do the dishes, for example, I always listen to the soundtrack from Heathers the Musical, starting with the second song.

Some stimming behaviours can be harmful, like teeth-grinding or skin-picking. I've found a great solution for low-profile, non-harmful stimming: stim toys from . My favourite is the black gem-shaped chewy necklace ( Instead of stimming by chewing on a pen or grinding my teeth, I have something discreet to munch on that fits my taste (pun intended). I plan on getting a black spinner ring as well.

Neurotypical (non-autistic) people can sometimes be annoyed with autistic people due to stimming to the point of distraction, but trust me, trying to stop us will make things worse and dysfunctional. It’s not something we choose to do. It’s something our brain MAKES us do. Everybody stims sometimes to a certain extent (for example having a restless leg), so remember that for autistic people it’s just to an extreme.

For the most part, touching an autistic person is not okay. Remember I mentioned that when I hid from sounds people would try to touch me and that physically stopping an autistic person from stimming makes it worse? Touching an autistic person can send them into an involuntary episode of physical and verbal flailing. From the outside, it looks like a tantrum.

One time in 6th grade, I got in a food fight, and it was all fun and games until I got a banana thrown in my eye. I freaked out, and when I tried to go to the nurse and get my eye looked at (it was swollen shut) and file a report on the incident, an administrator tried to stop me by physically restraining me. I involuntarily started yelling and throwing my arms around and hit her square in the face. I could have gotten expelled for that involuntary reflex. Thankfully that administrator recognised there was no intent on my part of hurting her and that she shouldn’t have touched me. But we did have to schedule a parent conference and talk through it all.  So yeah, don’t touch an autistic person without permission.

Another thing that can really mess with an autistic person is olfaction, or smell and taste. When someone orders food and when it comes they beg someone to take it away or throw it away from them, it is usually because they can’t stand the smell or taste. Autistic people tend to be hypersensitive to smell or taste, and anything that is too strong in any direction – perfume or sewage for examples – can make it nearly impossible for an autistic person to breathe.

When I was in fourth grade, every Thursday my teacher, Miss Duckworth, would have us take two lemon Lysol wipes and a pink air freshener bottle and clean our desks inside and out. Every time I did it, I would begin to choke and have to be sent outside. Eventually, we figured out that I couldn’t be around fragrances without choking on them. So now I use fragrance-free products as much as possible. My favorite way to freshen the air without toxicity is to use essential oils in a diffuser. Grapefruit and tangerine are my favourite oils. Young Living is the best brand to use since they don't add any surprise ingredients that can cause a bad reaction. Fill out the Contact Form to the right for more information about essential oils. 

The final thing that I will address today is texture. Touching things with certain textures just feels wrong. The thought of touching velvet, for example, makes me nauseous, and if I touch it I have to immediately stroke something that is a good texture, and wash my hands and cover them with lotion. I can’t wear normal t-shirts because it feels like they are grating on my skin.

It’s not just the texture of clothing or other external objects. Autistic people can also be made extremely uncomfortable by the textures of foods or their own body. For example, I love the taste of mushrooms, but putting a mushroom in my mouth makes me gag. I just can’t handle the sliminess. Eating crab the one time I did was a similar experience. No matter how much butter and garlic I used to cover the King Crab on my plate, I couldn’t swallow that texture.

Anxiety and Sensory Overload

Not everyone on the autistic spectrum has difficulty with all of these senses, or to a debilitating degree. Just like autism itself, hypersensitivity is a spectrum. But all of the sensory input can lead to sensory overload, a state where hypersensitivity gets even worse and everything around a person hurts. Every smell and light source and texture is just too much. The best way I've found to deal with this and other anxieties is to be completely isolated in a dark quiet room, similar to the way one would deal with a migraine. To numb the anxiety I use a roller-bottle with lavender, orange, cedarwood, and vetiver oils in coconut oil. 

I’ve told you a little bit about many different things today. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will tell you more about some of the things I’ve covered, as well as some things that I haven’t. In the meantime, stay tuned! And while you're waiting for the updated post of the forthcoming video, here's a really good poem a friend of Deidra's wrote for Autism Awareness month.

Light it up blue?  by Melinda Coppola


Sunday, April 16, 2017

It's Mono Season!

So I found out this week that one of my friends and their date-mate both have mono. Yikes! Trying to be the helpful friend, I looked around in my Young Living circle to see if anyone had used essential oils to help the body heal from mononucleosis. I didn’t get much information from them, so Deidra and I explored the abyss that is the internet, and came up with some recommendations that we think can help my friend and anyone else with mono (or any nasty virus) to support their immune systems.

Mononucleosis is a highly infectious virus that is known as the “kissing disease” because it is very easily passed through saliva exchange. The symptoms can include fatigue, a sore throat, fever, swollen lymph nodes, swollen tonsils, headache, skin rash, a compromised liver, a swollen spleen, and a general feeling of unhealthiness. No actual cure is available, but here are several natural remedies that can help you feel better sooner and stay above the wellness line.

Taking 2-3 drops of Thieves™ essential oil internally in a capsule along with a few drops of a carrier oil (coconut oil is the best, but grapeseed and olive will also work), or mixing a bit with a cup of tea is the quickest way to get this immune-supportive oil in your system. If ingestion doesn’t work with your body, then rubbing a few drops of Thieves on the bottoms of your feet twice a day also works, because the largest pores of your whole body are on the bottoms of your feet. In fact, you should be able to feel like you taste or smell the oil within 35-40 seconds of rubbing it in, and it will get into every cell of your body within 20 minutes after you apply.  This is because essential oil molecules are super tiny and can go places many other things can't. This topical method can be used 2-3 times daily to help your body to prevent relapses, and help to keep other viruses taking hold while your body is in a weakened state.

If you want an extra kick in the capsule, add a few drops of Oregano essential oil along with your carrier oil. You may feel like you've even Italian food all week, but it seriously takes care of business. Just google it! The most palatable way Deidra and I have found to drink it is to mix a few drops in a large mug of mint tea. It almost tastes like it's supposed to be there.

Both Oregano and Thieves(tm) come in Young Living's FDA-approved Vitality(r) line, so they are totally safe to ingest.

Everybody knows that Coconut Oil is good for you in many forms, but it seems to be the number one remedy for helping you get back on your feet after you've been infected with a virus like mono.  Why? Because it contains Monolaurin, a molecule that comes from lauric acid, a constituent of coconuts. Monolaurin helps boost your immune response to a range of viruses including influenza and even Herpes.  It actually helps prevent virus cells from entering their target, us!
So down that coconut oil any time you think a virus may be at work.  The best way to get it working for your body is to just eat it straight up. Swallow a tablespoon of cold-pressed, unrefined coconut oil every morning and evening. If even the thought of it makes you gag, you can add it to tea, coffee, or golden milk. In the morning, we recommend putting an extra helping in bulletproof coffee! 

This is one thing that you don’t just want to ingest unless you have low blood sugar like me. Otherwise, the best way to use this is to gargle it. Use ½ tsp of salt (Himalayan pink salt or sea salt is best) for every 1 cup of purified hot water. This helps to soothe and heal your mouth, and the salt can help to dry out your sinuses.

ACV or Apple Cider Vinegar
Drinking a cup of warm water with 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon of honey 2-3 times per day can help to flush out your body. Some folks even add their Thieves™ oil to counteract the taste of the vinegar.  The ACV balances out the pH in your stomach so you can heal faster, has antioxidant properties, and contains a variety of vitamins and minerals. Honey is antiviral and can help to eliminate the virus from your system completely. If you can’t or don’t eat honey, the drink won’t have the same effect, but use a sweetener of your choice, just not sugar. The ACV and water alone is pretty unpleasant so vegans like me can use stevia, coconut sugar, agave, or maple syrup.

Although Vitamin C is by no means the cure to the common cold, it DOES help to support your immune system and is an antioxidant. As part of a treatment regimen for mono and other viruses, Vitamin C can help to shorten the duration of the condition. It’s a water-soluble vitamin, so there is no need to worry about taking too much of it in the short-term. It should flush out of your system if you ingest more than your body can use.

Don’t drink alcohol, as your liver is compromised. Sugar and dairy should be avoided, as they can reverse the effects of many of the remedies listed above and can screw up your gut pH. Junk food, fried food, and fatty food should also be avoided, for obvious reasons.

Sleep, plain filtered water or with citrus (particularly lemon juice or any citrus essential oil), and consistent rest are the best way to get your body better. Good luck, and we hope you feel better soon!

Please be aware that all essential oils are not the same. Some oils, especially those sold by private vendors on the internet and even brands sold in retail establishments can be low quality or even diluted with unknown carrier oils that could make you sick. We only recommend Young Living essential oils because of their high quality, organic growing methods, strict distillation practices and the professional standards of Young Living. 
To order YL Essential Oils: Email us at or directly online:

This blog post written by Ari

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Think Dirty - Household Cleaner

So my fave housecleaner, Lysol, is no longer welcome here at our house.  I loved the lemon clean smell that I grew up with but it really irritated Ari's sinuses. They hated how it smelled and decided to do a little research on the subject of cleaning products, specifically Lysol Clean & Fresh cleaner. It’s pretty bad. In fact, the EWG rates it an F.

The obvious concerns are respiratory effects and skin damage. All but two of the disclosed ingredients that have data can cause major respiratory problems. Our old friend generic fragrance is back at it again with the acute skin and respiratory toxicity, along with its friends sodium borate (which can also cause skin damage, subfertility, and birth defects) and limonene (a culprit of contact dermatitis, organ effects, asthma, and cancer). Fun stuff!

So we chose a natural product that smells amazing to both of us. Needless to say, we’re glad we switched to Thieves™. Since we found out that there is evidence backing the main ingredient of Lysol as promoting organ failure, we figured you might want to switch, too.

The reason that Thieves™ household cleaner is a great replacement is that it has NONE of those nasties; instead, it uses all-natural essential oils from Young Living, specifically clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus radiata, and rosemary, all of which also come in the FDA-approved Vitality® line, so all of which are safe and edible. That way if your food falls on the counter or your kids run across the freshly-mopped floor, you won’t need to worry! Young Living has you covered. It’s better for the environment as well, since the Lysol going down the toilet drain is a danger to aquatic life.

Thieves™ cleaner might seem a bit expensive at first but you only use a capful in a quart of water for a great household spray or spot cleaner for your carpet. It doesn’t come in those convenient wipes Lysol either but we have a recipe to make your own wipes that smell even better! So you have easy access cleaning that’s REALLY clean and not toxic. 

There are so many ways you can use this cleaner that we have thrown out lots of products: carpet shampoo, glass cleaner, fruit and veggie spray, wood cleaner, and laundry detergent, to name a few.  So we now have a lot fewer nasty chemicals in our home to screw up our bodies and cause issues we don't need.  And best of all, we find Thieves does a much better job even though it is natural enough to ingest.

If you would like to try Thieves foaming hand soap and get wholesale pricing contact me at or order direct here:

Here are a few recipes for making your own products from the Thieves cleaner:

Autism Awareness

Thomas Sanders, Ari Cricks, Emma Donahue and Adam Boryszewski Last Friday, I had the immense pleasure of participating in Thomas Sande...