Essential oils tested for calming kids with autism

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WPVI) -- For thousands of years, essential oils have had many uses, from medicine to massage.

These days, parents say oils like sandalwood and lavender can help calm children with autism.

Now scientists at Ohio State University are studying them to see if they are safe for kids, and whether they work.

During the study, the oils will be rubbed onto kids, and also used in a diffuser in their bedrooms.

Watch-like devices will record their activity levels.

"A lot of these children wake up during the night, and it will capture those times. So it's got minutes awake, minutes asleep, et cetera," says Dr. Jill Holloway of the Nisonger Center at the Wexner Ohio State University Medical Center.

Evenings used to be a challenge for Shannon Coconis.

Twelve-year-old Sam used to delay his bedtime getting distracted with electronics.

Coconis, who has already been using oils, says they've ended bedtime battles with her son.

"He's gotten so much better. If I have to go up maybe once to tell him to stay in his room, that's it, versus 10 to 15 times before," says Coconis.

Researchers hope to test more than two dozen kids during two years.
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