Question:

Our child smells everything. He is almost 8, and I have never seen this before. He says he can’t stop. I want to help him before it’s a problem. He also seems to be over-sensitive to sound. He can be totally fine and as soon as we walk into the church, he is a different child. Help!

Answer:

Some kids use smell to calm themselves down, especially if he’s bothered by sound or other environmental things. In the short term, I would set up a sensory diet to include scented markers, scented clay, etc., to meet that need, along with some good calming “red arrow” activities to settle his nervous system. Some kids also like a braided bracelet to wear that has a few drops of essential oil on it. Try pine or vanilla maybe (whatever he prefers is fine, but stay away from lavender for boys. Some research indicates it causes hormonal changes). This will allow him something appropriate to smell in times when he needs that. Teach him that it is okay to smell his bracelet anytime in public, but that he should refrain from smelling other objects. If his inappropriate smelling persists, check with his pediatrician to make sure there isn’t a medical issue underlying the sudden change of behavior.

Best Wishes,
Gwen