Toxins have the potential to affect us in a variety of ways. Our kids with autism are especially at risk since they tend to have more trouble detoxifying than their neurotypical peers.
Build up or exposure to toxins can cause troublesome behaviors in our kids. Learning about these toxins can help you make educated choices about what you want your kids exposed to and which healthier alternatives you may want to try.
Common Sources of Household Toxins
Scented Products like air fresheners, laundry detergent, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, and car air fresheners all contain scents or smells. If you look to see what’s in these products you may not be able to read the ingredients and you may not even see the ingredients listed on the packaging. Even if you do find the ingredients, you should know none of it needs to be approved by the FDA.
This is especially concerning if you think about what is actually occurring in our bodies when we smell something. When we smell a scent something has to get into our nose and stimulate our olfactory system. The olfactory system then triggers a response in our brain to identify the smell. If there was truly no smell none of that would happen and we wouldn’t smell anything.
Clean smells like nothing.
These particles that trigger our olfactory gland are entering into our body and our kid’s bodies. That’s reason enough to pause and ask yourself what those ingredients are and whether or not you want them in your houses at all.
Safe Alternatives to 3 Common Scented Household Products
- Dryer sheets and fabric softeners.
These products are used by plenty of people to “freshen” and soften their laundry. But, we know if we’re smelling it there are particles getting into the air and into our noses.
Since these smells are designed to stay on the fabric for a long time and we use them on our towels and clothes, the chemicals causing these smells are in turn being rubbed over our skin and consequently being absorbed into our bodies through our skin.
Try this instead: Dryer balls.
Dryer balls, which come in wool or plastic form, are a great alternative to dryer sheets. I prefer the wool dryer balls since they make less noise in the dryer and you can add a drop of your favorite essential oil if you’re still looking for a scented laundry product.
- Air fresheners and room sprays.
Lysol, other bathroom sprays, and Febreeze are popular products used to “remove” unpleasant smells. But what they’re really doing is masking the offensive odor with chemicals which may end up being more harmful than the original problematic smell.
These sprays can contain chemicals that cause asthma, hormone disruption, and other allergic reactions. When you have an autistic child, or any child, who can’t detoxify their system as quickly or efficiently as an adult it’s best to avoid bringing these products into your home.
Try this instead: Find the smell’s origin and remove the problem.
- Candles and plug-ins.
It’s hard to know what is actually in these scented products. If it’s not an essential oil you can bet there are toxins being released into the air within your home.
Try this instead: Diffuse your favorite essential oil to provide a safe pleasant smelling environment.
It can be scary to think about all the ways we’re exposed to toxins from products we think are safe. But, especially since the FDA doesn’t regulate these products it’s important to be careful and intentional about what you bring into your home and expose your family to.
My general rule is – if I bring a product into my house that smells like something I want to know why it smells and what gives it the scent. If I don’t know what it is or I know it’s unsafe or toxic I’m not bringing it into my home. Instead I’ll use essential oils as a non-toxic alternative.
I’m hopeful that you’ve learned something that you can use today to make an educated and intentional choice to help your child and your family.
Be gentle with yourself. You’re doing a great job.
I hope this information has been helpful to you as part of creating Your Autism Game Plan.
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