A COMPLEMENTARY therapy course run by Knowsley Council for parents and carers of children with complex needs is transforming families’ lives. Aromatouch is a practical course using massage and essential oils to help support the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of children with additional needs. Parents on the course have children with a range of complex disabilities and families find themselves having to cope with numerous challenges, upsets and frustrations on a daily basis. Parents who have completed the course say how delighted they are with the impact Aromatouch activities are having on their child’s wellbeing and the whole family’s home life. Children who had previously rejected touch are now able to enjoy massage and cuddles with their siblings and parents. Families also find their children have improved sleep patterns, better moods and that Aromatouch can also help with pain relief. It has a remarkable impact on children with autism too. Mandy Webster recently completed the 12 week Aromatouch course which is funded by Knowsley Council’s Short Breaks programme for people who care for children with additional needs. Mandy’s eldest son, Daniel, 12, has Angelman Syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the nervous system and causes severe physical and intellectual disability. Mandy says she can’t believe the difference Aromatouch has made to her family’s life: “Daniel can become difficult on both a physical and emotional level, especially when he has not slept well, which is often the case. Recently he is also having more upsets due to hormonal changes as he approaches his teens. “Aromatouch has helped to bring feelings of calm and joy to our home and family. Essential oils and story massage has really helped Daniel cope with a range of emotional feelings and hormonal induced upsets.” Cllr See, Knowsley Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “As Mandy’s story demonstrates the results of Aromatouch activities for children with complex needs and their families can be quite literally life changing. I hope we can find and help other families of disabled children in Knowsley who may be unaware of the help and support available through our Short Breaks programme.” Aromatouch was created by the International Federation of Aromatherapists. They monitor and assess each course. Knowsley’s course, which is run by Sheila Ladanowski, an experienced clinical aromatherapist, has been commended by the Federation. The Federation has funded four extra places on Knowsley’s course this year and Everton in the Community has funded two extra places for female participants from its Blue Belles programme, a project for local women who have children with various disabilities that offers them the opportunity of respite and time to focus on themselves for a few hours a week. For more information about Knowsley Council’s Aromatouch course, or the Short Breaks programme, please contact Danielle Hogan on 443 5601.