Monday, January 9, 2012

Great Article on Sleep & Autism

Sleep and Autism – Creative Tips for a Successful Bedtime

September 6, 2011
Getting your child with autism to sleep can often be a huge challenge. Some childen wake up after a few hours of sleep…then they cannot fall back to sleep. Others toss and turn for half the night before they fall asleep. Some just refuse to comply with any instruction…bedtime included.

Routine is Important for a Child with Autism

It is very important to have a bedtime routine of some sort to cue your child in to the fact that it is time to go to sleep.
  • Try to always have him go to sleep at the same time every night.
  • Try to have some quiet time before he goes to sleep, perhaps reading a book together.
This gives you quality time together and relaxes him as he gets ready to go to sleep.
You can take turns reading, you can have him read, you can do the reading, it doesn't matter; it's just something to focus on before he goes to sleep. After the story is done, he knows it is time to go to bed; no bathroom trips are permitted after this time.

Story Technique

Another technique is to have him make up a story in his head. Tell him to lie down and close his eyes, and imagine a story. Have him tell it to you. It can be about a rabbit going down a rabbit hole, or a trip to Disneyland, or a fun outing with friends, or anything he wants.
This will give him something to focus on other than the racing thoughts that tend to keep people awake, and it will lull him gently to sleep. If he has trouble thinking of anything, you can tell him a simple story, ask him to imagine it in his head, and describe it to you—the sights, the colors, the smells, and the sounds.

Relaxation Techniques

If your child with autism is all wound up tight like a spring, chances are that he or she will not be asleep anytime soon. Until they wind down and are relaxed, sleep won't arrive.
Relaxation techniques can be a savior to help your child wind down and finally get to sleep.
Some kid with autism have a tough time explaining and expressing their needs which makes it tough for them to unwind and relax. It is quite typical of kids with autism to have high levels of anxiety…they tend to be worriers.
  • A warm bath right before bed can be very calming. Some moms suggest putting a few drops of lavender oil in the bath…but be cautious of anything that might trigger a sensitivity to smell or touch.
  • How about a massage? I love a nice neck rub. I used to have my son lie on his stomach and I would gently rub his back with an open palm. I would not really massage him as much as just relaxingly stroke his back and shoulders. He would often fall asleep right way.
  • Establish a quiet zone. Your child will not be able to sleep if he hears the TV, other siblings playing, or the dishwasher running. Remember children with autism often have super sensitive hearing and can be distracted by background noises that you and I rarely notice.
  • Exercise such as yoga can be useful. Some moms swear by it.
  • Use your child's sensitivities to your advantage. Some children with autism are will focus on lights. A lava lamp or other type of slow moving light object can allow your child to focus all of her attention thereby eliminating the random, racing thoughts that may be keeping her awake.
With a little forethought and planning, bedtime can be pleasant and peaceful.

Link To Article Sleep & Autism

1 comment:

  1. Your last tip, using sensitivities to our advantage.... brilliant. Will definitely be trying a lava lamp for my little boy! Thanks for the great idea.