Autism Journey: Improve Sleep

 Many children with autism spectrum disorder have difficulty with sleep. This can be stressful for children and their families. Here is some suggestions from research and clinical experience. When Miles was a baby he slept horrible. We were often awake day and night, so of course he would be overtired. Then of course everyone would exhausted and short temper. When Miles was 18 months he would scream all night even if I was holding him. He would thrash his body around on the floor or in my arms and scream. I was often crying because of being utterly exhausted but also did not know how to help my little one sleep.

So here is some tips that might help you.

Provide a Comfortable Sleep Setting

  • The bedroom should be comfortable.
  • The room should be quiet at night 
    • Miles doesn't mind the noise he usually likes some classical music playing. 
  • Consider the environment
    • Children with ASD may be more aware of noises at night that do not bother other children. 
    • Some may even have problem with certain bedding. 
Establish Regular Bedtime Habits
  • Establish bedtime habits that are short, predictable, and expected. 
  • Start the routine 15 to 30 minutes before the set bedtime
  • It should take place in the child's bedroom where it's quiet
  • Your child will be calmed when the routine is done in the same order each night. 
  • Young children or children with ASD will benefit from visual schedules.
  • Determine which events are calming and which events are stimulating. 
Keep a Regular Schedule
  • Choose a Bedtime and Keep It.
    •  Leave events early, don't let them stay up past bedtime for nothing not even on the weekends. 
  • Time it Right.
    • Children get a "second wind" in the hour before bedtime. If your child takes an hour to fall asleep, think about putting off bedtime by 30 minutes to 1 hour to try to help sleep. 
  • Early to Rise
    • Even if your child goes to sleep late at times, keep the wake up time the same or not more than one hour later then normal wake up. 
  • Nap Time
    • If your child is young and has a daytime nap stay on time with regular schedule. Do not let child sleep past 4pm. If your child is older has outgrown naps avoid naps unless they are sick. 
  • Food Counts
    • Schedule meal times.
    • No heavy meals before bed
    • light snack before bed with carbs will help child sleep. 
  • Sunlight/Moonlight
    • Expose to sunshine in the morning and darkness at night to help with regular schedule. 
Here is our bedtime Schedule:
5:00pm: Dinner 
6:00pm: PJs and brush teeth
6:30pm: Calm down time
6:45pm: Scripture and prayer
6:50pm: Book
7:00pm: Bed 
7:30pm: Offically asleep 

Miles will sleep for the most part all night now. It's been a long time coming but we finally got to that point. 

Teach Your Child to Fall Asleep Alone 
  • What helps in my house is my kids are allowed books and their flashlight to look at quietly until 7:30pm. But they rarely make it anymore. 
This what works in my family and we have been doing since my daughter was a baby. My husband and I are able to use 7:00pm to go shopping when we have a sitter. Or just relax without worrying about the kids. It's been nice and we are able to get a sitter once the kids are sleeping. 

What is your bedtime schedule? Comment below


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