Create A Relaxing Sleep Environment
Make their bedroom a happy, peaceful, safe haven. This can be through soft, playful bedsheets, their favorite stuffed animal, cozy pajamas and a glowing nightlight. Other environment tricks include a weighted blanket, a white noise machine to block other sounds and of course, a comfortable mattress. Check out our roundup of the best mattresses for kids.
Take A Close Look At What Your Child Is Eating
You may be surprised at the sugar content in common kids’ snacks! As adults, were mindful of limiting sugars and caffeine as we approach bedtime, but dont forget to consider how your childs diet may be impacting their sleep readiness. Also, be mindful of the nutrients that are lacking in your childs diet. Foods that contain tryptophan, magnesium, calcium, vitamin B6, and naturally-occurring melatonin may be helpful additions to your childs dinnertime meal!
Use Soothing Sensory Experiences For Relaxation
If a bath or shower is an evening activity, follow with five minutes of a towel rub-down, being sure to use downward strokes in the direction the hair grows. A rub-down with lotion may be used to add to the length of this activity. Pressure touch is calming.
After the child is in bed, a back-rub may also be soothing. Again, be sure to start with the neck and go down to the base of the spine. Use slow, rhythmic strokes when one hand is at the base on the spine, start at the back of the neck with the other hand.
Using a soft musical background may help some children to relax and drift off to sleep. It is important to choose the music carefully. It should have a definite predictable rhythm . Orchestral music is preferred to singing, in general.
Reading to the child once he is in bed may be calming. Reading poetry with strong rhythm and rhyme is usually more effective than stories.
Because pressure touch and neutral warmth are both calming, a sleeping bag may promote calm, restful sleep. A mummy bag which fits closely around the body is preferable to a loose one. These are easily constructed. If the parent sells this as the way cowboys sleep or the way astronauts sleep, it will probably be accepted.
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How Aba Therapy Can Help You Fight Insomnia In Autism
Applied behavioral analysis itself doesnt address autism sleep problems directly. But when your child is enrolled in a high-quality ABA Therapy program, they can learn how to effectively communicate their feelings and frustrations about not being able to sleep. ABA therapy can also help you and your child learn how to work together more harmoniously, not only at bedtime but all the time!
As one of the most studied and proven forms of autism therapy, ABA and your childs board-certified behavior analyst can work with you and your child to develop a solid bedtime routine and learn how to handle challenging behaviors at bedtime.
Sleep Hygiene The Dos
While there are things you should avoid when preparing your child for bed, there are some things you should do to make the process easier. Here are the healthy sleep habits that can help children with autism and sensory disorders get healthy sleep.
For more information about healthy sleep hygiene for individuals with autism, visit:
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Always Gently Return Your Child To Their Own Bed
Its important that your child sleeps in their own bed and falls asleep on their own. If they demonstrate anxiety about falling asleep alone, you can try using a reward system or a certain threshold of free passes where you stay in a chair next to their bed until they drift off .
Otherwise, you can make them feel safe by wrapping them in a weighted blanket or playing soft background music. If your child does wake up in the middle of the night and comes to you, calmly return them back to their bed and then step away. Its important that they get into a habit and associate falling asleep without you present.
How Does Autism Affect Sleep In Children
According to a recent study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics, close to half of children diagnosed with some form of autism have significant difficulties with sleep. These difficulties can include problems falling asleep, night waking, early-morning waking, and shorter overall sleeping time. The cause of sleep problems in children with autism has not been found, but there is evidence that sleep issues can worsen behavioral issues and difficulties with social interactions.
The most common sleep problem in autistic children is, insomnia that delays the onset of sleep, according to an article by Spectrum News. Many autistic children may lie awake for several hours because they are simply unable to fall asleep, for a variety of reasons. Inability to fall asleep leads to fewer sleep hours, which can lead to an aggravation of symptoms like irritability and problems focusing. In addition to problems falling asleep, problems with sleep quality are also common in children with autism. On average, autistic children and adolescents spend about 15% of their sleep cycle in REM sleep, compared to 23% in non-autistic children. Going through several complete REM cycles in a night is what gives us good quality sleep, so spending less time in REM sleep through the night can be one of the culprits causing sleep issues in your child.
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Set Up A Safe Comfortable Sleep Environment
Some sleep environments can make it harder for children to get to sleep. Check that your childs sleep space is quiet, dimly lit, and neither too hot nor too cold.
Gradually remove objects that might stop your child from sleeping comfortably. For example, a favourite soft toy in the bed might be OK. But if your child has a whole collection of toy cars in their bed, it might make it hard for your child to get comfortable in bed. You could encourage your child to put one or two cars per night into a box next to their bed.
Rewards can help your child make this change.
Solving Sleep Problems In Children With Asd
Many parents assume that nothing can be done about their nightly struggle to help their child with ASD go to sleep and stay asleep throughout the night. However, research is demonstrating that although common, poor sleep in children with ASD can be tackled effectively and that parent training is key to success. A good nights sleep is fundamental to all children being able to learn and for their parents to function. This event is relevant to both professionals and parents who are looking for practical steps that parents can take to reap the benefits of improved family health and quality of life. While developed specific to autism, many of the strategies that Dr. Malow will describe are relevant to children with a range of special needs.
- Overview of Sleep Issues in Autism
- Best Practices in Sleep Screening
- Practical Sleep Screening
- Working with your Health Care Provider
- Behavioral Treatment Strategies from Vanderbilts Parent Sleep Education Program
- Practical Behavioral Treatment
- designing a program for a parent volunteer based on their childs sleep habits constructing bedtime routine
- inviting a parent volunteer to design a program for their child.
About the Presenter
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Top 10 Strategies To Help Your Autistic Child Sleep
I say these are the top 10 strategies to help your Autistic child sleep however, in actuality there are way way more than 10 strategies in this episode!
In this episode, I will talk about why sleep is so important, why your child might be struggling with sleep, and strategies to support your child and their sleep
This episode is planned to come out right after Christmas and that is definitely on purpose! The holiday season can be a very difficult time for so many Autistic children. Which in turn, means it can be difficult for lots of parents.
Being wound up and having a harder time sleeping can affect the whole family. Lack of sleep doesnt just happen around the holidays though, it is often a constant area of difficulty for so many families that have Autistic children. Now that the holidays are coming to an end, I thought that it would be a great time to try to get to a better place with our childs ability to get a good nights sleep and in turn for us to get to a better place with our sleep!
You And Your Child Dont Have To Live This Way
You and your child already deal with so many challenges resulting from ASD that you may think sleep deprivation is just another one on a long list. But your childs sleep difficulties should not be ignored because they can have serious consequences for your child as well as the entire family.
- Poor sleep exacerbates some of the classic difficulties for children with autism such as weak emotional control, repetitive behaviors, difficulty with social situations and communication, and attention deficits.
- Recent studies indicate that children with ASD may get less rapid eye movement sleep than their neurotypical peers. This deficit can have significant consequences for their intellectual development since memory and learning is solidified during this phase of sleep. REM sleep is also the time when brains process fear and emotions. Insufficient REM sleep can lead to increased anxiety and stress.
- The nightly struggle to get your child to bed and to fall asleep makes bedtime stressful for everyone in the family. If you have more than one child, you may have less time and energy to attend to your other children because you are consumed by the needs of your child with ASD.
- Your evenings turn into a race against the clock to get your child to sleep. Disruptions during the night may interfere with your time with your spouse. The chronic lack of sleep can make you less of the kind of parent and spouse youd like to be.
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How To Help Your Child With Autism Get To Sleep
With the start of another school year around the corner, theres no better time to look at ways to optimize your childs sleep. Sleep is essential to good health, and a lack of sleep can result in problematic behaviors, an inability to concentrate, fatigue, and poor academic performance.
Sleep issues in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder are common and affect between 40 percent and 80 percent. In many cases, problems with the sleep hormone melatonin may play a role. Lifestyle factors, such as medication use, stress, and a poor bedtime routine, may also be contributors.
How Can I Help My Child Sleep Better
Sleep medications should only be used with children as a last resort . There are a number of lifestyle changes and natural sleep aids that can improve sleep time and quality for kids with autism spectrum disorder:
- Avoid giving your child stimulants such as caffeine and sugar before bed.
- Establish a nighttime routine: give your child a bath, read a story, and put them to bed at the same time every night.
- Help your child relax before bed by reading a book, giving a gentle back massage, or turning on soft music.
- Shut down television, video games, and other stimulating activities at least an hour before bedtime.
- To prevent sensory distractions during the night, put heavy curtains on your child’s windows to block out the light, install thick carpeting, and make sure the door doesn’t creak. You can also make sure that the temperature of the room and choice of bedding fit with your childâs sensory needs.
- Ask your pediatrician about giving your child melatonin just before bedtime. This dietary supplement is often used as a sleep aid to help people get over jet lag. It may help normalize sleep-wake cycles in autistic children who have sleeping issues, and research done so far finds that it’s safe and effective.
- Talk to a sleep psychologist about bright-light therapy. Exposing the child to periods of bright light in the morning may help regulate the body’s release of melatonin by helping them to feel more awake during the day.
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Top Tips For Helping Your Autistic Child Sleep Better
For most people, getting the recommended amount of sleep per night is no challenge and the occasional late night rarely has a long-term impact. However, for autistic children and their parents, bedtimes can be difficult and can put a strain on the health and wellbeing of the whole household.
Studies have shown that approximately 80% of autistic children experience sleeping troublesfor a number of reasons such as abnormalities in their melatonin levels, inability to understand social cues and sensory processing issues.
When autistic children get insufficient sleep, they can experience behavioural difficulty, including aggression, lack of concentration and hyperactivity which can negatively impact their time at home, school and social situations.
Whilst your child may have sleeping issues, its vital that you are still able to get a good nights sleep. If you are coping with ongoing sleep deprivation and its causing health implications, it is recommended that you speak to your partner to share the responsibility of managing bedtimes or seek medical advice from your GP.
What can you do to improve your childs sleep?
Whilst every child with autism is different, here are a few top tips that may help alleviate some of the pressure at nighttime:
1. Follow a regular sleep schedule
Autistic children thrive on routines and for them, being able to predict whats coming is especially helpful and can make them feel less anxious when it comes to winding down.
2. Have a bedtime routine
Why Might My Child Struggle To Sleep
Some autistic children will struggle with disturbed sleep.
Reasons for this could include:
- having difficulty settling, winding down and going to sleep
- waking repeatedly during the night, or having difficulty getting back to sleep after waking up to go to the toilet
- increased anxiety or an inability to relax causing insomnia
- social cueing problems, where an autistic person doesnt make the connection between others in the house going to bed and their own need to sleep
- irregular secretion of the sleep hormone melatonin, which regulates sleep patterns, or having atypical circadian rhythms
- neurological conditions such as epilepsy
- sensory differences, such as increased sensitivity to blue light from smart phones, laptops and other screens, or sensitivity to certain sounds or white noise, which may be upsetting or distracting and keep them awake
- problems caused by food allergies, which could cause gastrointestinal issues and discomfort, or increased sensitivity to caffeine or other stimulants, which can disturb sleep
- hypersomnia – sleeping too much. Increased exhaustion could be caused by the additional stress autistic people experience in social situations.
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What Is Autism And How Does It Affect Your Child
Autism is a disorder of the brain and nervous system. The nervous system controls the entire body. So, a child with autism has difficulty with easy tasks. Autism shows up in many ways but there are common features that can be identified. Sleep problems are one of these identifiers.
Autism results in sleep problems. A child suffers from frustration when they dont get enough sleep. Any regular person would have a lower rate of performance without a good nights sleep. The reason why kids with autism have a hard time sleeping is often due to hyperactivity, compulsions, inattention, obsessive rituals, and physical aggressiveness.
These are the behaviors that need attention. Good parenting can reduce such behavior. So, a good sleep will be easier to achieve. However, its easier said than done. Parents around the globe are still looking for a good solution. If youre looking for a good solution, check the link . It will guide you in buying the right product for your child with autism.
Assess Your Existing Bedtime Routine
Establishing a consistent bedtime and bedtime routine can help your child begin to calm himself down. This routine is important for all children, but even more so for children with autism.
A warm aromatherapy bath, short story, and lotion massage can help offer calming sensory input while providing visuals of the routine supports predictability and understanding.
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Ready To Start Fish Oils With Your Autistic Child Heres What You Need To Know
December 13, 2021 by Joya Van Der Laan
Fish oils are one of the most commonly asked about functional medicine interventions for autism treatment. Fish oils can help reduce many symptoms of autism, but there are a few things you should know before you get started on this path with your child.
What Is Fish Oil Used For?
Many autistic children struggle with inflammation. Fish oils, along with diet and other interventions can help with this.
Fish oils can help quell inflammation of the brain which affects our neurotransmitters, mood, sleep, focus, concentration, and irritability. These essential fatty acids do this by building and maintaining healthy cell membranes.
You may remember from high school biology that our cells are made up of a phospholipid bilayer. In this bilayer the tails are drawn toward each other and the heads are turned away, those lipids make up the membrane of our cells.
Embedded within our cells membranes are receptors and channels that are important for hormonal communication. Without enough fatty acids we cant build a healthy cell membrane and those communication exchanges wont happen as fast or as well as they should. Introducing an essential fatty acid like fish oils can help build these membranes.
Are There Any Downsides to Fish Oils?
Are Fish Oils a Cure for Autism?
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