Safety + Sensory Canopy
Have confidence that your loved one is safe with the mesh and fabric canopy. Each door has a safety pocket + clasp that hide and secure the interior zipper to prevent wandering or falls and ensure a safe sleep.The breathable canopy blocks light, muffles sound, and creates a soothing cocoon, free from distraction.The walls are tensioned and separated from the frame to provide padded protection while stimming or having a meltdown.
Ending Words: What Parents Should Avoid Doing
Teaching children with autism to sleep alone takes time. Parents shouldn’t expect positive results to emerge within 1 week or 2 weeks. The tips in this article serve as the easiest and most efficient methods. Try each tip but if you dont see the progress we can advise looking for professional help.
How Much Should Kids With Autism Sleep
Good sleep is as essential for keeping all kids healthy. Its needed for development, functioning, emotional and behavior regulation, immune health, and more. Heres how much sleep children should get each night:
- Newborns: 16 to 17 hours, including naps
- Age 4 to 12 months: 12 to 16 hours, including naps
- Age 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours, including naps
- Age 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours, including naps
- Age 6 to 12 years: 9 to 12 hours
- Age 13 to 18 years: 8 to 10 hours
If your child doesnt regularly sleep within the ranges above, has difficulty falling asleep, or wakes up repeatedly throughout the night, its a good idea to consult your childs pediatrician.
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Sleep Problems In Adults With Autism
We live in a world where people praise themselves for getting less sleep and not giving their brains time to reset.
What about adults with autism: do they struggle with sleep problems as much as children with ASD do? A large study by Kaiser Permanent Northern California found both good news and bad news on this topic. Adults with autism have fewer sleep problems than have been reported in children. Only about one in five adults with ASD has a diagnosed sleep disorder, including sleep apnea. The bad news? That’s still twice as high as the rate of sleep disorders in adults who don’t have autism.15 Unlike the SSC study, which relied on parent reports, the Kaiser Permanente study examined sleep problems documented in patient medical records. Self-reports of sleep problems could be different.
Dr. Veatch said she wants to increase awareness of the importance of sleep, so researchers can help find better treatments for sleep disorders. Many people, including scientists, don’t fully appreciate how important sleep is for optimal health, she said. “We live in a world where people praise themselves for getting less sleep and not giving their brains time to reset,” she said. Not so with parents of children with autism, she said. “I feel parents know that sleep is an issue.” She thanked parents in the SSC for their contributions to sleep research.
- Webinar on Sleep Challenges in Autism with Dr. Beth Malow
Autism In Children And Sleep
1. What is known?
From an early age, children on the autism spectrum are at higher risk of poor sleep than typically developing children. Studies suggest that up to 80% of autistic children may have sleep difficulties at some time in childhood. For many children, these sleep problems can be chronic. For children on the autism spectrum, sleep problems typically begin to occur from around 30 months of age. Their most common problems are less total time asleep and increased time to settle to sleep. These are similar problems reported by parents of typically developing children. .
2. Difficulty settling to sleep
This may be due to an unmet need to follow routines need for special toys, objects, bed-clothes or bedding refusal to fall asleep in own bed needing a parent present noise or light or fears, worries and anxiety. The presence of a TV, tablet or phone in the room is also disruptive. Ideally children should take no more than 20-30 minutes to fall asleep. Settling difficulties are the most common and consistent sleep problem that is reported.
3. Night waking, often for long periods
4. Shortened sleep
5. Impact of poor sleep
Children with poor sleep often have more daytime behaviour problems, poorer attention or are more anxious. Good sleep is also important for memory and learning.
6. What can I do?
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Autism And Sleep Problems
If your child wont sleep alone, it can take a toll on your entire family. Applied Behavior Analysis therapy can help individuals with autism gain important new skills, like falling asleep in their own bed. If your child is experiencing sleep issues, they may need an ABA assessment to determine the best solution. However, there are a few things you can try to help your child fall asleep on their own.
Reduce Light Exposure In The Bedroom
Visual stimuli can disturb your child and make it difficult to fall asleep. Keeping their bedroom dark will help limit visual stimulation and encourage the production of melatonin, a neurohormone that promotes sleep. Switch to black-out curtains if there are streetlights, traffic lights, or other outdoor light sources near your childs bedroom windows.
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Teach The Parents Well:
The Tylers learned about Malows newest sleep education study when they spotted a flyer in their pediatricians office early this year. They called and were connected with Susan Masie, an occupational therapist who oversees a group practice in Franklin, Tennessee. Masie is one of six therapists in the greater Nashville area a mix of occupational, speech and behavioral therapists and a nurse trained by Malows team to deliver the same program tested in the 2014 study. The Tylers participated in the trial, which aims to ultimately include 30 families, to see whether the approach works in a real-world setting.
The Tylers completed a set of questionnaires about Jaxons sleep habits and their primary concerns. Then came the most exciting part for Jaxon: He got to wear the watch-like actigraphy device to provide two weeks of baseline data on his sleep patterns. They warned us he wasnt going to want to take it off, his mother says.
Quiet time: Jaxon avoids stimulating activities half an hour before bed.
To keep Jaxon from bothering his parents in the wee hours of the morning, Masie introduced another visual: a sign on his parents bedroom door showing a sleeping moon wearing a nightcap. Jaxon was not to knock while the sign was up.
“It may very well be that if the child is sleeping better, going to do better in terms of learning and behavior.” Beth Malow
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Moving Away From Your Child
When your child is used to falling asleep without your touch, move your bed or chair a short distance from your child . Stay in your place until your child falls asleep. In the next period of 1-3 weeks, increase this distance gradually until you reach the door of your childs room and then out of the room.
What Are The Most Common Sleep Problems For Kids With Autism
Allergies, sensory issues, and all sorts of things can cause your autistic kid to be up more than his or her peers. Autistic children tend to have insomnia . It takes them approximately 11 minutes longer than the general population to fall asleep.
Thats not all most wake up during the night mutiple times . Some autistic children have sleep apnea, a condition that affects their breathing severally during the night. Autistic kids also spend 15 percent of their sleeping time in REM stage, unlike neurotypical kids that spend almost 23 percent of their nightly rest in this stage. REM stage is vital for learning and retaining memory.
Other common sleep issues include problematic sleep routines, early morning wakes and short sleep duration.
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Why Is This A Problem
We all wake up every now and then during our sleepbrief awakenings of a few seconds. If nothing bothers us, we immediately fall asleep again and usually dont remember we woke up. Children who are not used to set themselves to sleep are dependent on their regular sleep habits and therefore need us to fall back asleep when they wake up in the middle of the night. To help them- We need to help them gradually change their habits and teach them to set themselves to sleep independently.
Before we start going into details, we want to start by saying that we know these processes can be challenging. Many children, and especially autistic children, dont like changes. A change in their sleep habits may cause distress at the beginning. We want to reassure you that the strategies we are offering are thoroughly researched, and the evidence shows that they are safe. It is possible to find a balance between meeting your childs need for comfort and sleep, as well as your own need for rest. Your rest is essential. It gives you the physical and mental strength to take care of your child.
There are many approaches to help your child sleep, and you may have to try a few different approaches to work out the best solution for your family. Today, we will talk about one approach, called: Camping Out.
Create Bedtime Passes & Rewards
Your child may need some motivation to sleep in their own room. To encourage this and ease their anxiety, create bedtime passes. Your child can use the pass when they need an extra visit from you. Reassure your child that theyll get a new pass each night, but if they can get through the night without using the pass, theyll earn a reward, like a special activity.
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Theres A Difference Between Forcing Behaviors And Encouraging Independence
Ive learned from experience that trying to force independence is counterintuitive, whether or not your child is autistic.
When we push a child, especially one prone to anxiety and rigidity, their natural instinct is to dig their heels in and hold on tighter.
When we force a child to face their fears, and I mean screaming-on-the-floor petrified, like Whitney Ellenby, the mother who wanted her autistic son to see Elmo, we arent actually helping them.
If I was forced into a room full of spiders, I would probably be able to detach from my brain at some point to cope after about 40 hours of screaming. That doesnt mean I had some kind of breakthrough or success in facing my fears.
I also assume Id store those traumas and theyd invariably be triggered later in my life.
Of course, pushing independence isnt always as extreme as the Elmo scenario or a room full of spiders. All of this pushing falls on a spectrum ranging from encouraging a hesitant child to physically forcing them into a scenario that has their brain screaming danger.
When we let our children get comfortable at their own pace and they finally take that step of their own volition, true confidence and security grows.
That said, I understand where the Elmo mom was coming from. We know our kids would enjoy whatever activity if they would just try it.
We want them to feel joy. We want them to be brave and full of confidence. We want them to fit in because we know what rejection feels like.
What Are Preferred Methods For Helping Your Child With Sleep
Create a sleep schedule
As a general rule sleeping is best done when it is consistent and appropriate. The best sleep your child will get is when they have a regular pattern in place.
To understand your child’s sleep schedule you need to know how much sleep they need for their age. Your child might need up to 11 hours of sleep daily. Because of this, you will want to set the time they go to sleep early so they can wake up at an appropriate time.
Creating the sleep schedule is more than just knowing the times. You need to make sure your child is ready for sleep by the time they get to bed. Make sure you plan the day out for your child so they are tired at the correct time.
Routine and patterns
Routine is key for getting your child to have a healthy amount of sleep. Your child will benefit from more sleep if they are used to the cycle and day-to-day activities.
You should have in place a bedtime routine that you follow daily so your child is prepared to go to sleep.
Autistic children need extra support when going to sleep so it is best. Just before bed, you will want to start some soothing activities. For example
Reading bedtime stories
Visual clues to show them it’s bedtime
Soft sounds – whale noises, cars driving, soft breathing
Aromatherapy – Relaxing smells
Again its the repeated practice of doing this every night that will help your child understand the correct and appropriate times to sleep.
Be active during the daytime
What to avoid before bedtime
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What Kind Of Effects Do Sleep Problems Have
Not getting a good night’s sleep can have a serious impact on a child’s life and overall health. Research has shown that, in children with autism, there is a connection between lack of sleep and the following characteristics:
- Poor learning and cognitive performance
If your child isn’t sleeping, there’s a good chance you aren’t, either. One study showed that the parents of children with autism sleep less, have poorer sleep quality, and wake up earlier than parents of children without autism.
How Do I Know Whether My Child Has A Sleep Disorder
Every child needs a slightly different amount of sleep. In general, these are the amounts of sleep children require, by age:
- Ages 1-3: 12-14 hours of sleep per day
- Ages 3-6: 10-12 hours of sleep per day
- Ages 7-12: 10-11 hours of sleep per day
If your child regularly has difficulty falling asleep or wakes up repeatedly throughout the night, it might be a sign of a sleep problem. To know for sure, make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician. The doctor may refer you to a sleep specialist or an ear, nose and throat doctor.
It can help to keep a sleep diary for a week to track how much and when your child is sleeping. You may include any snoring, changes in breathing patterns, unusual movements, or difficulty breathing. It may help to write down observations about your child’s behavior the following day. You can share this diary with your child’s doctor and any specialist involved in treatment.
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Causes Of Sleep Issues In Autism
As with so many symptoms of autism, the causes of sleeplessness are not well understood. A few possible theories include:
- Genetics: The genetic causes of autism itself may have some impact on the ability of people with autism to fall asleep, stay asleep, and awake refreshed.
- Sensory issues: Most people with autism are hyper-responsive to sensory input perhaps they have a harder time sleeping because they can’t easily block out noises and sensations that disturb their rest.
- Lack of melatonin: Some studies suggest that people with autism produce less melatonin at night than do neurotypical people.
- Physical or mental illness: In addition to sleep-related challenges, many people with autism have other physical and mental illnesses that may impact sleep sleep apnea, acid reflux, seizure disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, ADHD, and anxiety can all make it harder to sleep.
In addition to these possible causes, people with autism may also find it harder to just “let go” of the day’s cares and interests.
Whats The Link Between Autism And Sleep Issues
Restful slumber is critical for helping children grow and develop. As mentioned above, over half of the kids with autism have trouble falling and staying asleep, and some studies suggest that the figure may go beyond 80 percent. For normal, healthy children, the figures range from a mere 10-16 percent. This comparison shows that there is a strong correlation between autism and sleep problems in children.
Why children with autism struggle with sleep issues is an ongoing discussion, studies continue to be carried out on the matter. Most of the studies point out that these specific challenges converge from various biological directions, just like autism itself. Various medical problems affecting children on the spectrum may play a role. Keep reading to understand how.
Children with autism tend to suffer from sleep challenges for a number of reasons. There is mounting evidence that the behaviors exhibited by autistic children are the very reasons that affect their sleep patterns. These behaviors can include compulsions, hyperactivity, obsessive rituals, inattention and physical aggressiveness. Lack of enough sleep can amplify autism features. Its almost like a vicious cycle.
The researchers also linked sleep disturbance to more instances of attention deficit disorder, challenging behavior, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. Unfortunately, autism sleep problems dont disappear as your kid grows up, but they may improve.
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