As a parent, your number one concern will be to make sure your child is getting plenty of sleep each night. If you have a child who is on the autistic spectrum, they may experience difficulties when it comes to falling and staying asleep. If your child becomes restless and unsettled, they may act out and require extra attention, so if you are facing these kinds of challenges, here are a few tips on how to help your loved one get a good night’s sleep.
Regular Bedtime Routine
Establishing a regular bedtime routine is helpful for anyone, whether they have autism or not. Creating a routine helps the body to know that it is time to hit the hay, and it can be soothing for those who have difficulty getting to sleep. Most importantly, you need to take into account that when setting a ritual, it needs to be adhered to and followed in a specific order. To execute this correctly, you may want to consider making a chart with pictures that your child can follow, which can give them a sense of accomplishment.
Eliminate Screen Time
Whether you love it or loathe it, most kids love nothing more than to watch endless hours of TV, or to surf the internet on a tablet. However, being exposed to a screen just before bedtime can keep your child’s mind active and occupied, making it more difficult to drift off. If your child has autism, they may not understand at first why you’re taking their devices away, which is why it’s crucial that you create a routine so they can have some control.
Avoid Rowdy Play
When bedtime comes into play, your child should be relaxing and chilling out, rather than getting riled up. While it may be fun to play some games with your child before bed, it’s likely that this will have a negative impact on how much sleep they get per night. Playful activities are highly recommended, but it’s best to do them in the daytime only. Rather than rowdy play, why not plan out activities that are peaceful and quiet? Whether it’s by handing them a coloring book, or reading a bedtime story, there are lots of soothing and calm activities that you can try out to help prepare your little one for bed.
Another great way to help your autistic child get a better night’s sleep is through pressure touch. Pressure touch can be another great way to help your child get plenty of sleep. It can benefit those who have high levels of anxiety too, making it easier for your child to get some sleep. To practice this effectively, it’s advised to give a gentle massage to your child, using downward strokes. Also, pressure touch improves your child’s ability to cope with stress and day to day worries in life, giving them more control.
Bath or Shower
Before your child goes to bed, making sure they have a bath or shower can aid sleep and help them wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead. Baths and showers are known to be soothing and calming for both adults and children. Making sure your child is calm and relaxed is key, so having a bath or shower may be all it takes to help your little one drift off.
Supplements and Vitamins
If any of the suggestions listed aren’t working, you may want to look at sleep supplements for autism. However, with so many options regarding supplements for autism spectrum disorder, it is best to use a trusted source like Autism Parenting Magazine to guide you in the right direction. They have broken down the best supplements for autism, and which ones have been recommended by doctors to help aid sleep. As well as this, their site is a useful resource for coping mechanisms and how to deal with things like managing behavioral issues and bedtime meltdowns.
Relaxing Bedroom Environment
Surrounding your child with all the things they love can make a big difference and help when it comes to getting enough sleep. Whether it’s by giving your child a soft blanket, a glowing nightlight, or their favorite stuffed toy. All of these things can help an autistic child fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. There are other strategies that you can take too. Some such as purchasing a white noise machine which is known to help improve sleep quality.
In the end, getting a child to fall and stay asleep can be challenging, regardless of whether they are on the autistic spectrum or not. While most children will respond well to modifications, this may not be the case for a child who has autism. Putting any of the tips listed above into practice may be helpful for your child and ensure that both you and your child can get some much-needed sleep.