Monthly Archives: May 2017

Help Your Child With Autism Sleep Better

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Sleep or lack of sleep can be a major issue for children who have been diagnoised with autism. Lack of sleep can . Lack of sleep can make behavioral issues worse for a child that is on the spectrum. This can cause your child to struggle in school, at home and in the comminuty.
Here are some common sleep issues in children who have been diagnoised with autism:

· Insamnia
· Difficulty staying asleep throughout the night
· Early morning waking
· Short-duration sleeping
· Sleep fragmentation, characterized by erratic sleep patterns throughout the night
· Hyperarousal, or heightened anxiety around bedtime
· Excessive daytime sleepiness
Insomnia is the most commonly reported sleep disorder among children on the spectrum. Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling and/or remaining asleep on a regular basis. In addition, many children with autism might suffer from frequent nightmares, night terrors and possibly even bed wetting. Since your child with autism may have an inablity to express their fears and discomforts, these fears may come out while they are asleep.
Some children have a hard time staying asleep thoughout the night and will wake up in the middle of the night to engage in inapprorate play. It is important to direct your child back to their bed, if this occurs and to make sure they understand that night time is a time for sleep, not play.
Some treatment options for sleep disorders in children with autism spectrum disorder are:
Cognitive behavioral therapy: This has proven fairly effective in alleviating sleep disorder symptoms for children on the spectrum. It is designed to improve sleep by educating your child about the science of sleep and helping them find ways to improve their nightly habits.
It is important to set up a bed time schedule for your child with autism and to follow it nightly in order to get your child used to this new routine. This will elevate anxiety because they will learn the patterns of their routine and after some time, will learn to anticipate what comes next.
A healthy bedtime schedule might consist of the following:

· Putting on pajamas
· Brushing teeth
· Using the toilet
· Washing hands
· Getting in bed
· Reading a book (or being read to)
· Shutting off the light

Some additional methods to help your child with autism improve their sleep are:

· Create a visual schedule with pictures.
· Keep the bedtime routine consistant.
· Limit TV, video games, etc towards the end of the night to allow for a more relaxed environment.
· Read stories or engage in relaxing activities a minimum of 30 minutes before bed time.
· Provide positive reinforcement whenever your child follows the schedule correctly.

Working with your child that has been diagnoised with autism on a bedtime routine will benefit everyone at home and elevate a lot of nightly stresses on both the child and the parents. It is best to create a schedule that works well for your family as a whole and to try to stick to dispite the many distractions that life throws our way.

Help Your Child Transition To A Summer Schedule

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Children who have been diagnosed with autism often have a hard time with routine changes and the beginning of summer break can be difficult for them. Help your child on the spectrum prepare for this transition by following these few steps:
1. Give Them Notice – When you prepare your child with autism for a change in routine in advance, it gives them time to process the end of the school year and the beginning of summer break. Find out what your child’s teacher is doing to countdown to summer break and do the same thing at home to constantly remind them that a change in their routine is approaching. Discuss summer break with your child on the spectrum, like when it beings, when it ends and what they wil be doing in time times that school is closed.

2. School Friends should also be Summer Friends – Try to find ways for your child on the spectrum to connect with their friends from school over the summer. Plan play dates, arrange gatherings etc. It is also great to pull out the class picture during break and spend time with your child with autism talking about their friends and showing them pictures so they can remember the good times they had while they are away from school.

3. Structure is Still Important – Even though your child is out of school doesn’t mean their days should not be somewhat structured. The school day provides a significant amount of structure for your child, so their time at home, in camp, or on vacation should also provide this type of structure. Have routine, set times for waking up, going to bed, eating, and other activities so your child with autism knows what to expect from their days. Make a calendar or picture schedule showing different activities on different days and times so your child can see what they have planned for the week.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask the Teacher – If you have concerns about your child’s transition from school to summer, ask their teacher for suggestions. Their teacher works with your child daily and may have ideas for your child’s needs or activities your child with autism would enjoy.
Taking the time to prepare your child on the spectrum for summer break will give them something new to look forward to and will allow them the time they need to ease their stress and anxiety when it comes to schedule changes.

Creating A Schedule For Your Child With Autism

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When your child in the spectrum follows a daily schedule and knows what to expect throughout not just their day, but their week and even sometimes their money, it will help make transitions and activities easier and less stressful.

Here are some great benefits to putting your child with autism on a consistent schedule:

1. List Activities throughout the day – Make a list of the activities you would you’re your child on the spectrum to accomplish throughout their day. Place them by order of necessity and then importance and map out approximately how long each activity will take. You can start your list as early as waking up in the morning, getting dressed, brushing teeth etc. and finish as late as going to bed at night. Then factor everything they do in their day and fill it in the rest of their day. When accounting for activities be sure to stagger breaks or fun activities into the day, and also show them when they have completed an activity by crossing it off their schedule.

2. Create a Format for Your Schedule – Choose a schedule format that your child with autism will relate to of have fun with. If they like lists, create a schedule that looks like a list. IF they are more visual, create a schedule that has images on it. Pictures or drawings can also be helpful for your child if they are not able to read yet.

3. Hang the Schedule where they can see it – Put the schedule in a place where your child on the spectrum can easily access it. Whether they are looking up to see what is next, or it is their job to cross of what is already been completed. The more visible the schedule is, the less guessing your child with autism will have to do.

4. Create a Schedule that offers them Choices – Everyone likes opportunities to make their own discussions. Your child on the spectrum is not different. Find opportunities for him or her to choose what they want to do and put the option into their schedule. This option is best used for fun activities, etc.

5. Planning is Never Perfect!- Remind your child that the times you have written down (unless it’s school hours, dinner time, or times revolving planed events ; are estimated and can shift a little. Remind them constantly that although the schedule is important, it is made as a guideline and has the possibility of changing once in a while.

Schedules create a sense of consistency and security in a child who has been diagnosed with autism. When your child knows what activities are part of their day, transitions can become easier and less stressful.