Making Sleep Easier For You And Your Child Witj Autism
Sleep is important for everyone. It is a time to recharge your body and your mind. Many people struggle to get enough sleep and although adults can somehow manage a few days of inconstant sleep routines, studies have show that for children, both late bedtimes and irregular bedtimes affect their mood, behavior and performance.
Here are some very important tips to follow to ensure that your child with autism is getting enough sleep and to make bed time an easy routine for them to follow.
1. Consistency is Key – When you have consistency in your bedtime routine, your child with autism knows what to expect and is not caught off guard when their activities are interrupted. It is important to keep these routines consistent all week long, not just during weekdays, but on weekends as well. Your child on the spectrum doesn’t know the difference and will have to go through a period of adjustment every week if the routine is broken
2. Routines include pre-bedtime activities – When you plan your “bedtime routine” take into account the activities that lead up to actually getting into bed as part of the routine. Start your routine before bed time, brushing teeth, story time etc…whatever it is that you do with you child on the spectrum to get them to go to bed. When you factor all of this into the routine, the activities leading up to getting into bed are consistent daily and will make going to sleep easier. Plan ahead for bedtime. Some children need verbal prompts to start their routines, or reminders that it’s time to get in the bath etc., others will benefit more for visual schedules. Find what works best for your child with autism and stick to it. Reading stories about a bedtime routine can also be helpful for your child on the spectrum. By seeing or hearing that others, including their favorite cartoon, or TV characters have a bedtime routine, they are more likely to want to have one too. There are several children’s books with popular characters that talk about bed time routines, sleeping in your own bed, etc.
3. Be Positive – Make bedtime something to look forward to. Plan pre-bedtime activities that calm your child with autism down, use soft tones in your voice to get their minds ready to relax and no matter how long or tough your day was, stay positive and keep a good attitude around your child at bedtime. This will keep you from forcing them into bed as apposed to guiding them into bed.
4. Follow Through – There will times when you will struggle to keep your routine. There will be times when you child on the spectrum will fight you to go to bed, and there will be times when events or activities run late (especially on weekends) and you will have to plan in advance. If you can bring your child’s PJ’s with you do so. At least changing them into their PJ’s will eliminate one step when you get home. Changing times, routines, and expectations can also lead to unnecessary stress for a child on the spectrum who depend on routines. Setting a schedule and enforcing it may be difficult at first, but following through with the set bedtime and routine is essential for success.
5. Recognize Bedtime Benefits Everyone – It will take time for you and your child to the set bedtime routine into consideration. You will have to get used to the routine just as much as your child does. In the long run a bed time routine does benefit everyone in a positive way. When your child follows a bedtime routine and gets used to the consistency of their routine, they are less resistant to it, which causes less stress on both the child and the parents. When you child on with autism goes to bed at a reasonable hour, you are then able to relax and get things done before you go to bed as well. In the end the benefits of creating ad sticking to a routine defiantly outweigh the struggle to get your child to follow a consistent routine.
Bedtime is difficult for everyone at some point in their lives, but your child on the spectrum will benefit from a consistent bed time routine. Once you and your child on the spectrum get used to following a routine, bed time will become more pleasant and less stressful for everyone.