Bedtime is difficult for virtually every child. Most children will become upset and some will protest or create distractions justso they don’t have to go to bed. A routine that is positive and consistent can make bedtime more pleasant and less stressful for everyone. Studies have shown both late bedtimes and irregular bedtimes affect children’s behavior at home, in school and in the community. Many children, especially those on the spectrum, need help maintaining a regular schedule and a regular bedtime routine.
Beautiful Minds Center has come up with some ways that can help your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, maintain a consistent bedtime routine.
1. Be Consistent – setting a time, creating a bedtime routine and sticking to it every day is the most important part of keep a consistent bedtime routine. When your child on the spectrum knows bedtime is at 8:00 every night they can prepare for it by allotting extra time to wind down from their day. The consistency in your child’s bedtime routine will also ensure they are well rested and ready to take on a brand-new day.
2. Plan – Plan ahead for bedtime. Sometimes it can take your child, who has been diagnosed with autism some time to get ready for bed. Give your child time to get into their pajamas, brush their teeth, and read bedtime stories, if children on the spectrum use a visual schedule, include all of the activities leading up to bedtime in the schedule. Some children, who have been diagnosed with autism, may need a reminder before they start their bedtime routine. Setting a timer and preparing your child on the spectrum for transitioning from day to night can also be helpful for reviewing expectations.
3. Make Bedtime Something to Look Forward To –Create a routine that includes quiet and enjoyable activities for your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, and use this as a time to devote your attention fully to your son or daughter. Reading stories and singing songs are wonderful ways to help your child relax before they go to bed.
4. Follow Through –Planning your daily activities in advance and making sure your home before your child’s bedtime ensures your child on the spectrum has consistency and knows what to expect. Changing your child’s bedtime, regular daily routines, and expectations can lead to unnecessary stress.
Everyone benefits from a consistent and positive bedtime routine! Research has shown that a consistent sleep schedule benefits all family members. When children follow a bedtime routine without protest it is less stressful for the entire family.