Getting a child to fall asleep for a full night’s rest can be difficult. If your child is autistic, it can feel like a full time job. With an estimated 2.3 percent of children having autism, there is a growing number of parents that are worrying about how to get their kids to bed every night. If you are one of these parents, here are some tips on how to get better sleep for your autistic child.
5. Quiet TIme
In the hour or two that leads up to bedtime, you’ll want to make sure that there’s a quiet period to help your child adjust. While there are many people that can simply watch television or look at their phone up until the minute that they go to sleep, that’s typically not true for autistic children. Try to set screen time to an absolute minimum before bed, and eliminate a lot of the noise in the house. This could include air conditioning/heating running at high volumes or music that you’re playing while doing the evening chores.
4. Use the Right Fabric
It might be an afterthought for a lot of people, but the type of fabric that you’re using in bed can be very important. For autistic children, it’s paramount. You don’t want to use fabric in clothing or bedding that contains a lot of zippers or tags as they can be distracting and cause unrest. There isn’t one particular fabric that’s right for everyone, so try to find the right fit for your child. This could even be in the form of a stuffed animal that helps to comfort your child and get them to sleep.
3. Right Routine
Routine is one of the biggest aspects of helping someone with autism no matter their age. Changing anything on the schedule can lead to a streak of unrest, so you’ll want to try to adhere to a sleep schedule as strictly as possible. The routine should be short for a young child, about 15 minutes or so, and at the same time each night. Try to make a visual guide on the nighttime routine that shows brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, reading a story, etc. Visual guides combined with a schedule are almost guaranteed success.
2. Weighted Blanket
In recent years, there has been a focus on the benefits of weighted blankets for those with autism. While extensive studies have had mixed results, it could be a tool you’ll want to try if your child is having trouble falling and staying asleep. You can try out a few different weighted blankets, making sure that you find one that’s not too heavy or too light. It won’t be the cheapest option, but if you find one that works, it will be worth every penny.
1. Physical Activity During the Day
Just like you would with any child, you’ll want to make sure that your child is getting enough physical activity throughout the day so that they can rest at night. For autistic children, the amount of energy at night can prevent them from getting any sleep at all. This doesn’t mean that you should have your child run a marathon every day, but they should be getting about 30-60 minutes of outdoor physical activity.