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5 Tips for an Autistic Child to Get a Better Night's Sleep

Sleeping autistic child

It is no secret that an autistic child has a very hard time sleeping. Parents complain about children staying up for 48 hours, sleeping less than 3 hours a night, falling asleep too late or getting up way too early. Naps can become a struggle and life can get very frustrating, particularly since mommy is not getting much sleep either while the baby is running about.

Sleeping is only one of the issues parents have to deal with when rearing an autistic child. Communication issues are way too common, meltdowns all too frequent, eating habits too strange and sometimes nearly nonexistent, and behavior too disruptive.

Having an autistic child or genetics that increase the risk of birthing an autistic child also pushes you further into the suburbs, to areas that are low in traffic and most definitely low in pollution. After all, pollution is a culprit in increasing risk of autism. Yet with all the problems an autistic child seems to drag into the world with him or her, embryonic selection is probably the worst form of risk control when it comes to the disorder.

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You've tackled your employment problems and believe you have figured out the best career route for your autistic child to take in the future, but right now, he simply refuses to sleep. What can you do?

First, know that it is quite normal for an autistic individual to have a sleeping problem as well. A study in the Journal of Autism Development Disorder confirms that fact after looking at 32 children with Asperger's or High Functioning Autism and comparing with 32 regular children. Children with insomnia had their parents report autistic and emotional symptoms, while teachers reported emotional and hyperactivity symptoms. School-aged children ar not the only ones plagued with insomnia. Adults are not spared the frustrating lack of sleep when it is quite necessary either.

Sleep disorders affect between 40 and 80 percent of children with autism.As such, some tips for helping your autistic baby boy or girl finally get a good night's rest include:

  1. Do not keep a television set or video games in the child`s bedroom
  2. Ensure you keep the same schedule every night. Give the child a bath, brush their teeth, tuck them into bed, read a bedtime story, kiss them and say goodnight before closing the door. This is a simple but effective routine. You can create your own, depending on your home environment.
  3. In a study looking at the doses of Melatonin, it was found that between 1-6 mg of the natural hormone is enough to improve sleep patterns, duration, onset and total hours spent in dream world. Furthermore, improvement in ADHD symptoms, repetitive behaviors and certain obsessive/compulsive traits. Over 65% of parents have reported general improvements.
  4. Keep to healthy sleep practices, including proper exposure to light throughout the day, short naps, adequate exercise and limited caffeine use.
  5. Behavior therapy, including a gradual adjustment of sleep, has been found to be most effective, allowing parents to slowly bring bedtimes to an earlier hour and allow their children to seamlessly adjust to longer periods available for sleep. Combined with established routines, this might just be your ticket.

There are quite a few ways to ensure your autistic child gets a good night's sleep; you just need to find which pattern works best for you.