Having a child with special needs is a boon as well as a challenge. Such children tend to respond differently to usual activities than how other children normally would. Hence, parents and guardians need to put in extra care and effort in order to make their child feel comfortable interacting with people, and also while accomplishing day-to-day mundane activities and tasks that are nothing less than a hurdle to them.
Speaking of autism and the challenges that come with it, the most difficult one is to get your child to fall asleep. Below are given certain tips that may come in handy for parents in order to get their child to hit the bed and doze off.
- Put off screens before bedtime:
Any digital screen like television, laptops, and smartphone must be kept away from your child right before they hit the bed. This is true not just for autistic children, but for everyone. Looking at screens and bright lights during night time tricks our bodies into believing that it is not the time to sleep yet, thereby making it difficult to fall asleep.
- Use melatonin supplements:
For children with autism that get easily jet lagged or disturbed by the most unusual of circumstance, perhaps subjecting them to supplements might help. Melatonin is a hormone that induces sleep in human beings. Melatonin supplements will definitely provide some relief to the child in falling asleep immediately. Remember to not make a habit, and start only after consulting your physician. Use it only until the time your kid develops its own circadian rhythm and has no difficulty falling asleep on their own.
- Soothing and relaxing techniques:
A long head massage, soothing music, or maybe a relaxing bedtime story will be just the thing your child needs in order to fall asleep immediately. A nice calming bedtime story will bring about a sense of relief and soothing effect which will help them fall asleep faster, deeper and longer. A warm shower may also help in some cases. Establish a routine like brushing the teeth and following a schedule before retiring for the day. Make sure your child sleeps at the same spot every night to make matters easier.
- Bright-light therapy:
Bright light therapy is when you expose your child to bright light in the morning in order to set the body’s circadian rhythm straight. This way, when night falls, your child’s body will know that now is the time to produce melatonin and induce sleep. When this becomes a habit, your kid will neither have any trouble falling asleep at night nor while waking up at the right time in the morning.
- Physical customisations:
Use curtains for your kid’s bedroom to block out any light seeping its way in during night time. Also, avoid any unnecessary distractions like loud music near your kid’s sleeping area. Make sure there’s proper insulation for the room and absolutely no disturbance. Take care of your child’s bedding and fitting, and adjust the room temperature accordingly to have your child sleep well every night.
Consuming too much sugar, caffeinated drinks, or chocolate may cause your special kid, and hence you, a hard time falling asleep at night. Just remember to not have your child consume these foodstuffs as they near their bedtime. You can make it a point to have them eat these stuff during the day, but not when the sun goes down. Stay away from complex carbs since they also take a long time to digest making your kid feel full and energetic for long.
The tricks mentioned above in this article are generic and work perfectly well with most autistic children. But as is true, different children respond differently to the same circumstance, you may have to alter these methods as per the requirement of your child.
Maybe your kid will embrace a certain change well, but not as well as they may embrace certain other changes. Special or normal, parents need to work their way around their kids. Parents of autistic children definitely need to pitch in more efforts, but your child will respond well soon enough.