Now, while it can seem pretty obvious that Children with Autism will have sleeping difficulties, you can never be 100% sure they are connected. It is important to remember that ASD is a spectrum and each child on the spectrum always will always have unique circumstances.
That means parents of children with Autism should follow a little process that helps them to better understand how their children have been approaching sleep. It will help them identify the truly helpful solutions and avoid making stressful mistakes.
The following steps make for a very good start:
Step 1: Write down your own observations.
One common mistake parents when trying to address any issue with their child is with a reactive approach. That is, they only opt for short-term solutions for every tiny issue that occurs as it happens.
A good way to avoid this is by first recording all your observations about your children’s sleeping problems before taking any further course of action. Do they have any unusual sleeping positions? Does your child snore or create strange noises when they finally sleep?
Taking note of these helps not just you but also when you move on to consult a medical professional for a diagnosis.
Step 2: Get a checklist of professionals for diagnosis.
As always, it is important to have a proper diagnosis from certified professionals. These include both your child’s doctor and their psychologist.
Children with Autism can still have any number of health reasons that keep them up at night and their condition only amplifies their struggles. By having a checklist of professionals to give proper diagnosis, you will have a wider perspective that will put ASD within the right context among your child’s other issues.
Step 3: Have a test at a sleep lab.
A good way to follow-up on diagnosis is to visit a sleep clinic. There you can schedule for what is called a sleep study, where doctors can observe your child more closely and point out other issues more thoroughly.
Naturally though, some children with ASD might react negatively to this approach so make sure to discuss this with them or even look for alternatives with their doctor.
Step 4: Incorporate light therapy in the child’s routine.
It is good to remember that many sleeping problems are tied to bad circadian rhythms, which is the natural rhythm that instinctively wakes the body during the day. It does this through the use of melatonin.
Light therapy uses artificial light sources in order to stimulate melatonin levels and bring a child’s circadian rhythm to a more normalised pace. It doesn’t necessarily require much as long as you have lights that can accurately simulate natural sunlight. It is usually done for only 30 minutes in the morning as that is the best time for boosting melatonin production.
Consider consulting with your doctor on any tools you can use to perform this type of therapy at home.
After doing these steps, you will be equipped with more support and information to take the necessary changes in your house as well as your lifestyle. That way, not only are you doing a commendable job of caring for your child’s special needs, you now have a better idea of what those needs are!
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