HELP FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH ASPERGER'S & HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM

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Sleep Problems in Aspergers Children

"I need suggestions on how to help my child fall asleep -- and stay asleep! It takes him a long time to settle down, and even when he finally gets to sleep, it's not long before he wakes up -- and we start the whole process all over again."

Many children with Aspergers and High Functioning Autism have problems sleeping through the night, or getting to sleep. This is due in large part to sensory issues.

Sensory dysfunction is typically an issue for Aspergers children. Many parents are forced to try medications, or natural supplements (e.g., melatonin) to try to regulate sleep patterns. These may be beneficial.

Using sensory integration therapy can also be helpful so that the child can learn to regulate his or her activity level.

The idea behind sensory integration therapy is that it is possible to "rewire" the brain of an Aspergers child with sensory processing difficulties. Practitioners of sensory integration therapy are usually occupational therapists. Their focus is on the following systems:
  • proprioceptive (i.e., helping the child work on his ability to manage his body more appropriately; for example, to run and jump when it's time to run and jump, to sit and focus when it's time to sit and focus, etc.)
  • tactile (i.e., normalizing the child’s reactions to touch)
  • vestibular (i.e., helping the child to become better aware of his body in space)

A trained sensory integration therapist evaluates the child for sensory defensiveness, hypersensitivity, and sensory cravings, using several different scoring techniques. Some of the standard tests include:
  • The PEERAMID for ages 6-14 years
  • The Bruininks Osteretsky Test of Motor Proficiency for ages 5-15 years
  • Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests (SIPT) for kids between the ages of 4 to 8 years, 11 months
  • The Test of Sensory Integration for kids between the ages 3 to 5 years (TSI)

Depending upon the needs of the child, the therapist may use various techniques such as:
  • brushing and joint compression
  • deep pressure therapy, which may include squeezing, rolling, etc.
  • gross motor play such as wall climbing, balance beam, etc.
  • jumping on a mini or full-sized trampoline 
  • playing with a toy that vibrates, is squeezable, etc. 
  • swinging

Sensory integration therapists also may develop a sensory "diet," which may include a variety motor activities (e.g., spinning, bouncing, swinging, squeezing balls or silly putty, etc.), as well as therapist-provided interventions such as brushing and compressing arms and legs. The idea is that this "diet" will be provided throughout the day, whether by trained therapists, by the child’s teacher, or by the child’s parent. 

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook 


 COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... 1 mg of melatonin, has had this amt for 2 years
•    Anonymous said... A friend of mine uses melatonin, for her son and has done for few years now. They use a low dose and only on school nights, never in holidays or fri or sat night. tThis is a godsend for them as he was only sleeping a couple of hours a night.
•    Anonymous said... A good routine, dont rush them and my best friend Melatonin. Its been shown that asd kids produce much less melatonin than their peers. Hideously expensive here in the uk and hard to get in the uk prescription only £200+ for a months supply but over the counter in the usa for $15 three months worth. Go figure
•    Anonymous said... Chamomile tea, warm bath, aromatherapy, benadryl......any combination of the above.
•    Anonymous said... I have a routine. Often I will lie down with her for1-5 mins which we agree on beforehand and we have a music box which seems to soothe her. Took a long time to get this routine. Initially I was just glad to get her out of my bed now its much easier
•    Anonymous said... I would like to offer a suggestion. I have a dear friend who has a 11 yr old Aspbergers son, and I will link you to her page, please read her testimony titled "God told me to call you" and see what is working for them after a VERY long battle.
•    Anonymous said... I'm a life coach specializing in parenting but I also have kids w aspergers. How old is your child? It may be that you need a change in the daily routine.
•    Anonymous said... melatonin has been a life-saver for us! Talk with your dr. but there's usually no issues whatsoever. My aspie/severe SPD kiddo was the same way...up and down all night long. We started him on 3 mgs and that would help him drift off but he kept waking all night still. So we upped to dose to 6 mgs and that has worked awesome! Finally we can ALL get some rest!!
•    Anonymous said... melatonin is your friend
•    Anonymous said... Melatonin no side effects, safe. We noticed a huge difference in daytime behavior right away as well, a good nights rest is amazing.
•    Anonymous said... My aspie takes medications. He struggled with sleeping for awhile, but now with meds he sleeps better and is less irritable.
•    Anonymous said... My son will sit in the bathroom until he is calmed down enough to go to sleep. Sometimes it's an hour.
•    Anonymous said... Not enough light, too much light? Room to noisy, room too quiet? Hot and sweaty then gets cold when asleep? Needs something over his head Scared of spiders / monsters / shadows Lots and lots of things you can try, keep melatonin as a last resort
•    Anonymous said... our 5 yr old has same problem. In the beginning, we avoided medication. We tried aromatherapy, soothing bath + massage, classical music, etc., but nothing worked. He would sleep for 45 min., then jump to his feet in bed while screaming scared out of his mind. This would happen 2-3 times every night. After 1 yr. of minimal sleep, we had our son's Pediatric Behavioral Specialist prescribe him medication to aide in his sleep & help w/anxiety. He put him on Guanfacine 1/2 tablet at night. It also helps calm him due to severe anxiety. He's been on it for 2 yrs & it has done wonders for him. He's never had any side-effects from this medicine. Good luck in finding the best method for your child. I'll be praying for your son & your family!
•    Anonymous said... Physical activity helps, particularly yoga and gardening. As a last resort use melatonin and of course cannabidiol.
•    Anonymous said... Routine . Routine . Routine . Then he will still wake up tho about every few hours . My son is 13 . At age four we started clondine . Till he was about 7 then seroquel for a year . Off and on meletonin . It's not good for all night staying asleep . We tried trazadone also . Actually to get him to naturally stay asleep will take him getting older . My son at 13 can and will go to bed, early actually, and stay asleep with usually nothing . Ambilify in morning now and orap at night . But because he active and older its much much better . No problems with sleep at this time ! Good luck , just be patient and get help so YOU can get rest ! I'm catching up on mine during these "slow" years lol things have leveled out for now , as much as they can anyways . Never a dull moment that's for sure !
•    Anonymous said... Squirt of liquid melatonin
•    Anonymous said... We have used clonidine for the last 4 years. It has made a world of difference in our family. We have not noticed any negative side effects.
•    Anonymous said... We start our bedtime ritual an hour early. It includes bathroom, changing clothes, brushing teeth, etc. in the same sequence every night (the process is prompted by "ten minutes to bedtime.....5 minutes to bedtime....."). All of this is navigated/ motivated by reward. For us it is a book of his choosing and prayers from mom and dad. If he chooses to be uncooperative or takes too long playing in the bathroom sink, he is reminded he may be losing his book time. Also, we have always told him that he didn't have to go right to sleep if he is not tired, but he did have to stay in his bed and rest. He always goes to sleep within a reasonable time.
•    Anonymous said... We use a kids hypnosis cd on repeat and Relax & Sleep aid from the dollar tree. It has Melatonin in it. But I heard bad things about melatonin in larger quantities. Always research meds even the herbal ones
•    Anonymous said... We use melatonin and 5htp but it causes him to have accidents at night.
•    Anonymous said... we use melatonin and a weighted blanket, plus some occ therapy before bed for anxiety control, deep breathing exercises seem to help with my little one
•    Anonymous said... YES!!!! Melatonin! I didn't believe it would work but is does so very well!!!! Talk to your dr. and give it a try.
•    Anonymous said... Our doctor put our son on trazidone. He would fall asleep but not stay that way. I would find him up playing on his tablet or sleep walking. The meds help him stay asleep and we see such a HUGE difference in his behavior after a good sleep
•    Anonymous said... We used melatonin for almost a year but he started waking up and it became ineffective. So we brain stormed, as usual, and now we do our best to get some of his energy out. We do stretches. We put him in a long shower or bath depending on how he is feeling. I rub lavender baby oil on his legs and feet and neck. It has seemed to be more effective.
•    Anonymous said... We used to have the same issue. Still do from time to time but it's rare now. Our Dr.told.US to try melatonin . It's natural over over the counter. Found with vitamins and supplements. It helped.a lot!

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24 comments:

Anonymous said...

ugh my son had the sleep issue from the outset. He never did sleep through the night as a baby, toddler, of adolescent. He's 12 now, and it wasn't until we began seeing a new psychiatrist when he was 10, that he got some relief. The doc advised us to give him Melatonin, which is an all-natural supplement sold OTC. It helps him get to sleep. He also put him on Seroquel which is a mood stabilizer that, when taken at night, helps you stay asleep all night. It's now been 2 years of (mostly) restful nights.

Anonymous said...

Melatonin meltaway strips...

Anonymous said...

Melatonin works for mine very well

Anonymous said...

Melatonin or isotonix tryptophan.. These both work great..

Anonymous said...

Melatonin works wonders!

Anonymous said...

Routine and melatonin. Looks like we have a pattern here....

Anonymous said...

My son has been on Clonidine for 2 yrs and finally can get sleep! I've also heard many good things about Melatonin. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

we did melatonin and found a big camping sleeping bag. he cocoons up in there and is allowed one lego guy to fiddle with. we hung christmas lights up to replace All the lights on (fear of the dark).all those combined have helped sooo much!

Anonymous said...

I'm in the UK and am waiting diagnosis, melatonin isn't available over the counter. Any advice on wot to order online? Xx

Anonymous said...

And I'm at my wits end, lucky if we get 4-5hrs a night. :o( x

Anonymous said...

I've looked online and there are so many different kinds, I was looking at an orange syrup (as my boy is only 5) thought it looked better as he won't swallow capsules xx

Anonymous said...

Well there is a lot here about melatonin, we are trying to avoid using medication it supplements of any kind. My daughter has struggled so much in this area. Her OT therapist suggested using her weighted blanket. She has slept through the night ever since we started. She loves it!!! Her blanket also allows us to snuggle, something she has never been able to do. The blanket weighs 10% of her body weight + 1lb.

Anonymous said...

We stop all electronics at supper time (6pm usually). The Dr. Prescribed cookies & milk, so he gets that at 7:30 then knows its bedtime. He sleeps with A side lamp on & "little Einsteins" on the TV. He is very consistent, but the routine works. If he can't sleep he can lay In bed & play with a pencil, but no video games. We tuck him in with a layer of blankets of his choosing. A few years ago we had to read to him & hold him til' he fell asleep. He's 9 & that's changing as he gets older.Good luck.
about an hour ago via mobile · Like · 1

Anonymous said...

My boy won't lie still, tried the hot bath, weighted blanket, massage etc, he usually has a massive meltdown around 11pm and finally tires to sleep around midnight, even then we have to leave his tv on low incase he wakes up. We use phenergan intermittently as if we use it too often it has no effect so maybe 2 days out of 7. The Dr here are very quick to pass the buck, he is currently on a 12mth waitin list till next appointment, If I look behind I can see the end of my tether somewhere in the distance xx

Anonymous said...

I was gonna say Melatonin as well but it looks like everyone knows. My 4 yr old granddaughter was gettin up 4 to 6 times a night before a co-worker told me about it. Melatonin is the best over the counter drug ever invented!!

MrsKTurner said...

Melatonin worked wonders for us as well. We used clonadine for a year but he began having side effects from it. The best thing we ever did was take him to a natural health doctor. He tested positive for heavy metals and went through a slow/gentle chelation (detox) for six months using mainly cilantro and fresh water algae pills. He also takes supplants: fish oil, b vitamin complex, and cerebro calm. My son is a different child now. He was retested and doesn't even fall on the spectrum now. He had been diagnosed with asperger's, ADHD, depression, anxiety, and OCD. I give all thanks to Jesus for answering our prayers of getting to the root of his problems.

Anonymous said...

We don't use melatonin here... I put pressure on my son's shoulders and hip....he lays on his side... this seems to help. He has a weighted neck wrap that I lay on him from shoulder down to hip...3lbs...

Anonymous said...

If some of you are against medicines.....melatonin is a natural chemical found in all of our bodies it helps regulate when our bodies get tired and a lot of children with special needs and older adults produce less than they should...so...I give my boys 1 Mg 1 hour before bed and they chew it up with a drink and it has saved my sanity...
.the only side affect I have encountered is you have to stick to a routine timed bedtime after giving meds b/c once it kicks in they will be tired and start to get grumpy.....good luck

Anonymous said...

I've seen some people recommend Melatonin, however from what I understand, it is really helpful for helping someone FALL asleep, not STAY asleep.

Anonymous said...

My son has a "sound machine" that he listens to when going to bed. He likes to listen to the crickets. This is something I started with him as a baby. It may help, they have different sounds, maybe one would be soothing for your son.

Anonymous said...

We used a mixture of things. We did use Melatonin. We also stopped the use of electronics (games, iPods, etc.) after dinner time. We stuck to a routine. The biggest thing that helped our son was a suggestion from his OT. She suggested that we "brush" him an hour or so before he went to bed. We bought one of those soft brushes for babies (like the one I was given to by a nurse after giving birth to my son) at his OT center. We brush his arms, legs and back with the brush. 10 downward strokes per body part. She told us to be pretty firm when brushing, not to do it lightly or it wouldn't work. This acts as a "de-stimulator". We did it in the morning before school, immediately after school and before bedtime. It worked like a charm.

Kristina Lynema said...

I wish I had known years ago that my son had Aspergers and how to deal with no sleep. He was almost 7 when he slept through the night for the first time. He keeps his large TV on all night in order to do it. He is so scared of the dark that nightlights didn't help. He also has a hard time with any noises if the room is silent...

Dreamtree said...

For our son, creating a safe feeling sleep environment is important -- he falls asleep with the room light on. He also likes to fall asleep listening to his favorite music. The music is especially important, because it gives his mind something to track while he slowly releases focus.

Dreamtree said...

Similar to the cricket sounds another commenter mentioned, our son listens to his favorite music as he falls asleep. This gives his mind something to track as he releases consciousness. Of course, until he was older, I also read to him at bedtime, which was a good start for the winding down process.

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