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

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Asperger’s Syndrome and Sleeplessness

"We've been getting complaints from our aspergers/high functioning daughter's teacher that she doses off during 'study time'. It's becoming a real problem. She seems wide awake and full of energy at home though. What would you suggest?"

According to studies on sleeplessness in Aspergers kids:

• 50% feel un-refreshed when waking up in the morning
• 50% are disinclined to go to bed
• 75% fall asleep sweating
• 75% have a need for a light or television in the bedroom
• 87% feel sleepy during the day
• 87% have difficulty getting to sleep at night
• 87% have difficulty waking up in the morning

The incidence of sleep difficulties in this population seems to be extremely high. Many parents of kids with Aspergers (high functioning autism) complain that this problem is one of the most serious they face. Unfortunately, when these young people are unable to sleep, they do not usually remain quietly in bed. They are often up and out of bed, making noise, interfering with their parents’ sleep and requiring adult supervision.

Identifying the child’s particular issues will help you make a plan to provide a soothing and inviting atmosphere for sleep. Establishing a bedtime routine is essential especially with sleep problems associated with Aspergers. Look into the following suggestions that could help you identify what will work best:

1. Identify foods that should be avoided before bedtime. There are also many foods that you can find in an online search that naturally help with the sleep cycles of your body as well.

2. Identify if noise is a problem. Is there a need for a rhythmic noise like a fan in the background? White noise provides a steady monotone sound that helps filter out distracting noises. Maybe on the flip side there is noise that is a sensory problem that could be removed such as a ticking clock? Ear plugs may also help in this situation.

3. If they are fidgety or need to be physically calmed down often a “weighted blanket” can be used. This is simply a custom made cushion or blanket filled with a heavier filler material like poly-pellets, sand, or even beads. The deep pressure of the blanket helps calm and promote sleep.

4. Is light an issue? Do they need a nightlight? Do they need complete darkness to help settle their brain as there will be no visual stimuli available?

5. Is their brain still on overdrive? Do they have something on their mind that will not allow it to slow down until they resolve it? Often turning off the television, music, electronic devices and other outside stimuli can help them wind down. Reading often is a good replacement as it helps them relax and focus. Often soft flowing music set low can help them relax.

6. Is there something to the touch that is bothering them? Certain fabrics can be texturally sensitive and annoying. Pillows not piled up correctly, or a bed not made correctly can be a distraction. Are they itching all the time and focusing only on that?

7. Medications have been used as well. Melatonin is an over the counter supplement found near most Vitamins in stores. Melatonin is a natural substance that the human body makes to induce sleep. Discuss ANY use of medication for sleeplessness with a doctor!

8. Taking a hot shower or bath can help some kids relax, however may have the opposite effect on others. Often scents like lavender used with a bath helps with relaxation.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

 COMMENTS:

*   Anonymous said... my child falls asleep sweating, needs a light, but doesn't have a problem going to bed or waking up...
*   Anonymous said...  Yeah, that sweating thing is weird--never attributed it to the Aspergers before. Good to know.
•    Anonymous said... Dom was on melatonin and it worked for a good while but he now has real problems either getting to sleep or getting up but not sure how much is down to being a teenager
•    Anonymous said... Dr put Mine on clonidine. Only thing that works for him.
•    Anonymous said... Exactly like my little aspie!!!
•    Anonymous said... I have to ring mine every morning at Uni to help him wake up otherwise he will sleep through until 3-4 pm. He's tried everything but just simply can't make himself go to sleep
•    Anonymous said... I read that tart cherry juice helps with sleep. I have not tried yet
•    Anonymous said... I wish everyone understood this about Aspergers kids. A combination of ADHD and Anxiety can cause restlessness and the sleep patterns aren't consistent.
•    Anonymous said... ive tried every remedy listed and none of it works,melatonin did for a few weeks,,hes now 14 and seems to function quite well on little sleep so im not sure about other medication
•    Anonymous said... Meditation & melatonin work wonders for our little guy. Lack of sleep is awful for Aspies since they have trouble paying attention at school & keeping their emotions in check as it is.
•    Anonymous said... My 14 yr old aspie also has melatonin at night. She falls asleep with her beloved movie running in the background on the portable DVD player with the lid shut. Her problem is staying asleep - any hints to help her stay asleep?
•    Anonymous said... My eight year old reads himself to sleep every night. Part of my nightly routine is to go in and turn off the light, remove his reading glasses and put his book on his nightstand. He's so cute because he holds the book upright and still looks awake unless you look closely.
•    Anonymous said... My son is almost 16. He has been like this for so many years....
•    Anonymous said... My son just turned 5 and has been exactly this way for over a year with the sleep problems, we are currently still dealing with an ADHD combined type with ODD and a mood disorder for a diagnosis for him, however I still don't fee that is accurate, he is on respirdal twice a day for seeing "things or people" and vyvanse in the morning and trazadone at night to help put him to sleep in which it does not do its job, the other two meds work great though, any suggestions? We're also still struggling with potty training and he's already halfway through his 2nd year of school with peers his age
•    Anonymous said... My son to a tee ! Melatonin stopped working a loooong time ago it's horrid for them x
•    Anonymous said... My son took a combination of melatonin and clonadin for several years. Worked sell up until recently. His insomnia is horrible.
•    Anonymous said... My son's healthcare provider recommended GABA in the evening. Taken around dinner time, and following a strict routine (shower, snack, brushing, reading together while he is in bed) has resolved the problem in the evening.
•    Anonymous said... oh my, i thought it was only my son who had this problem
•    Anonymous said... This is my son as well. He takes melatonin, but it doesn't work all that well.
•    Anonymous said... This is our daughter to a tee.
•    Anonymous said... to top it off with the sleep issues, he's been waking up every night between 1 and 3 am and stays up till about 5:30, only 30 minutes before he has to go to school so he's extremely wore out
•    Anonymous said... What's GABA? My son takes melatonin but is now having trouble getting to sleep on it (not as bad though when he doesn't take it). He is starting high school next year too. He goes to sleep with music (eventually!). I have stopped any electronic games including iPod and computer at 7pm or sometimes earlier depending on his day. Does not have soft drink after 6:30pm nor chocolate. I check on him every night at intervals until he goes to sleep just to make sure he is not using anything electronic too.
•    Anonymous said... Ya, I have tried everything on this list except the weighted blanket (I already know he would hate that, he thinks some normal blankets are too heavy), and the Melatonin... The doctor ok'd the use of Melatonin, but I am still wishing I could get his sleep on track without medicine...
•    Anonymous said... yep.. my son... but what can we do to help our children... I've even tried melatonin, but it only works sometimes.

Please post your comment below…

4 comments:

Peggy said...

I swear by Melatonin. My son started with 1mg when he was around 8 yrs old, to help him get to sleep, then had to increase it to 2 mg about a year later. But he wasn't staying asleep. Thank God we found Melatonin XR ! This extended release helps him get to sleep and stay asleep. At age 14 now, he's back to just 1 mg of the XR, and he wakes up refreshed and happy.

Ilene Graebner said...

My son has a regular bedtime routine between 8:30-9 where we mark off his calendar, say good night, after a warm shower. However, he will go into the bathroom and just sit there in the bathroom not doing anything for sometimes up to an hour after we tell him it is bedtime!

DoyleFamily said...

My son is sleeping his way through life... Ever since he was three he sleeps through school, he is now in high school and failing all his classes because he sleeps through them! ANY SUGESTIONS welcome.

Paul Roberts said...

To Doyle Family, i am experiencing the same problem with my 12 year old always falling to sleep at school. It is causing no end of problems. Now trying the Melatonin might ask aout the Melatonin XR??

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually. Thus, the best treatment for Aspergers children and teens is, without a doubt, “social skills training.”

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…

Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

Parenting children with Aspergers and HFA can be a daunting task. In layman’s terms, Aspergers is a developmental disability that affects the way children develop and understand the world around them, and is directly linked to their senses and sensory processing. This means they often use certain behaviors to block out their emotions or response to pain.

Click here to read the full article…

Older Teens and Young Adult Children With Aspergers Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…

Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

Research reveals that the divorce rate for people with Aspergers is around 80%. Why so high!? The answer may be found in how the symptoms of Aspergers affect intimate relationships. People with Aspergers often find it difficult to understand others and express themselves. They may seem to lose interest in people over time, appear aloof, and are often mistaken as self-centered, vain individuals.

Click here to read the full article…

Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

If you’re the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you know it can be a struggle from time to time. Your child may be experiencing: obsessive routines; problems coping in social situations; intense tantrums and meltdowns; over-sensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights; preoccupation with one subject of interest; and being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes. The hardest part is you feel like you’ll never actually get to know your child and how he/she views the world.

Click here to read the full article...

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