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Help for Sleep Problems in Children on the Autism Spectrum

"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."

Studies find that approximately 73% of young people on the autism spectrum experience sleep problems, and these problems tend to last longer in this group than they do for kids without the disorder. For example, kids on the spectrum are more likely to be sluggish and disoriented after waking.

Laboratory research has begun to describe the unique physiological presentation associated with sleep problems in these children, including disruptions in the sleep stage most associated with cognitive functioning (i.e. REM or Rapid Eye Movement sleep). In addition to physiological differences, some of the sleep difficulties in this population may be related to anxiety.

The impact of poor sleep is unequivocal. Poor sleep negatively impacts mood and exacerbates selective attention problems commonly found in kids with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism, as well as impairing other aspects of cognitive function.

There is no one panacea to manage sleep problems for these children. However, there are many interventions that are likely to be helpful. In general, moms and dads need to understand and be prepared for resistance to change that these “special needs” kids often show. Parents should also be prepared for problems to get worse before they get better as kids often initially challenge - but then gradually become accustomed to - new routines.

A good place to start an intervention targeted at improving sleep is changing lifestyle behaviors and environmental conditions that can influence sleep/wake patterns. These include exercise, napping, diet, and aspects of the bedroom and sleep routine.

Many children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) have problems sleeping through the night or getting to sleep due in large part to sensory issues. Sensory dysfunction is typically an issue for kids on the autism spectrum. Many moms and dads 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 youngster 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 the 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 your youngster, 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. 

* Additional information on this topic can be found here:  Settling and Waking Problems

More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Here's what other parents have had to say:

•    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... 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 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... 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... 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!
*    The trick is finding the routine that works. We went through a lot of trial and error. After several years of melatonin, she was able to power through it and it no longer worked. We struggled for a while and then found that a sound machine, a diffuser with calming essential oil, 3mg of melatonin and rolling her tightly in her favorite blanket works. If we miss one of these components - it doesn't work.
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Dreaded Shopping Trips with Your HFA or AS Child

"Shopping is an absolute nightmare with my son (high functioning autistic). Any tips would be greatly appreciated!"

Shopping with any child can be extremely hectic and more than just a little bit difficult at times. Shopping places are filled with attention-grabbing advertisements that stimulate kids - even without the challenge of High-Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger's (AS). The last thing you want is to need to overpower a screaming youngster while trying to shop.

Here are some simple tips: 
  1. If possible, shop during the off hours (calmer hours), and make your behavioral expectations clear to your child before entering the store.
  2. Know exactly what you want by keeping a list -- and know where you are going while inside the store.
  3. If your son has a favorite distracting toy or gadget, try to bring it along with you. If not, you may find an inexpensive item that he is attracted to that you could buy to distract him during the shopping experience.
  4. Don’t be afraid to have a time-out, either in the bathroom of the store or just outside the store while the store watches your items. Remember, parents of kids on the autism spectrum deal with this issue all the time, so a little noise and difficulty are to be expected.
  5. If the son is young enough, use the child seats in some stores, including those for older children as well. Buckle your son in carefully and encourage him to remain buckled throughout the ride through the store. Some children are soothed by the action of the cart, while others are over stimulated by it. Choose your “driving patterns” depending on how your son responds to it. Don’t increase the stimulation by removing the safety restraint on your son or having him walk freely throughout the store with you. It’s too easy for him to get lost or to destroy an ad display.
  6. If there are no trolleys and your son is too big to carry, then a firm hold on the hand may have to be your best option.

Shopping doesn’t have to be a nightmare if you plan accordingly.

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Here's what other parents have had to say:

•    Anonymous said... Don't always go with an agenda - make shopping fun sometimes.

•    Anonymous said... I was just about to say use an mp3 player! It really helps my son in supermarkets and anywhere he will have to do boring stuff where there is lots of noise. Even chapel at my daughters school. He sat there with the ear buds in for the whole service! Wish I could have too

•    Anonymous said... My daughter can find crowds and noise overstimulating when we're shopping. We find that distraction and redirection work best to get her through the shopping trip. I carry a "calming kit" in my purse with fidget toys, earplugs, and earbuds for the iPod or iPhone. If she feels too overwhelmed we can pull these things out for her and take the focus off of what is causing her discomfort. Another thing we do that she seems to like is have her help with the shopping. I ask her to help me pick out fruits and vegetables or get things for me off of shelves while I'm standing with her. This seems to take her focus off of what's going on around her and puts it on the items we're looking for. It's kind of like a game and she has fun doing it.

•    Anonymous said... My do. Has had meltdowns at stores to the point where at least once person threatened to call CPS on me because they thought I was abusing him without knowing he was aspergers.

•    Anonymous said... My hubby is the same - hates shopping and if he has to go into town, or to the gym, will come home and collapse on the bed fairly soon afterwards (regeneration time) - the kids just retreat into their computers/tablets or the TV to regenerate

•    Anonymous said... my son hates shopping, slightly better now he is a bit older so I guess there is hope that as he matures, he may be able to deal with it. But, I generally just don't take him shopping unless absolutely necessary. If I have to take him then I tell him in advance, tell him what we need to get and where we need to go and then try to stick to what you have said. If I deviate or add anything to the list - he will loose the plot.

•    Anonymous said... My son hates shopping. I try to do any shopping when he is either at school,camp or when my husband is home to watch him.

•    Anonymous said... Oh and never ever deviate from your list.

•    Anonymous said... Same here with our daughter! We got her comfortable headphones and an iPod and viola!!!! She loves it! Plus I also ask her to help find the groceries on the list and then the lowest price. She loves to help and if she gets a little overwhelmed she asks for a break to put her headphones on has been working for 2 years now. Every one is different though. She is 8 1/2 and has become very responsible with it Good luck to ya!

•    Anonymous said... They seem to do better if they have a list and are "in charge" of it. Make sure they know what they are after and where to find it. Don't linger if you don't have to, especially in a big store with lots of stimuli. My daughter absolutely hates lingering in a store when she doesn't know what she is after and can get it and go.

•    Anonymous said... try it with an aspergers husband,hee hee.

•    Anonymous said... You need to find out the problem, is it noise, crowd, visually too stimulating or maybe even smells. Once you know the trigger it is easier to find the solution, like headphones. My son has this great way of making the people disappear, however this causes problems as he runs into people A LOT. We also have issues with the car park, just getting him inside a shopping centre safely is an issue.

•    Anonymous said...I do the bulk of my grocery shopping online. I only take my boy on short trips to the shops - it's more manageable and the behaviour I'm looking for is more achievable for him.

•    Anonymous said... Use a timer and set it, your child can look at that timer and know in 20 min or how ever long you set it you will be done and when your done give him a praise or prize for doing so well in the store we use this at work and it is awesome

•    Anonymous said... I had problems with my daughter until I started letting her bring her DS games or DVD player she would curl up in a buggy and focus on whcih every she chose.

•    Anonymous said... as mine got older totaly involved them in helping me push trolley/get food off shelves,my problem is with my a/s hubby ,he is fixated on cakes and biscuits,cant get him past that isle wirth out filling whole trolley with goodies.

•    Anonymous said... My child is obsessed with electronics and touching buttons and screens, he cannot walk past an ATM machine, eftpos terminal or any type of electronic device without stopping to touch, climb on counters etc. He is 6 now and I have rewards in place and have found getting him involved with loading the trolley helps. Having a checklist he is in control of and ticks off is marvellous. He liked to "do" and giving him his own jobs takes the focus off his obsessive compulsions. I used to leave him at home when he was younger as he would climb on all the counters to touch the gadgets, I would even find him running off to the toiletsa to continually play with the hand dryer, but as he has gotten older I am finding it easier to reason with him.

•    Anonymous said... I understand & half to say even staying seatbelted in the car waz a nightmare anything that is familar not annoying for u is great to play in car or grocery store start small work with that then increase times to longer my son loves music & i make him bring a toy hope it helps

•    Anonymous said... I am new here but felt I must post on this subject, Taking my 9 year old to any place that he doesnt want to go is a nitemare. He doesnt want to leave the house unless its to get video games. He will take off in the stores so I have to hold his hands, we went to my nephews graduation and he was so upset because of the loud screamming and clapping we had to leave. It is very difficult so now I only take him on short trips to slowly try to over come this

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How to Deal with Embarrassing Sexual Behaviors in Kids on the Spectrum

"This is an embarrassing question, but what do you do about a child (autistic) who plays with his penis in public?"

First of all, I'm impressed with any parent who attempts to address problematic issues - no matter how touchy or embarrassing the topic may be. So, good for you that you were brave enough to ask this question. And you are not alone by the way. Many parents with kids on the autism spectrum have had to work through this dilemma.

Children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger's are sexual beings just as everyone else is. However, because of their inability to control all of their impulses, they may display behaviors that are inappropriate in public. This can be particularly difficult to deal with - and of course it is embarrassing for moms and dads.

This is something you will need to be direct and proactive about. There are social aspects of sexuality that will need to be dealt with. You can use social stories to teach about sexuality as well as many other things.

It is important that your son understand good touch versus bad touch. He can be vulnerable in this area, and you want him to be prepared in order to reduce his risk.

In order to be proactive, you will need to think ahead, and decide what is appropriate to teach your son at each stage of development. When talking about sexuality, use real terms. Young people on the spectrum do not pick up on social cues, so they need concrete terms about what you are talking about.

Reinforce appropriate behavior, and when inappropriate behavior occurs (e.g., masturbating in public), parents need to redirect the youngster.

Plan ahead before going into the community. Let your son know exactly what is expected of him while he is out in the community (e.g., masturbating in public is inappropriate). If he doesn't seem to comprehend, give him something else to keep his hands busy.

Set aside some time with your son to talk about sexuality. If you only respond when an incident occurs, you may be sending the wrong message. Find out what he knows about sexuality, again using direct questions.

Find out if your son has concerns or fears about sexuality. Talk about what is "normal" sexual behavior, but also let him know what is inappropriate. Try to let him know that it is okay to have sexual feelings, and it is OK to talk about them.

If you still have concerns, talk to your son's school. They may have some programs that can be helpful in teaching more about sexuality - or you can seek the advice of a professional outside of the school.

Lastly, have you child view this video:

More resources for parents of children and teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism:

==> Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums in Asperger's Children

==> Discipline for Defiant Asperger's Teens

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Here's what other parents have had to say:

• Anonymous said... I always stressed that it was something private, but if your child does it in public anyway, I'm not sure what to do. I could only stress to NOT punish for it. Maybe take small trips to "practice public" and reward the child for making it thru without touching himself.

• Anonymous said... I gave my son another socially acceptable habit to replace it. A spin ring worked well and he would spin it on his finger for security instead of playing with himself. He used to do it all the time and now at 12 doesn't need it must of the time.

• Anonymous said... If the child is verbal, discuss the legal perimeters and consequences....designate a place and a time that is appropriate. Ie..bedroom/bathroom. "In private" is the key lesson here, not to eliminate self stimulation.

• Anonymous said... My 9 yr old and 7 yr olds do this all the time. Mostly at home, but will quite happily sit in the lounge quietly playing with themselves. We do stop them and expl ain that they need to do that in the privacy of their bedroom, however it often takes quite sometime before the message gets through... we just carry on repeating it until it eventually gets through... still an ongoing battle. An aspie/ASD trait or just a boy thing? I dont know, but they do need to learn. All thing sexual do seem to fascinate my 9 yr old...

• Anonymous said... When I see my son with his hands on his winker in public, no I didn't misspell, I say hands in the air. Then he knows to stop and isn't embarrassed. For him it's more a security issue. He feels safer when he holds it. I've noticed if he gets scared from a loud noise, his hands go straight down there.

•    Anonymous said... My son does it all the time, he even tries to show people

•    Anonymous said... well,my son doesnt so much 'play with' but does have tendancy to 'hold himself' inappropriatly.i simply remind him[calmly + quietly] that we are in public + that's an activity for the privacy of his room.

•    Anonymous said... my 9 year old had a sort of adjustment he would do. this would include his hand going down his pants. he told me it was like an itch that had to be scratched. he had "no control like the onset of a cough". I started with telling him to do it over the pants if he must do it at all. it took a long time with MANY reminders but I think he now understands that it IS inappropriate. I do catch him sneaking an adjustment in when he believes no one can see him.

•    Anonymous said... Doctor says to remind them that those are their "privates" and that they should only touch them in PRIVATE. It helped alot!

•    Anonymous said... What do you do with an Aspergers teenage boy that has become obsessed with it?

•    Joann said...Yes my soon has this issue also, it started in kindergarten. Very shocking to me to say the least. The advice here is great. Private only and it seems to happen more when they are bored.

•    joy said... my stepson has issues with touching others.I have sought help from teacher,dr,and child and family services.What do I do now?

•    shanti said... My 9 year old son is an Aspie and he says he does it without knowing.I got him a Fidget toy.Anything stimulating that fits in his pocket.His is a squishy little bird with little feeler things on it.Got it at the Dollar Store.You have to redirect their train of thought and routine.Being that Aspies are extremely compulsive and repetitive in certain mannerisms they like a switch in self soothing.

•    Anonymous said... OH my God, my son is an ADHD child, he's only 6years now . his is a bit different he seem pleased with any open flesh around him. especially a fat woman's arm , thigh or open breast from a top. he would touch softly put his cheek around the area press with his elbow and finally he puts his genital and starts rubbing against say the thighs, and he is so happy about it. its so embarrassing, and neither does he talk nor does he seem to understand. I attempt to beat him or scare him and he will repeat this within a few minutes. I used to think maybe he saw this on the TV OR maybe saw us in that moment which I don't think he did, but this proves it all wrong because his younger brother who just turned two and is also an ADHD CHILD. Is showing same signs, whenever u give him a hug he will press u with his genitals more. is this biological do they have extra sex hormones or what.
help me please

*   newone644 said...Beating a child will never help in the long run. It is only short term results with long term damage that varies from child to child. I have this same issue with my now 8 year old High Functioning Autism/ADHD child and after carefully and clearly explaining the reasons why this had to only be done in private, we came up with the code word “dragons.” I say dragons and his hands go straight down and this child has never been spanked even a day in his life. Be sure to reward every minute you see your child catch themselves or successfully not doing it. Kids love to please and by saying a code word you make it stay positive and not turn them into thinking something is wrong or bad about themselves. That’s how bad people form in my opinion and is labeling a child.
*   Anonymous said...I am opposite. I have autism and am not able to even look at my private part. It's always made me uncomfortable

*   Unknown said...My 13 year old started squashing his penis with his thighs at the age of 6months, he does it most of the time; IT'S SO EMBARRASSING, he is non verbal, I'm just lost and stressed

*   Anonymous said...My issue is different…my 4 year old grandson has begun rubbing up against my pup and getting an erection…so clearly a sensory situation. His mother tells him to stop…and he does, but with no explanation, I know he will just start sneaking to satisfy his need. Just not sure what and how much to say to a 4 year old. He doesn’t speak much, but he definitely understands…any suggestions greatly appreciated.…

*   Hogan said...My son has ADHD and has been suspended for masturbating at school.

Sensory-Stimulation for Hyperactive Kids on the Autism Spectrum

"I need some strategies to help my daughter calm down. She has autism (high functioning) and ADHD and is wound tighter than a ten cent top most of the day. If I had her energy, I could probably fly to the moon and back by just flapping my arms."

Many children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger's who are also hyperactive benefit from sensory stimulation. Providing a sensory room or area can be very effective. Be as creative as you can when providing sensory stimulation for your child.

There are many things you can purchase, but you can also make many things within your home. What you use should in part be determined by what your child enjoys or is seeking.

Some ideas are: 
  • A mini trampoline can provide physical exercise and sensory input.
  • Create a touch board, and attach a variety of materials, from sand paper, to carpet. 
  • Fill a tub with sand, navy beans, or other similar item that they can play in. 
  • Find different scents of potpourri that they can use for deep breathing. 
  • Foot massagers are great for waking up the feet.
  • Hang a swing from your ceiling, if it is reinforced. 
  • Have music playing that your child enjoys - this can be calming music or vigorous music. 
  • String blinking Christmas lights around the room. 
  • Use a hammock for the child to lay in and receive deep pressure.
  • Use a variety of lotions for both scent and touch.
  • Use a vibrating massager for deep touch.
  • Use play dough for touch activities.

The purpose of this room is to waken your child's senses and also calm her down. It is most effective to create a schedule of when your daughter will be provided free time in this room. It is probably not best to give her free access to her sensory area, as their will be other things that she needs to participate in. Also, use this area at transition times to provide a smooth transition from one activity to the next.

More resources for parents of children and teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism:

Here's what other parents have had to say:

  • Anonymous said... A gluten free, dairy free diet changed my sons behavior so much!!! Also, no corn syrup or red dye 40. He has Aspergers with ADHD too.

• Anonymous said... Does she take any supplements? Whole foods has excellent supplements specifically for children with ADHD

• Anonymous said... Hi! I have a son who is 11 with ADHD and Aspergers. He's in constant motion, can't take stimulants to calm down, and I often find him spinning in place or somersaulting around just because he has no idea what to do with his energy! Sometimes a change in diet can help, but with most kids (not all) that's not the only solution. Studies in Europe have loosely linked food dyes with increased hyperactivity in kids with ADHD, so that's one possibility. There are some reports that omega-3 fish oil helps too. Weighted vests and heavy muscle-work can also help fatigue the body and slow down the kids, at least for a while. We were told to use the weighted vest (or some other weight/compression, like being sandwiched between two bean bag chairs) for 20 minutes, two or three times a day. For my son, running (using the Wii) or riding his bike outside for just ten minutes will help slow him down. Swimming every day, or every other day, seems to provide more long-lasting effects, over a couple of days. When all seems lost in a day, and he's really hyper and melting down, taking a bath or a shower does it for my son. One of the keys is to figure out what, exactly, calms your daughter down. My son is 11 so he can verbalize that warmth, water, and darkness (a hoodie over his head) calm his brain down. It's not a sure fix and somedays are better than others, but I'm grateful that we have this much! Good luck with your daughter and feel free to message me if you want to chat further.

• Anonymous said... How old is she? She sounds exactly like my daughter was a couple of years ago from toddlerhood. She's now nearly 14 and much calmer, although a lot of hyperactivity is is chatting nineteen to the dozen rather than climbing furniture. She has learned with her therapist to recognize whe she is wired and go to the trampoline or punchbag (both excellent safe ways of getting out the hyper energy) and also she reads (she's hyperlexic) and as long as she has the kindle and abundle of books she can stay still now on a bus or train or in a cafe) Also a gf/df diet keeps her calmer. We also use fish oils. Plus phenagan, an anit histimine, and her favourite DVDs at bedtime which can calm her down to stay still if not sleep.

• Anonymous said... My son is very hyper as well. In fact when school first started telling me he was autistic, I kept telling them "no, he is ADHD". There are similarities. At bedtime he is usually wired. 

•    Anonymous said...Aspergers and ADHD - same diagnosis as my son. But he's on Ritalin XR (extended release), so although he does have a lot of energy, he's not super-hyper either.

•    Anonymous said... I recently read an article about fermented cod liver oil and the benefits for kids with ASHD and Asperger's...Im going to look into it for my own son.

•    Anonymous said... I am diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and what helps me is go to a quiet room and breathe in and breathe out a couple times and count to 20 and do my favorite activitiy like for example read or word search book!

•    Anonymous said... We give our son Mega Red krill oil capsules for his Aniexty & Kroger brand Bone supplement for Hearinf sensitivity. I recently found Adult chewables of both at Walgreens. Bone support must contain Magnesium, Zinc & Calcium. Give daily we've noticed a Huge difference. He's not at jumpy, etc

•    Anonymous said... My son just starting doing cross country, middle school. He found on his own last summer he felt better when he runs. Now he runs some all day. Now, he is becoming part if the school team & finally feels as if he fits somewhere. I started noticing a difference after just a few days of camp but didn't want to say anything just yet. Then yesterday in the car on the way home from an unusually calm trip to the store, he calmly told me, "Mom, I feel really calm today". I think it is the release of energy with the combination of the outdoors. The team runs in a park with a lot of trails in the woods.

•    Anonymous said... You sound like you know yourself very well - That's a great thing! I hope my 6 year old starts to better understand that kind of thing - it Sure Works for him - but it will be a while for it to be more self-directed - he's only 6 ~~~ however - we're considering other natural supplements & lots more of the types of physical input that balances it.... I hope there will be more responses - I really gain a lot from threads like these - - - will read the linked article tonight!

•    Anonymous said... Both my boys have aspergers and all the other diagnosis that go along with it, we have so many calm down strategies because what works one day won't work the next. We are currently involved in a university study on the effects of green lipped muscle extract, one boy takes it and the other has the placebo and i can tell you it certainly has made a difference in the one that is taking it, not a miracle cure, but has certainly made his behaviour more tolerable by all around him

•    Anonymous said... I love all children especially children with Asperger's Syndrome ADHD and Down Syndrome and other disabilities! Nobody knows your better than you! You know what is best for your son and as he grows up more he will learn! :) Nobody knows your son better than you! Different things work for different children!

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

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD 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.

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How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

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 or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your 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.

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Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

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

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD 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 ASD 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."

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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to read the full article...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content