sleep tips for kids with autism

Addressing Sleep Problems:

Parents often ask us about their kiddos’ sleep problems. Sometimes our kids have trouble falling asleep, or difficulty staying asleep. Sometimes they are just not getting enough sleep in general. And when our kids have sleep problems it doesn’t just affect them, it affects the whole family, siblings, and parents, as well. When we don’t get enough sleep it can affect our mood, behavior, and overall self-regulation.


If your child is having sleep problems, consider the following things:


1. Activity

Is your child getting enough movement and activity during the day? It’s important for them to get plenty of movement and activity, but at the same time, you also need to make sure that they’re not overtired or overstimulated because that can cause problems with trying to settle down at bedtime.


2. Nutrition

How is their nutrition? Are they getting enough fruits, vegetables, and protein? We know sometimes that’s hard, with kids who are picky eaters. Certainly, you want to limit sugar, caffeine, and dyes in their food, because those things can get them hyped up and can interfere with their sleeping at night.


3. Medication

If your child is on medication, you want to consider any side effects that the medication might be having that could be affecting their sleep.

Creating Better Sleep Habits:

There are some things you can to do help them have a better sleep environment and better sleep habits:


1. Bedtime routine

Have a consistent bedtime routine.


2. Keep it quiet

Make sure that their room, their sleep environment, is calm, quiet and dark. You might use a white noise machine or a sound machine to help drown out some other sounds in the house, or your child might prefer noise-cancelling headphones.


3. Limit screen time

phones, video games, TV. Try to stop screen use at least an hour before bedtime.


4. Try a weighted blanket

These are very helpful for some children. Another option is a lycra compression sheet that you can put on their bed to give them that calming, proprioceptive input before bedtime.


If you have any sleep problems with your child, or if you have any questions about things you can do to help them, talk to your child’s therapist. We can work together to come up with a plan to help your child and your family to have the best sleep possible! 

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