Asperger's Syndrome Sleep Problems

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-12-2004
Asperger's Syndrome Sleep Problems
11
Mon, 09-27-2004 - 6:15pm
My seven-year-old son has Aspgerger's Syndrome and we are having a really difficult time getting him to sleep through the night without waking up. He usually wakes up about 2-3 hours after he falls asleep and cannot fall back to sleep unless someone is lay next to him. If no one stays in bed with him, he will continue to wake up repeatedly during the night. He does initially fall asleep on his own at bedtime (it was a long process getting that to happen!). Does anyone have any ideas for how I can solve this problem? At this point I get so exhausted that I just end up sleeping in his bed halfway through the night.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Tue, 09-28-2004 - 11:43am

Hi and welcome.

 


 



iVillage Member
Registered: 09-12-2004
Tue, 09-28-2004 - 4:02pm
The Pediatrician has suggested reward charts, etc. and I've tried those suggestions but to no avail. I think there are some Aspie-specific issues going on but sometimes I just don't have the creativity to figure out the best answer.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Tue, 09-28-2004 - 4:36pm

I'll be glad to do some looking and asking round for you.

 


 



Avatar for mt_happydaze
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 09-29-2004 - 3:51pm
Oh my, I'm not the only one that sleeps with their child? I am probably no help because we have the same problem and my dd has CP, severe/profound MR, and seizure disorder(controlled by meds.), so our kids may not have the same causes for their sleep difficulties. Have you tried Melatonin? That seemed to help some for us and actually I want to get her back on that. For some time now, she has been taking Elavil, an antidepressant, because the side effects are sleepiness and dry mouth(we have severe drooling issues). I think it helps with her sleeping as far as initially falling asleep, but I don't like giving her a med just for the side effects so I need to get with the DR on changing that. I still have to lay with her to get her to fall asleep almost every night(without the med, though, it takes her much longer to settle and go to sleep). If she wakes up during the night, I have to get in bed with her.

Sorry I'm not helpful--I'm hoping someone answers your post with some ideas! Just wanted you to know you're not the only one that sleeps with their child(long after babyhood!). The doctors have not been any help--guess they are at a loss, too. Good luck and please post if you come up with a solution!

Pam

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-01-2004
Wed, 09-29-2004 - 6:42pm
Hello!

I have a daughter with autism and she has sleeping issues aswell. She is also like your son and will sleep with me there. She is only 4 and going through the mommy is god stage lmao. What I do (this probably will not help you but...) is I set up a little bed on the floor beside my work desk and computer and let her sit on my lap for about 30 mins while I do all my stuff and then it is bed time so I pu her in the make shift bed beside me and in about 30 mins she is asleep. The when I go to bed I carefully pick her up and put her in her bed. If she wakes up in the night she knows where to find me and comes to our room where I put the "bed" beside our bed on my side and then she sleeps the rest of the night. She used to come into my room nightly before I started doing that but now it is down to maybe once ever 1-2 months and it keeps getting longer and longer. Hope I was of some help.

-Nya

P.S. I know that some peds will perscribe sleeping pills and I have done some respit and parent relief for kids on variouse different persciptions and I do know they can work wonders! And that was like 10 years ago and I know these meds have come a long way since there and there are new thinks available. I don't want to put Lilly on any though because it might cause reactions to occur with some of her other meds.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-19-2004
Fri, 10-01-2004 - 9:35pm

Hi Pam, it's Sandra!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-2003
Sat, 10-02-2004 - 12:10pm
My 6 year old son with autism has the same problem. We tried different techniques, but nothing was working. I brought this issue to my son's pediatric neurologist about a year and half ago. The problem was not only him having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, he was constantly looking for something to eat, and if he woke up during the night, and my husband and I were not aware he was awake, we were afraid he might hurt himself somehow. Also, during the week when he goes to school, his days are very long, so he needs a good nights sleep. Because of the above mentioned, the doctor prescribed clonidine to my son. It has been working great for my son and with no side effects. The past couple of weeks, though, he has not been sleeping through the night. We are waiting to see what the doctor will do about this. I wish you good luck, I know how exhausting this situation can be.

Carol

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-03-2004
Sun, 10-03-2004 - 2:50pm
Dear iv Mom23,

My 7-year-old son is diagnosed with pdd-nos and we also have dealt with sleeping problems over the years, as have many of our friends with spectrum children. The one thing I have not seen addressed in posts to you is the sensory component, and this is key in how we have worked. We have never yet used drugs, and at this point in time our son is sleeping through the night and in his own room. And has been for some time (3 months), and he's very proud of the fact as well. Hooray!!

I think there is no one answer, but a sensory-issue child (and I have yet to meet a spectrum child without sensory issues) that cannot sleep well is not relaxed at the end of the day, and that has to do with high sensory anxiety most of all. Especially if they CAN sleep with you in the bed, because that means the warmth, comfort, and pressure of your body is providing nighttime "OT" and helping them to relax. So our best approach has been by slowly lowering anxiety and addressing the physical and emotional needs that were being met our physical presence.

We have lots of rules based on this exploration, such as no TV or other form of screens (gameboy, computer games) as of 2 hours before bedtime, "night-night sensory games" (see next paragraph) and a calming snack right before bed (current favorite: bowl of cereal with soy milk), bath with calming music, then storytime in the bed, cuddle time and lullabies with nightlight on and then parent to next room where they can hear him, but are not in his room. Bedtime is fixed even if he doesn't feel sleepy, and he must stay in his bed. When we were first transitioning him from bed on floor in our room to his own bed in his own room, we also would allow playing quietly in his bed in semi-dark with his chosen stuffed animal sleep pals (usually for 15 minutes or so) before we insisted that he say good-night to them all and close his eyes. At first he would call out for reassurance that parent was in next room for quite ahile, but over time that got better.

We did let our son sleep with us for many years, and worked for all those years on the anxiety-lowering part of the "night-night" routine, such as lots of physical rough-housing several hours before bedtime, trampoline, pulling him in sensory bag full of stuffed animals, late swimming if available, massages with warm oil after bath (he calls it "Being petted"), etc. Wear him out, up his sensory diet (in therapist-ese), calm him down. We knew when his diet was enough the nights he DIDN'T roll up into our bed from his bed on the floor. For many years, one of us also needed to "do the lie down" with him until he fell asleep as well. We got rid of that last year.

We also let him lead on the timing of all this, as our experience is that what works for neurotypical kids doesn't apply to him. We discussed each step we wanted him to take in advance (sometimes for many months), always using the "big-boy" carrot and pointing out other kids who slept by themselves, had their own rooms -- such as older cousins he adores -- but also letting him know that this would be when he was ready and we would not force him. Just a series of goals that we would help him with.

We also let him design his own room, picking out colors and bed and desk and artwork. Now he has a silver loftbed ("a bed in the sky") and we don't hear from him all night. We don't even need the physical wearing out part anymore, because Malcolm's sensory needs are much lower and also much more being met by him and in his daily life and schooling. Actually, these days when we are running late, the only part of the routine he absolutely insists on and needs is the cuddle and lullabies.

This sounds like alot of work, and it has been. We were perfectly prepared for this project to take many more years bacause the intitial problems were extreme, but we are thrilled that it only took 5 years. Lots and lots of trial, error, etc. There were times where we were really near our breaking points, times Malcolm went to school without lots of sleep, but all along Malcolm made progress and took his baby steps with confidence and joy. And that has made the Malcolm Sleep project worth every second.

One more hint based on experience: the more anxious you are about when and how soon this all happens, the more anxiety the child has. We worked on presenting all of this to Malcolm with very little emotional attachment to the outcome. We "knew he would do it eventually, no big deal, when he was ready." That really makes a difference.

Hope any or all of this helps. My husband and I are now adjusting to having our own bedroom back, Seems lonely without him! (A little ...)

yours,

Ilovemalcolm

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-2003
Sun, 10-03-2004 - 11:25pm
Your night time routine sounds great. I give you and your husband a lot of credit. Your approach makes absolute sense. I do try my best to quiet the house about 2 hrs before bed time, but I guess it has not been enough and I have not been consistent. With my situation, I have 2 daughters, 8 and 2. In addition, because of my husband working hours, I am the one who makes dinner, helps with homework, and I get the 3 ready for bed. By the time he comes home on most nights of 9-10:00 pm, all is done. The nights he is home I think there is more tension in the home. I have to keep after him to turn the tv off and help me with the kids and whatever else needs to be done around the house. Anyway, I would like to be able to spend more time with my son to set up a better bed time routine with him. But, that is also true with my daughters. The idea of my son being on medications bothers me so much. I will give your approach a try to best of my ability. Thank you for your input.

Carol

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-03-2004
Mon, 10-04-2004 - 3:35pm
Dear Carol,

It is much harder when you are doing everything yourself, plus you have more than 1 child. Just a thought : your 8 and 2 year old can certainly participate in the sensory games to wear him out --- dancing to fun music, pillow fights and wrestling on beds are great. We used to make "Malcolm sandwiches", pressing him between "slices of bread" (big pillows) after pretend-slathering him with mustard, mayo, etc., then roll over him on top of pillows. Anything that provides lots of deep physical pressure can help everyone to sleep, including you. I really wish we had a swimming pool in our building, as the nights after Malcolm swims are his deepest, most refreshing sleeps.

Maybe the 8 year old could read stories to him? She might be willing to do a little mothering?

I think the best thing is to have a certain series of steps that you repeat predictably for your Asperber's kid, with room for experimentation, all leading to more and more relaxation. Spectrum kids really relax best with reasonably predictable schedules. Also, he must be high-functioning, therefore he can TELL you what helps him feel more relaxed while you try it out. Many spectrum kids don't have enough language skills. So that could make things easier over time.

Good luck. Maybe your husband can get headsets for the TV so the kids don't hear while he's watching? It would be great if he could find his way clear to helping you, but offering him opportunities to lower his OWN tension so he doesn't make things worse might be worth it.

yours,

Sara

aka ilovemalcolm

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