After a recent trip to the autism show in London, www.autismshow.co.uk, I was listening to one of the speakers on how to help get your child to sleep and noted the following useful tips. We’re due to attend a sleep clinic with our son next week so none of the below have been put into practise yet. I’ll update the blog over the next few weeks with how it all went.
- Obvious one – darkness. Use a blackout blind (already got) but I never understood the science behind it. If our son has a particularly bad night we use melatonin as many autistic children don’t naturally produce enough to help them sleep. What I hadn’t realised is that it’s light, or the lack of, that produces it naturally. The less light your eye detects the more of the stuff is produced!
- Plain bedroom. Essentially the room should be nice and welcoming, a place your child doesn’t mind being, but it shouldn’t be full of toys and other items that will cause stimulation and evoke play. A few items of comfort are acceptable though, e.g. teddy. The child should recognise it as a place to calm down and sleep.
- Natural pattern of tiredness. Look at first to only put the child to bed when they’re tired and work your way backwards. Our son’s bedtime at the moment is about 18:45 but he doesn’t end up going to sleep until hours later. The idea is to put him to bed instead at about 21:45 when he is very tired so he will sleep soon after. Then day after day move it down by five minutes until you reach the desired time you want them to go to bed. If they’re not asleep within 15 minutes of being put to bed they weren’t tired enough.
- Set bed time. Once bed time has been established that’s set in stone. The child will naturally wind down and expect to go to bed at a certain time each day.
- In a relaxed state when it’s time for bed. If your child gets stressed when brushing teeth, taking medicine, having a bath, etc. don’t do these things right before bedtime but a long time before.
- Bath before bed. As long as this activity doesn’t upset your child it is a useful exercise as it help lower the body temperature correctly for sleeping especially in the summer.
- Reading a relaxing story. Can help calm the child but should only be done if relaxing, not stimulating.
- Massage/talking. Perform this and other activities but only if it helps calm and relax and assist the child to sleep not if stimulates or excites.
- Keep robotic. When it’s time to leave the room keep it simply and have little eye contact or interaction.
- Child should go to sleep on their own. It’s important for them to put themselves to sleep rather than having someone in the room singing/holding their hand. If necessary stay in the room but move closer to the door each night, even if it’s 5cm a night.
- Rewards. If necessary rewarding the child for going to sleep / not getting up too early can be used.
- Pictures. If the child is worried about sleeping and not waking up then use pictures to show them a child going to sleep/waking in the morning to re-enforce that’s normal and nothing to worry about.
- Sleeping bags/weighted blankets. These can help make the child feel more secure and give them the pressure and sensory feedback they need to help them sleep.
- Bedtime process. Once the bedtime routine has started all the daytime activities and toys should be off limits. The child needs to know they can’t jump on the trampoline, play with the train track, basically it’s winding down and time for bed!
For anyone who has or works with children with autism I would highly recommend attending next year’s autism show. My wife and I attended 2013 London and found it to be very informative and useful. There were a lot of stands that didn’t apply to use such as lawyers helping your child get into the school you want, resources for professionals, etc. but there was enough there to keep us going for five hours or so.
The most useful stands were an Autism nanny who we are having a Skype with in the coming weeks, a small holiday resort for families with autistic children, affordable sensory toys and learning resources, specialists 1-1 help, and speakers giving advice on sleeping, speech and other matters.
All in all it was well worth the trip and no doubt next year’s dates will be posted up on the website: http://www.autismshow.co.uk/ . The only thing I would say that if your child doesn’t like hustle and bustle and needs a lot of freedom to run around and play it might be worth leaving them with someone so you can take everything in.
This is the first part of my own reference to aid me when embarking on taking more photographs in the future. Many of the tips I’ve picked up whilst attending some day trip courses with a professional photographer. I’m just going to give a very brief overview on this site with links to other sites with more detail and expert guidance.
This is a rule that has been applied by artists for centuries. For some reason our brains are wired to prefer the main subject of the photograph to be located on or around four sections of the frame. Essentially the image is divided into nine segments and the point of intereset is to be placed on the top left, top right, bottom left or bottom right intersections. For more information and some examples see the following URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_thirds
As an example please see my own photo below of Reculver Castle. The intersections don’t have to be exact and sometimes not followed at all. It’s a case of knowing when to break the rules.
Had a great success this week by using the reward card system when my autistic son was having his hair cut. Ever since he has been having his hair cut over a year ago the experience has been getting worse and worse. The result being my son crying and screaming whilst I have to resort to keeping him in a lock for his own safety.
Various strategies have been suggested such as getting him to practise with scissors, watching us get our haircut, cutting his hair cut in his sleep and building up to a full haircut by getting bits cut each return visit. The problem was Jake went into a meltdown as soon as scissors got near him.
However, my wife has recently been on a two day course for PECS which my son uses to communicate. They introduced the concept of a reward card so the child has to earn a treat they want. Each time they achieve something they get a button towards their target number. This works like a charm. My sons favourite is DVD’s so it went like this:
1. Ask Jake to choose a DVD to get him happy and excited
2. Explain to him that after five cuts he gets to watch an episode of the DVD.
3. Count each cut and make a big fuss of how well he is doing.
4. Let him watch the episode in peace.
5. Repeat until haircut finished.
He didn’t like it but tollerated it bless him.
I decided to create this blog as a place to reference useful information that I come across not only for myself but for others as well.
The main topics will most likely revolve around my work (.NET development), my hobby which is photography and autism as my son was diagnosed with ASD at two years old.
Hope you find something useful here.