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Autism and Sleep Issues

Autism and Sleep Issues

I stumbled upon an autism-related article that discussed sleep issues among children with autism.

Got me thinking about my son and sleep.

What’s it like for us?

As far as I’m concerned, even though my son has autism, he’s been a pretty good sleeper for most of his life. Not that we haven’t experienced a night or two, but at sixteen, he’s pretty much figure it out.

First off, as a baby, he started sleeping through the night at four months old. Wow, was I relieved.

So, my son didn’t have those early sleep issues that many children with autism have.

What did we do when he was young?

My son has always slept to an ocean waves noise machine. I had heard that white noise was a good way to help babies sleep. So, I got a CD of ocean waves…and he’s used it ever since! To this very day!

I remember our routine when he was a baby…Walk him in a stroller when it got dark, breast feed him, put him to bed.

He was no longer breast feeding by age one, yet we still tried to do something outdoors with him, give him his bath, and then put him to bed.

For several years, he wanted “mommy” with him while he was settling down. We’d read stories or play some games that we had invented.

A part of me really misses that special time I spent with him.

But, as you can guess, he grew out of needing Mommy with him.

He moved onto…being on his phone.

That created a whole set of new problems.

What about the devices at night?

IMHO, you have to cut them off at a certain time each night. Every single night at the exact same time.

Remember, our kiddos like routines.

And, they need to settle down off-devices.

I don’t remember this transition being challenging for my kid, yet I can confirm that as he’s gotten older, his bedtime has been pushed further and further back.

What’s it like now?

At age sixteen, he can be quite the night owl. If I let him.

He still have a time at night when the phone has be put away, the shower completed, and he’s in bed.

I can’t, at this age, do all that much about helping him fall asleep besides the above.

He still has his ocean waves.

He has to have his room cold. He will sleep with 2-3 fans almost every night. (The fans, by the way, also add a white noise.)

And, it appears as if he’s not the type that requires a lot of sleep. I have seen him many times go to bed late and be up for something the next morning.

Yes, like a typical teenager, he’ll take those extra hour(s) when he can get them.

But, I think he’s the type that when he’s awake, he has to get out of bed. His mind begins to go and sleep is officially over.

What does all of this mean?

It can be quite a challenge for any of us to figure out how to shut off our minds and go to sleep at night.

Add on the fact that an individual has autism, their mind may be racing, their bodies un-regulated, and they may even have some anxiety about getting sleep (I know a kid who gets worried that they won’t get enough sleep, and that keeps them up at night!)

I know my son has his “bad” nights, but for the most part I think he’s doing okay with sleeping. I look out for issues relating to him not getting enough sleep. It’s a worry, but I think overall he’s doing okay.

It’s much harder for other kids, of course. And, I don’t have too many answers for them. Autism and Sleeping Disorders or some type of sleep issue are, I believe, fairly common.

Hopefully, they’re issues that are workable. Or, hopefully a family can seek help.

Either way, we all have to sleep.

Autism and Sleep Issues.


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