Bedtime can be a stressful time for many children and it is frequently a problem area for parents who are left feeling harrowed by the whole experience of battling with upset children who will not stay in their beds. Autistic children are particularly vulnerable to disturbed sleep and difficulties in getting to sleep in the first place and can frequently develop sleep disorders.
Some autistic children typically do not produce a level of the hormone melatonin at the right time of the day to aid them with feeling sleepy and able to wind down before bed. This can have the consequence that you are effectively trying to persuade a wide awake child that it is time to go to sleep which will never be easy. Problems with understanding why it is time to go to sleep can also arise as the concept of what happens during the day and why can confuse a child with autism. Double beds may help as the child can spread out and get comfortable, and also create an ideal area for relaxing with a parent to read a book or talk.
A routine is always a good idea as autistic children do not benefit from constantly changing daily patterns and definitely have no room for surprises in their lives. Incorporate an effort to wind down with books and maybe music as they head for their beds, and a warm, relaxing bath is also a good idea. Be wary of the potentially negative impact of caffeine, additives and sugar and make sure you avoid these foods and drinks. Keep everything calm as well – an over-stimulated autistic child will not sleep peacefully.
For more information visit the National Autistic Society website and if problems persist to the detriment of the whole family then seek professional medical advice to support you.