Donna Williams, who has written extensively about living with ASD, describes her fear of falling asleep in her autobiographies:
Sleep was not a secure place. Sleep was a place where darkness ate you alive. Sleep was a place without colour or light. In the darkness you could not see your reflection. You couldn’t get ‘lost’ in sleep. Sleep just came and stole you beyond your control. Anything that robbed me of total control was no friend of mine.
- Somebody somewhere, Donna Williams
I was afraid to sleep, always had been. I would sleep with my eyes open and I did this for years. I guess I did not appear to be terribly normal. ‘Haunting’ or ‘haunted’ would have been better adjectives. I was afraid of the dark, though I loved the early dawn and dusk.
- Nobody nowhere, Donna Williams
Establish a sleep routine
Create a routine that you can use every day and anywhere. For e.g., if you make playing on a particular climbing frame part of the routine, this will be a problem if you stay overnight somewhere else.
You can also make this a visual routine by writing it out.
Keep a sleep diary
Keep track of the time of sleep and number of nighttime awakenings. This will allow you to become aware of patterns and environmental situations that may contribute to sleeping problems. You can also make changes and assess their effectiveness, and show the diary to professionals
Change your child's diet
Suddenly changing your child's diet may be stressful and if your child is used to having certain drinks or snacks near bedtime, suddenly switching to something different may be counterproductive. However, you could try changing to decaffeinated versions or reduce food that could be causing wind in the tummy
You can do a whole host of things. Calming music, a massage, T.Jacket use before bedtime, lavender oil in the shower, gentle exercise and play, or perhaps in some cases, rough and tumble play.
Each x3: Lie on bed with child, lie on floor on a mattress next to bed, lie on floor on mattress nearer the door, sit by the door with door open, leave the door open but don't sit, close door.
Ensure your child is sleepy at bedtime
Restrict naps in the afternoon. If your child lies awake in the middle of the night, bring him/her to another room till he/she gets sleepy.
Talk to a sleep psychologist about bright-light therapy. Exposing the child to periods of bright light in the morning may help regulate the body's release of melatonin.
Do you face the same problems too? What do you do? Let us know! :)