May
31
2011

Aspergers: How Sleep Helps

by Kimberlee Stokes Affiliate Link Disclosure B

Children with Aspergers deal with many issues.   Last week I talked about Sensory Issues and an area that is directly affected by these issues is the quality and quantity of sleep a child with Aspergers gets.

Medical studies indicate that sleep disorders are more common among children with Aspergers as opposed to their typically-developing peers and that children with Aspergers have a more challenging time both falling asleep and waking up.  With these inherent difficulties, it is even more important to make sleep a priority for both the child and parent.

Here are just a few of the ways sleep helps:

Happier Mom- The amount of sleep I get is directly proportional to the amount of stress I can cope with as I parent two special needs children.  There are times when I think staying up late to watch a movie or surf the web is great stress relief, but I always pay for it the next day.  I am more easily irritated by my children’s issues and much less patient with them.

Increased Tolerance Level- The sensory issues associated with Aspergers make every day life difficult, but with a good night’s sleep my children’s tolerance level for dealing with these issues is increased.  They are less sensitive to noise, temperature and other sensory input and they are better able to cope when something does bother them. They are also less likely to fixate on a particular problem.

Fewer Melt Downs- As a result of my children’s increased tolerance level, I see a dramatic decrease in the amount of melt downs my children experience when they are well rested.  Lack of sleep equals a day filled with temper tantrums and frustration for the entire family.

There are days when circumstances result in less sleep for my children.  When that happens we adjust our expectations for the day (It’s not a good day to teach a new math topic for example or to address minor discipline issues.) and we try to go to bed early that evening.

  

Next week I’ll share with you some ways we get a better night’s sleep.


You May Also Like:

Aspergers: Help in the Middle of A Meltdown

My Top Five Ways to Deal With Stress

Aspergers: Adjusting After Vacation

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Teresa May 27, 2012 at 6:56 pm

My son(yes he has Asperger’s) is now 11 and we learned years ago that bed time starts at 7:00PM. He must go to his room and read or be quite. This helps so much he stays up some nights but it is the nights he needs to calm him self. This also gives me my time. He is never asleep before 9:00 yet he no longer sleep walks or screams because the blankets are scratching him. It took years of not being able to sleep for me to learn I am not the only one who needs wind down time.

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Ana December 29, 2012 at 11:51 pm

My 5 yo daughter has PDD-NOS and we’ve had our share of sleep issues as well. For a long time, I gave her liquid melatonin extract (sometimes, an extra dose was needed for 3 am wakings). She, too, needs a couple of hours alone in her room, talking, soothing herself to sleep. But it’s gotten much, much better and she rarely needs melatonin now, only if she’s off track due to routine changes.

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Kimberlee December 30, 2012 at 12:17 am

I am so glad she is doing better. We use magnesium to help with sleep issues.

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Laura May 24, 2013 at 10:01 pm

you describe my life with this words.

my child is in borderline of spectrum. and when I read you post is like my story.

Do you post updates about your child? family. because autism is all the family evolved.

He is 19 months. from birth I knew it he was different.
I feel my stomach empty when I think when he will call me “mom” he never call me mom. he started speak some word. hope heard mom some day soon.

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Leece July 21, 2013 at 6:05 pm

As a behavior consultant (who is working on becoming a BCBA) who lived in a house with two people who are on the ASD (one now in his 60s the other now in his pre-teens), I saw from the outsiders point of view how INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT a sleep schedule is. any scheduling is important! When clinicians are working on the diagnosis of an ASD (such as Aspergers), and they are now diagnosing based on the criteria of the DSM 5 (it’s the bible of mental disorders according to the American Psych Association, better known as the APA), is the questions of, “What is yours childs sleep patterns?”

Time and time again the sleep patterns of kiddos on the spectrum, especially when going through different growth spurts or a change in life (new room, new sibling, death of a family member, missing toy, parent gone on a work trip, etc.), seem to be erratic and ‘unusual’ in nature. The simplest way I can explain this, as an outsider who does not have kids, is to say that the way their brains are wired are different than ours.

You and I have what is labled as ‘nuero-normal’ brains meaning that our neurological wiring is ‘normal’ or is functioning the way scientists believe it should. The kiddos on the spectrum, however, have different wiring. Look at your dryer. You may have a three or four prong outlet and the wiring will be different if you have a three prong as opposed to four prong. It doesn’t matter which one you have, your dryer is still working. If you move one of the wires or switch them around, then the dryer may not work OR worse off, a fire may start. That’s whats going on in the kiddos heads – an over stimulated brain! And night time, for whatever reason, seems to be key time for the brain to over stimulate instead of relax and recharge (like our brains try to do).

If your kiddo is having sleepy probs – do some sort of modifcations – but be sure to communicate with everyone on the team (your spouse, your other kids, anyone else in the house, your kiddos school people, your BC, your ST, your OT…) that way everyone can observe the changes.

Remember, you THE PARENT you know your kid best! You know when something is up. No matter what the pros say, YOU know your kid! Go with your gut. Go with your heart. Don’t back down – keep on pushin’!

It’s only temporary (I know, it doesn’t feel like it!)

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Kimberlee July 23, 2013 at 9:28 am

Hi Leece! Thanks so much for the tips and for your encouragement. :)

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