It’s too early!

It’s too early.

That can’t be the time.

Go back to bed.

It’s still bedtime.

How many hours of sleep have I had?

It’s not even morning yet.

If you’re a parent or carer I can almost guarantee at some point in your life some of, maybe all of, these thoughts have crossed your mind.

Having a child who gets up in the night or early in the morning can be very challenging, especially if they’re reliant on you being up with them…

It can take it’s toll on the whole family. It may cause tension in your household, your relationship with your spouse may suffer, your work may be more challenging, your other children may be exhausted.

Many parents and carers I’ve worked with have shared their difficulties with this, but not known how to get out of this pattern. Dealing with sleep challenges in autistic children is a very different task and can seem a lot less straight forward than if you were facing this with a typically developing child.

But it all comes down to understanding your child and their needs.

For example, years back I worked with a consultant who studied sleep patterns in autistic children. Together we were working with a young boy who was waking up around 3/4am each morning. He’d be hugely disruptive and shout until his mum or dad were up with him, often waking up everyone in the house including his younger brother.

The parents said “It doesn’t make sense. He can’t be getting enough sleep.”

To which the consultant replied, “Well we don’t know that for sure. His 7 hours may be good quality sleep and mean that he is getting enough, despite what recommended sleep guidelines say.”

That’s something we can all relate to I’m sure you’ve woken up before and felt like you had a ‘really good sleep’ (perhaps not so recently!)

We identified that it was a behaviour issue with this particular child, so we put some strategies in place. In time this child was able to manage his sleep/ awake time by himself until the more appropriate time of 7:15 am.

Once you understand why your child is waking up at silly AM, you can think about which strategies you can put in place for them.

For example;

– Writing a social story. So they understand bedtime / ‘going to sleep.’

– Making a visual timetable. So they learn when they can be up or wake you up.

– Use sleep training resources. Such as a Gro Clock. To help them see clearly when they can get up.

– Setting up a reward chart. So they’re motivated to follow their new routine.

– Altering their bed time. If you think your child may not be tired when you put them down to bed.

– Give them some “Morning tasks”. Think fun rather than taxing things they may need your help with.

– Make sure their sensory needs are met. Do they need a new heavier duvet, seamless pyjamas or a dimmer night light to help them sleep better?

Next week I will be making a video for parents and carers inside the ‘Unlimited Autism Success Inner Circle’ explaining exactly how they can put these strategies into practise with their children.

So if you want more advice on sleep, sensory sensitivities and understanding your child’s individual needs better then click below to join…

Click here to become a member and for more information about the ‘Unlimited Autism Success Inner Circle.’

Speak with you soon until then,

Live every moment, Love beyond words and make a difference today

Emma Ottaway

The Ambitious Autism Ambassador