Setting up a bed time routine for your autistic child

Setting up a positive bed time routine…

Sounds simple right?

Well, the good news is it can be.

Setting up a positive bedtime routine for your child could be a case of tweaking a few things here and there. But it could also mean big changes and new strategies to put in place.

Either way, I’m here to help.

First things first… Look at what your child is doing before bed. This includes what they’re watching, playing, eating and drinking.

Do you need to cut down on some of these things?

For example, if your child is playing on their iPad, then having a small cup of hot chocolate before bed then these are things you might want to change.

Computer / iPad type games before bed are said to stimulate brain activity and could be part of the reason your child is struggling to sleep.

Caffeinated foods and drinks are also something that will cause your child to be more alert.

If you think these type of things will be hard to cut back on, why not give them earlier in the afternoon, so your child isn’t missing out.

Another thing you may want to look at before you set up your child’s bed time routine is their sleeping environment.

What does it have in it? How dark is it? Does it meet their sensory needs? What temperature is it?

Your child’s bedroom should be a calm area that invites them in to sleep. I’ve worked with a few families now who do not have any toys in their child’s bedroom at all. They keep it minimalistic to encourage a good nights sleep rather than play time. These families all say they saw positive results.

So now it’s time to set up your child’s bedtime routine.

As you may know, most children with autism respond well to routines. The familiarity can help ASD children feel safe and in control along with many other benefits. Your child may respond well to a visual routine better than one given verbally. Think about your child’s individual needs and adapt the routine to them.

Next set up a regular dinner time lets say, 5:45/ 6 pm

– Alter this to whatever time works for your family, although try to keep it as early as possible to avoid discomfort in digesting their food properly before they get ready for bed.

After dinner, 6:15/ 6:30 pm begin wind down or quiet time.

– Avoid computer/ iPad games and TV during this time. This could be a time for them to prepare for the next day, i.e. get uniform ready, or their bag packed.

Now 6:45/ 7 pm give any drinks you usually would to your child. Avoid caffeinated or sugary drinks.

Next around 7:15/ 7:30 pm begin bath time and brushing teeth.

7:45/ 8:00 pm bed time.

Depending on the age of your child you may want to schedule in some more down time after their bath before they go to sleep. This could involve relaxation methods like gentle aromatherapy, massage, calming music or just quiet time in their room.

Try out some of these techniques and see how you get on. It’s a good idea to keep a sleep diary at the early stages so you can keep track of what’s worked well or what hasn’t been so useful.

Later this week I’ll be sharing more strategies to help your child to sleep well throughout the night and get up at an appropriate time.

For more tips on getting the very best from your child with autism, understand their needs better, work through tough challenges and support them in their development join the ‘Unlimited Autism Success Inner Circle’

Click here for more information and to join

Speak with you soon until then,

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

Emma Ottaway

The Ambitious Autism Ambassador