Monday, July 5, 2010

No Rest for the Weary

Sleep is remaining elusive for us.  Our supervising psychologist has us writing a sleep log.  We removed Alanna's toddler bed and replaced it with a form mat on the floor.  Last night she was up at 4:30am and did not return to sleep.  The night before, she was up from 2:30am to 5:00am, bouncing and screaming on her bed, and ditto the night before.

Tyler's room is beside hers.  I don't know how he sleeps through it.  I do know, however, that everyone, including Alanna, is in a fantastic mood when she sleeps through the night.  Tyler is happier and so are we.  Alanna is taking 9mg of melatonin at night (two doses, one given only if she wakes), plus she is on the swing to put her down at night.  The next most unhappy step will be to visit the doctor and put her on a sedative, but I really, really, really want to avoid that.  The girl is two years old and I don't want to drug her unless we get desperate.

We will be trying to adjust her sleep routine with music and calming lights on her walls; I am hoping this helps.  For those parents with kids with autism or intellectual disability, I know this is a common problem.  I have read countless pleas for help on-line and some kids just do not sleep.  So here's a plea... help.

1 comment:

    "The Fabric of Autism," by Judith Bluestone

    I wrote this two years ago after a workshop:

    Individuals with asd often have little to no sense of proprioception, no sense of where they are in space, and they compensate for that lack of proprioception by using their vision to tell them where they are in space. One evidence of this idea is that sometimes our asd children
    have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, because when they close their eyes, they're shutting off their most relied upon sense as a
    substitute for a lack of proprioception. In other words, when they shut their eyes, they lose the sense of where they are. The issue is a problem with integration. Muscle tone, vestibular, sight, taste, touch,tactile, proprioception, hearing etc are all interrelated in development and when development is lopsided, we see all sorts of challenges and compensations in the children. Sleep issues can be a problem if underwired or miswired sensory neurology.

    These children often sleep FINE as long as hey're NEXT TO someone -- because they use the other person as a reference point to tell them
    where they are in space when they shut their eyes. Our HANDLE presenter suggested using another sense at bedtime. One idea was lavendar in a vaporizer (I have not tried that, use at your own risk).

    A body pillow may be helpful for sleep if the child is able to reference where they are by being next to the pillow. The child must be old enough to have a pillow - ask your doctor (I am not one and this is not medical advice).

    The HANDLE program is a sensory integration approach which addresses the lopsidedness (lack of integration) of those sensory issues. A HANDLE
    assessment would give you clues into whether an integration problem is contributing to behaviors like hyperactivity, sound sensitivity, meltdowns (really FLARE UPs), sleep problems, you name it, it might be a puzzle piece of underdeveloped integration. So, the HANDLE program teaches parents to utilize a series of activities designed at neurological integration. Parents also learn to observe "state changes", physiological changes observable from the outside, that let parents know that the child is experiencing the early signs of a "flare up", and
    HANDLE incorporates "Gentle Enhancement," gently strengthening systems that are not under stress. (HANDLE says a stressed system cannot be

    I have to admit I am looking at my children from a very new perspective since the training--and I really like the term "flare up" instead of
    "meltdown" or "tantrum". An inability to fall asleep or stay asleep could be a sensory "flare up", and if supplements like melatonin aren't
    working, a program like HANDLE might be something to consider.

    this post is for your research only.

    Penny - who is just a mom -- this is not professional advice.