Children with autism may fight the routine of going to bed and leave you, as parent(s) exhausted, overwhelmed, discouraged and ready to give up! What can be done?
When the individual with autism hears the word bedtime, or is aware that it is time for he or she to go to bed, there can be an extreme sense of anxiety and dread. This can be simplified.
Remember, your child can be taught and disciplined that he or she must follow the rules, routine and be obedient to you, as a parent when it comes to their bedtime.
The first area that might solve this problem, is to remind your child that there will be a set time to go to bed. Simplify that by showing your child a clock or make one and let them see the time by the numbers and hands on the clock that are provided for their bedtime.
Be sure you stick to the time you told your child, it is going to be that set-time, to go to bed. Your child may resist the time you designated, for example 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m. Remember, you as a parent(s) are in charge and you must be firm, even if your child cries, screams, or gives an unacceptable resistance. This can be simplified by not letting your child convince you, that you are wrong and your child is going to have his or her own way.
The other point is, you can be in charge of your child to go to bed, but you are not in charge to make them fall asleep. You must keep your child in his or her room and tell the child to be quiet and not to leave the bedroom, unless it is for the bathroom. This will take patience, practice and consistency. Do not back down from your spoken routine to your child.
If your child decides to leave the bedroom when you have put him or her to bed, do not allow that to happen. Your child must stay in their bedroom to learn that is the place for sleep, when told to go to bed.
You might want to consider placing some soft cuddly toys in the bedroom where your child sleeps, to keep them from wandering around the house, but stick to the schedule and routine you planned.
Allowing your child to stay home from school, because he or she is too tired from not getting sleep from the night before, even though you kept to your schedule, is not a good plan. If you do this, your child will associate staying home from school, doctor appointments and other activities, by not sleeping when put to bed on your schedule that has been designated to your child. The negative routine will continue and your child will be missing many school days and other functions.
Another point to remember to simplify this process is, do not allow your child to take naps, to make up for loss of sleep, because of resisting their bedtime.
Once your child understands bedtime is for sleep and you will not allow them to take charge of you, each day will become easier, and you will sleep better also. This process is simplified each time your child is aware of what bedtime is.
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