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Help your child with autism sleep better

Autism is a condition where the individual has difficulties in social interaction and communication. This can affect their functioning in numerous ways, one of the main ones being difficulty in sleeping. According to reports, over 80% of children with autism have sleeping difficulties. They might face restlessness or poor sleep quality, difficulty in falling asleep and waking up early and frequently to name a few of the problems.

Researchers have not yet found out the real reason why children with autism have sleeping difficulties. But they have come up with varied interpretations. Parents are the real saviours to their children. With the right guidance, children with autism can have a good night's sleep.

Sherin Mary who has autism is a writer who has published her books of stories and poems. Mary's mother Sangeetha remembers that her daughter had sleep problems. But with the right guidance, Sangeetha could help her daughter.

My daughter faced a lot of sleeping problems. Being a working mother, it was extremely hard for me to handle it. That is when her doctor suggested to undergo a lot of physical activities. Sensory integration has also helped a lot. Massages are a good way to relax children with autism. If they love dance and music, ensure that they engage more in it. My daughter always loved the world of books and literature. So I used to read out stories to her which was also relaxing- Sangeetha, Parent of child with autism

Here are some tips to help your child with autism have a good night's sleep

  • Avoid sugar and caffeine- We all know that caffeine contains ingredients that makes you stay awake. That is precisely the reason why people drink a lot of coffee while working. Some children might prefer drinking a cup of coffee before going to sleep. If your child has autism, make sure that they stop this habit today! Similarly, most Indian homes serve sweets after dinner. Do not give them sweets, chocolates or ice-creams during bed time. It only makes them stay up late.
  • Say no to gadgets- Most of us watch movies before going to bed. You either use your TV or mobile phones for that. The blue light from your mobile screens can cause permanent damage to your eyes. It is even worse for a child who has autism. Experts have pointed out this same blue light affects your ability to sleep. Hence, keeping you awake for a longer time. So if your child prefer watching some videos, playing on the phone or watching a movie before going to sleep, make sure they stop the habit soon.
  • Put heavy curtains in your room- This will ensure that minimal light enters the room. Experts have pointed out that the more a room is darker, the more a person tends to sleep faster. So if your room has a lot of lighting, reduce it. You can cover this with heavy curtains and thick carpeting. The temperature of your room must also fit with your child's sensory needs.
  • Help them relax- As a parent, you will know what help to relax your child best. Some children might like being read out a story while some others prefer some music. Engaging in these activities during bed time might help them sleep better.

Grace Santosh, a psychologist from Chennai, has a teenage son with autism.

"Make sure that you talk only positive things to them so that they are not stressed out. I make sure that my son does not have caffeine products or even chocolates after 7 pm. He also follows a daily routine of sleeping at 10 pm, and all our phones are on silent mode after that. He also does occupational therapy and exercises that makes him tired and go to sleep. Now, my son has a good night's sleep", says Grace Santosh, Parent of child with autism

ALSO READ: Some tips to help boost self-esteem of a child with autism

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