As a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, one issue you have likely run into is trying to get your child to sleep well. Trouble falling asleep, as well as staying asleep, tends to be one of the many common shared experiences between children with autism. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to help your child with autism get better sleep. One of the best ways is to schedule calming activities for your child with ASD strategically to help them sleep more soundly.
Pay attention to how your child responds to normal nighttime practices, such as bath time, brushing their teeth, or changing clothes. A lot of these things are very normal for children to do right before they go to bed, but for children on the autism spectrum, they can be overstimulating or causes for anxiety. Consider taking care of bedtime habits that are more like “chores” earlier in the evening and leave the last couple hours of the night devoted to relaxing activities that will help your child with ASD sleep.
Drawing is a beneficial activity for children with autism at any point in the day due to how it can promote creativity, hand-eye coordination, and help with social interaction when done in groups. The act of drawing also has a notable calming effect that makes it a good activity to schedule right before bedtime. Some studies have even likened it to meditation since it requires focus and distracts from distressing thoughts or sensory inputs.
This is an example of an activity that you can strategically plan earlier on in the day before your child has . The goal is to hit the sweet spot of time in the day where you can have your child get their hyper energy out of their system without there being leftover stimulation when it’s time to sleep. Whether it’s going to the playground before bath timedav during the summer or playing a Wii Sports game during the winter, getting your child moving early on will help them feel ready for sleep at bedtime.
Read a Book
Reading a book to your child with ASD is a quiet, soothing activity that is a cliché for a reason. Listening to a story is a great way to tune out distractions or distressing sensory stressors while following along with a story. This activity is also known to build bonds between parents and children while also boosting language development.
Putting puzzles together tends to be a great activity for children with autism for developing problem-solving skills, social interaction, and focused attention. All of these things also make this activity ideal for calming down before bedtime. Everything about completing a puzzle is quiet and it is a good way to help your child feel grounded.
If you are still trying to figure out a bedtime routine that works well for your child with autism, try introducing these activities into their schedule on a routine basis. Once you discover a routine that works for you, your child will be well on their way to more restful nights.
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