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Old 05-06-2008, 08:47 AM
 
Location: Roseville, CA
71 posts, read 306,005 times
Reputation: 35

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I have an 11-year-old son with Asperger's Syndrome who has a very difficult time sleeping. We have tried so many things to help him (short of drugs) and nothing seems to work! I've talked to his doctor (who happens to have an autistic child), and he says that I am putting him to bed too early (8:30). I don't think this is the case, as I've put him to bed later than that, and he still has trouble sleeping. Does anyone have any ideas or success stories they can share which might help him?
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Old 05-06-2008, 09:20 AM
 
Location: St. Louis Metro East
515 posts, read 1,389,947 times
Reputation: 329
Do you have an iron-clad bedtime routine? My son is 14, and we still have to do this. Every child is different, but this is what we have done for years.

About an hour before bedtime, he takes his bath or shower, whatever he's in the mood for. Then, we read a book (or 10... lol) and lastly, he can pick out ONE movie to watch. I will stay in the room with him for a while, to keep him calmed down. When I leave the room, he knows the door is to stay shut, and the light to stay off. He doesn't generally sleep a lot, so our goal is safety and noise control, so everyone else can rest.

Honestly, for about the first year and a half after we started this, we did have to lock his bedroom door at night. Like I said, he still doesn't sleep, but we keep him in the routine every night, so he understands everyone else is trying to sleep.

Hope this helps!

~D
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Old 05-08-2008, 08:41 AM
 
Location: Roseville, CA
71 posts, read 306,005 times
Reputation: 35
jtjmom,

Thanks for replying to my post!

Yes, we have an ironclad bedtime, and I was surprised to see that your son's nightly bedtime routine is virtually the same as my son's! The problem is that even with doing all these things, he still doesn't sleep! I've asked him why he thinks that is, and he has responded with, "I can't turn my brain off." In probing deeper, he says that he has all kind of "ideas", and he thinks about things that scare him. We've been working on the fear issue, partly by running a fan in his room to drown out any noises which may cause him alarm, and partly by talking through the specific fears he thinks about, but he continues to dream up still more things to be afraid of. As far as his "ideas" go, that's where I am really stumped. One of his obsessions is creating video game characters (he wants to be a video game creator when he grows up, and I think he will be excellent at it!), and he says he can't stop thinking them up while he is lying in bed. We've tried counting sheep, extra reading time, and letting him watch some TV with the hopes that these things will distract him from his thoughts so he can sleep. Every now and again one of these things seems to work, but I've noticed that often they work in conjunction with the passage of time. In other words, he finally falls asleep as late as 5:00 am out of sheer exhaustion. Then I get him up at 7:30 for school, and he is sluggish, emotional and has dark circles under his eyes. I feel so badly for him, but I can't let him stay home from school just because he didn't sleep the night before.

After writing this all out, I realize that my true frustration for him is that I can't figure out a way to help him turn his brain off at night. Any ideas?

DR
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Old 05-09-2008, 10:15 PM
 
Location: St. Louis Metro East
515 posts, read 1,389,947 times
Reputation: 329
That sounds so familiar... except you may be shedding light on my problems as well, as my son is non-verbal (deafness and autism). He only sleeps an average of 5 hours every other day, and does not communicate well. He must be very lonely where he is...

Unfortunately, the not being able to turn off the brain is part and parcel of the autism spectrum. Along with the creativity and genius it tends to bring, the uncontrollability factor tags along.

Is your son tactile-sensitive? Are there things that tend to calm him some? Deep tissue massage has helped my boy a bit with overstim issues, though I realize AS is a much higher functioning disorder. I just wonder if many of the same techniques would be equally as effective?

Good luck, and let me know if anything helps!

~D
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Old 05-12-2008, 10:46 AM
 
4 posts, read 30,541 times
Reputation: 16
My son has AS and I guess we're lucky. He always goes right to bed and only rarely calls me to say that he cannot sleep- he says his brain won't be quiet and that he doesn't know how to go to sleep. Having 5,000 stuffed animals and the blanket tightly around him helps too, I think. If your son likes the tactile feeling (thanks, jtj) of being wrapped up, maybe try a body-hugging sleeping bag in bed.
I always tell him he doesn't have to go to sleep- but that he does have to keep his eyes closed. (That works for me....even when my brain "won't be quiet," as long as I keep my eyes closed- the next thing I know, it's morning.)Just think about your legos and video games......and he always seems to fall asleep.

Dyane- my son's obsession is also video games, from the time he was 2! He's 9 and taking a computer class this summer where they'll get to create a game. He's so excited.

Good luck-

LK
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Old 05-12-2008, 01:57 PM
 
Location: St. Louis Metro East
515 posts, read 1,389,947 times
Reputation: 329
We used to do the sleeping bag thing, too! I forgot about that!

It's so nice to talk about these things and not ahve people think you're crazy, or an awful mom!

~D
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Old 05-12-2008, 03:16 PM
 
4 posts, read 30,541 times
Reputation: 16
Lol! The trick is to not give a damn what anyone else thinks as long as it benefits your child! I try to be calm when explaining *why* we do certain things in a certain way but I only have so much patience for that, lol. I always hear "He just seems so normal!" "You'd never know!"
Yup. That's why it's called high-functioning....you just don't see all of the social probs or obsessions or cognitive bits....but those are his quirks that make him special. We all have our little quirks- our so-called normal ones are just more accepted, eh?

LK
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