SAPS 190 – Sleepless on the Spectrum – Suggestions to Help
Posted by: Sue Atkins
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Talking about Homeschooling
Listen to Sue on talkRADIO about school uniforms & kids being sent home.
School sends pupils home for wearing unpolishable shoes, no blazer and old footwear
This Week Sue discusses Sleepless on the Spectrum
“I’m working with an exhausted Mum and Dad around helping them cope with their 7 year old little girl on the spectrum and we were looking at sleep this week”
Researchers don’t know for sure why autistic children have problems with sleep, but they have several theories. The first has to do with social cues. People know when it’s time to go to sleep at night, thanks to the normal cycles of light and dark and the body’s circadian rhythms. But they also use social cues. For example, children may see their siblings getting ready for bed. Children with autism, who often have difficulty communicating, may misinterpret or fail to understand these cues.
Another theory has to do with the hormone melatonin, which normally helps regulate sleep-wake cycles. To make melatonin, the body needs an amino acid called tryptophan, which research has found to be either higher or lower than normal in children with autism. Typically, melatonin levels rise in response to darkness (at night) and dip during the daylight hours. Studies have shown that some children with autism don’t release melatonin at the correct times of the day. Instead, they have high levels of melatonin during the daytime and lower levels at night.
Another reason children with autism may have trouble falling asleep or awaken in the middle of the night could be an increased sensitivity to outside stimuli, such as touch or sound. While most kids continue to sleep soundly while their mother opens the bedroom door or tucks in the covers, a child with ASD might wake up abruptly.
Anxiety is another possible condition that could adversely affect sleep. Children with autism tend to test higher than other children for anxiety.
Not getting a good night’s sleep can have a serious impact on a child’s life and overall health. Research has shown that, in children with autism, there is a connection between lack of sleep and the following characteristics:
Increased behavioral problems
Poor learning and cognitive performance
If your child isn’t sleeping, there’s a good chance you aren’t, either. One study showed that the parents of children with autism sleep less, have poorer sleep quality, and wake up earlier than parents of children without autism.
Apart from the usual – no screens an hour before bed, hot bath, story, winding down …
To prevent sensory distractions during the night, put heavy curtains on your child’s windows to block out the light, install thick carpeting, and make sure the door doesn’t creak. You can also make sure that the temperature of the room and choice of bedding fit with your child’s sensory needs.
Ask your doctor about giving your child melatonin just before bedtime. This dietary supplement is often used as a sleep aid to help people get over jet lag. It may help normalise sleep-wake cycles in autistic children who have sleeping issues, and research done so far finds that it’s safe and effective.
Talk to a sleep psychologist about bright-light therapy. Exposing the child to periods of bright light in the morning may help regulate the body’s release of melatonin by helping them to feel more awake during the day.
Look at the Children’s Sleep Charity as they have lots of resources to help children on the spectrum or children who are not.
These are difficult & unusual times & we need practical tips to handle worry.
Back to A ‘New Normal’- Ways to Cope with Uncertainty – my top 10 suggestions
This week, Sue Chats about Mental health support for new mums
Being a new mum is an exciting time, but it certainly isn’t easy. All new mums experience a mix of emotions and changes as they get used to life with a new baby. Even at the best of times it isn’t unusual to feel low in mood, more anxious or both. Coronavirus has added a whole new thing to deal with. But there are lots of things you can do and support available to help you look after yourself. Remember, looking after your mental health is important for both you and your baby.
Tips for your mental health
Tip #1: Talk about your feelings
Speak to your partner or talk to your friends and family about how you feel, over the phone or in person. You can now meet a limited number of people indoors and outdoors as long as you follow guidance. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support. Talking through your worries can help a great deal.
Tip #2: Sing along
Your baby loves music and singing can help lift your mood too. The Scottish Book Trust have a series of online Book Bug sessions running at the moment. The online sessions have songs, rhymes and dances to get you and your baby moving. There are also calming soothing songs too so you can choose what best suits the mood of you and your baby. Finish off with Storytime and snuggle up to a book.
Tip #3: Rest
Getting enough rest whilst looking after a new baby is so important but it can be really hard to do. If you are ready to accept help from others now that restrictions are easing this can help. So does eating well and trying to sleep when your baby sleeps. These can all make a huge difference to your energy levels.
Tip #4: Take it a day at a time
At the moment it might feel like life is changing rapidly. Try not to spend too much time looking at the news and social media as this can feel overwhelming. Try making a time limit for how much time you spend online and stick to trusted news sources. Scottish Government and NHS Inform provides the latest advice and information about Coronavirus.
Tip #5: Understanding your relationship with your baby
Being a new mum is a journey and life with a new baby changes every day. Your baby is constantly watching and listening to the world around them. Every day they learn something new from you and you will find you learn from them too. As your relationship grows you will find it easier to pick up on your baby’s cues. Talk and touch help your baby feel warm, secure and loved. Ready Steady Baby has lots of advice for getting to know your new baby.
Tip #6: Don’t worry about being a supermum
Mums often put extra pressure on themselves. Try to cut yourself some slack and accept that looking after your baby is a full time job! Everyone in the household may not manage to get all the housework done all the time. As long as your baby is happy and healthy, you are doing a great job.
PARENTING HACKS – TIP 1 OF 40
PARENTING HACKS – TIP 2 OF 40
PARENTING HACKS – TIP 3 OF 40
Children’s wellbeing is closely bound to their parents’ wellbeing & that important person is YOU.
Find out how to improve your wellbeing and, consequently, your children’s.
In this Parental Wellbeing Webinar, I share with you some of the best practices you can encourage in yourself to help improve the wellbeing of the whole family:
· Sharing worries and seeking out support from friends and family
· Living a healthy lifestyle by eating well, exercising, having fun and getting enough sleep
· The importance of ‘Me’ Time ‘We’ Time and ‘Our Time’
· Learning about the 5 pillars to wellbeing & good mental health
· How to handle anger & stress positively.
Don’t Stew – Ask Sue Parenting Q & A
LISTEN TO SUE ANSWER THIS IN THIS WEEK’S PODCAST!
The arrival of a new brother or sister can be unsettling
Getting back to your normal busy morning routine will be difficult,
Months and months of homeschooling and summer holidays, for many children, has meant sleep-ins, flexible schedules and getting away with wearing dirty clothes.
But as parents get ready for the new school term they’re desperately trying to restore all order – which for many means making mornings as stress-free as they possibly can.
Check out Sue’s Back to School Tips ~ Simple Strategies To Get Out The Door Faster, Less Frazzled And Smiling First Thing In The Morning
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