Special Needs

ASD-sleeping issues

I posted a few times before, as we suspect my 22 month old dtr is on the spectrum. She has always been a terrible sleeper but lately its started to escalate and I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions?

Typical sleep pattern is 11:30pm - 12:30am falls asleep, up by 8:30am, wakes between 5-6am and wants a bottle (the only time we oblige because if we don't she simply won't go back to sleep). Will only nap in the daytime if she is in the car going for a ride, and then it must be after 5pm and I try to have her back up by 6:30 at the latest.

If I put her down for a nap in her pack and play during the day and I am visible she will scream/tantrum non stop. If I leave the room and am out of her sight she will sit and play with her hands and talk to herself until I return...and this can go on for hours. I have tried numerous times to get a good routine but it doesn't seem to matter to her, and I feel horrible just letting her sit alone in a pack and play for 2 hours when shes not going to nap anyway. Especially now knowing that I need to try and engage her as much as possible.

Knowing now that sleep issues can be related to ASD I was wondering if anyone here had advice as to what I could do to help her out? The other evening she didn't fall asleep until 2:30am and was back up at 8am and thats just no good for anyone....her or us.

Re: ASD-sleeping issues

  • I mainly have a hug and an understanding ear. Right Hug

    Ds has sleep issues too, however he has been taking clonidine at night to help  put him to sleep. It only lasts for 6 hrs, so often he wakes up aroung 4am. However, he is in a sleeping tent that he can't get out of and since he is happy, I don't go in to him. He sometimes falls back asleep, and sometimes he doesn't. He just babbles and talks to himself until it's time to get up, which is 6:30am. So yes, sometimes he's awake in his bed for over 2 hrs, but I need my sleep and he is still resting. If he gets really upset and is crying I'll get him up, but if not I leave him alone.

    Maybe take out the 5pm nap? We've just taken out our son's nap - he's 4 - and he now sleeps until 5:30/6 most days.

    I am sorry you are dealing with sleep issues, I find everything harder to deal with when I'm tired!

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  • I can't address the ASD, but DS has many sensory issues (which I know often goes hand in hand with ASD) which made going to sleep difficult.  We handled that by

    1) Drawing the shades in his room so there were no flickering lights of cars, etc. (also cut down on outside noise)

    2) Having a white noise machine

    3) He slept better when he had a heavy quilt-like blanket.  I'm not sure if that is a good choice for your DC yet, but he slept better when he had some "weight" on himself.


    image "Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.
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  • Hugs! I know how difficult sleep issues can be. DD, who has ASD, has had major sleep issues. Since birth really. She seems to need less sleep than most kids and has difficulty settling down. At least a few times a year she stays up for 24-36 hours at a time. 

    Only advice I have is do what works for you and your family. Sleep training didn't help DD. We have a routine that works for us that most families wouldn't tolerate. I bath her at 8 pm and do our bedtime routine. Then I lay down with her (she's in a double bed) until she is in a deep sleep. This takes anywhere from 30 min to 3 hours. Average is an hour now.  When she wakes at 4 am I go in and sleep with her until she wakes up, usually about 8-9 am. 

    Again, this wouldn't work for a family where both parents have to be out of the house by a certain time, kids in daycare, etc. It works for us. I have found sleep begets sleep. Get the nap in anyway you can. Drive her in the car, push her in the stroller, etc. Co-sleeping saved our lives when DD was younger. Good luck to you! 

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  • I appreicate the responses ladies!

    I have been operating on "whatever works" forever now. She sleeps in her pack and play at night, I know EI/HMG kind of side eyed my repsonses to their sleep questions, but what else can I say? After 2 years of not sleeping through the night, no reliable naps etc. and no sleep training/special method works, wtf do you do?

    I have noticed lately that the more tired she becomes, the wilder she becomes. She'll try to get me to chase and tickler her, and also just run back and forth like shes doing anything to keep from sleeping. She hates blankets, and if I try to get her to lay down with me/dh she laughs and jumps all over our bed like its a game or kicks me in the ribs. Since DH is 2nd shift and I only work a few days a week, either on first or third shift, I can accomadate the madness better than most folks who have a strict schedule could, but its still maddening.

    My friend who has a son 2 days older than dd has slept from 7p-7a and taken faithful naps since he came home from the hospital (he was a super premie and was in the nicu for 2 months). She used to complain that she hated having to end hernight early so that DS could sleep, and then when he went down to 1 nap from 2 naps. DD has never ever ever entertained 2 naps in her life. She used to co-sleep with us, but now she hates that. I regret wanting her to transition to her crib now... I would do anything for her to WANT to be with us.

  • If she gets wilder the more tired she gets....maybe more her bedtime earlier by 1/2 hour? 

    Also, do you do "calming" activities 1/2 hour before bedtime?  Like reading a book, bath....no electronics or physical games.

    DS had a hard time sleeping...I purchased a "dream catcher" for him (available at flea markets) and it seemed to calm his anxiety about going to sleep.  Also, I lay down next to him (although you noted that doesn't work for you).

    To get DD to stay in her bed, we purchased sheets with Disney characters and told her it was the "princess bed."  She seemed to like the transition to bed with that!

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