How To Help Children With Autism Follow Successful Bedtime

How to Help Children with Autism Follow Successful Bedtime Routines

Regardless of age, good bedtime routines are important. They help students
fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up in the morning rested and ready for a
successful day at school.

Unfortunately, a number of our students on the autism spectrum (and many
other students, too) have difficulty establishing a good sleep habit. There
will be lots of individual differences in sleep patterns, but working toward
following a consistent evening routine can help achieve success. Here’s

Make it a priority. People more commonly create a morning routine. Getting
ready for bed at night can easily become a much less structured, much more
hurried part of the day. It is important to dedicate the time necessary to
follow a successful routine.

How much sleep? First determine how much sleep a child needs. A good test is
to observe what happens during the summer or on a weekend when there is no
specific time to get up. Some simple math will tell you what time he or she
needs to go to bed.

Keep in mind that when there are multiple children in the family, their sleep
needs may be very different. One of the most difficult challenges teachers
can have at school is trying to teach children who have not gotten enough
sleep last night.

Make a list: Create a list of everything that needs to be done as a part of
getting ready for bed. Be sure to include all the things that are a
necessary part of the evening. Here are some possibilities.

Traditional go-to-bed activities
– Have a snack
– Take off clothes
– Put dirty clothes in the hamper
– Take a bath
– Wash hair
– Brush teeth
– Put PJs on
– Go to the bathroom
– Find favorite sleep blanket or animal
– Set the alarm
– Say prayers
– Read a book
– Sing a song
– Turn on music
– Go to sleep

Here are more options that become a part of ending the day
– Check the calendar
– Get clothes ready for tomorrow
– Find things you need to take to school
– Get backpack ready for the morning
– Check lunch menu
– Pack lunch

Now an important question. How much time will it take? What you begin to
discover is that you really have an “ending the day” routine. It may not
be just about going to bed. So the critical question. . . .how much time
will it take? Realistically.

And here’s the problem. It probably takes more time than you think. One
important factor is the age and capability of the student. How much is he
able to do independently? Or how much “teaching time” do you need so
that she can learn to become independent with the tasks involved.

Now you can develop a routine. Kids LOVE routines. They thrive on routines.
A regular nightly routine helps them learn to be sleepy. A good evening
routine also helps students have good feelings. It creates a sense of
security and control.

Winding down: Try to sequence the evening activities so they will gradually
wind down and create a sense of calm. That is why bathing near the end can
be a good idea. Soft music, lights down, massage or other calming activities

Let your child know the routine. A visual schedule of end of day activities
is a perfect tool to guide children through the necessary steps. Sometimes
people put “go to bed” on a daily schedule. That is OK, but creating a
“mini-schedule” of all those end of day activities will help establish a
consistent routine.

Be a time keeper. Try using a visual timer to let kids know how much time
each activity can take. That will prevent the procrastinators from
succeeding. Sticking to a time limit is important in the evening, so that
your timing goals can be reached.

Simple steps with great results. How children handle the day can be directly
related to what kind of a night they had last night. Spend some time in the
evening getting ready for the morning. Then take steps to help get a good
night’s sleep. These are two important steps toward having a good day

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