Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 1 Fall 2014 - Page 26

Forty to eighty percent of kids on the spectrum experience some sort of sleep problems. ference. Fabrics like jersey, well-worn cotton or flannel seem to be easier to tolerate for kids with tactile sensitivities. Using unscented detergents, especially for pillowcases, is also a good idea. bient light from the hallway can be helpful for older children and adults. However, younger children may need more light to feel secure sleeping on their own. 9. Routine, routine, routine. This is a 6. Familiar surroundings. Even a slight universal recommendation when it comes change in the sounds, scents or light levto good sleep hygiene, but it’s especially els in a bedroom can make it hard to fall important for autistic individuals. We like asleep. to know what to expect, and our routines make us feel safe and secure. If possible, 7. A quiet environment or consistent incorporate some quiet time spent on a noise. While a TV playing in another special interest (reading, looking at picroom or the dishwasher running in the tures, organizing a favorite collection) as kitchen downstairs may seem insignificant part of the bedtime routine. Special interto the average person, to an autistic child ests are relaxing and help us de-stress in with hypersensitive hearing, it can sound ways that few other activities can. like a deafening roar. While some kids might need near-total quiet to fall asleep, 10. Natural sleep aids. Both melatonin others might do better with a consistent and Epsom salts baths can be helpful for sound, like white noise or a repetitive na- those who have difficulty falling asleep or ture sound (running water, wind, waves). staying asleep. Both are available over the counter, but as with any supplement or 8. A dark room. For autistic children who medication, it’s important to consult with are light sensitive, the street light seeping your child’s doctor before starting the use in around the window shades can feel as of a melatonin supplement, especially if bright as daylight. Blackout shades and your child is being treated for any other closing the bedroom door to block out am- condition or taking any medication. 26 Zoom Autism Through Many Lenses