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Sleeping Suggestions To Teach A Bedtime Routine/ASD

Updated on August 9, 2016

Parents of children that have just been diagnosed with autism go through a lot of stress and having an idea where to start while waiting for other pieces to get into place could help them with their overall family dynamics, and assists them in getting started down a road of progress for their child.

The purpose of the following rows is to offer some ideas for establishing a sleeping routine as they are presented in Susan Larson Kidd's book - My Child Has Autism, Now What?

The book presents 10 steps to help parents to assist their children in such matters as sleeping, eating, creating routines, incorporating sensory integration strategies.


1. Begin at the same time each evening with a phrase you will use further to cue the routine.

Goal: The child will be able to do the routine independently when he hears the cuing phrase. Routine is important as it helps the brain retrain itself to get ready for recurring daily events.

2. Place a visual schedule of photos or pictures in the bathroom or bedroom. Use phrases such as: "Let's check the schedule!" and then point to the top picture asking such questions as: "What is first?", "What it is next?" in order to teach the use of the visual routine schedule.

3. Have the child put each visual in the All done envelope when he has completed all the tasks. The "sleep" visual will be added in the envelope with finished tasks when he wakes up in the morning. This should help teaching him a complete cycle.

4. Don't reload the visual schedule in front of him but when he is not around and have it ready by bedtime each evening.


- put on some calming music ten minutes before established bedtime every night and try to respect the same schedule for a month

- noise, repetitive environmental sounds, or the sound of the fan could also work

- placing a heavy blanket over the child while he falls asleep will help him relax by decreasing anxiety and making him feel secure

- burning a candle placed in its jar or votive on a warmer, or using linen sprays or essential oils instead are other ways to help the child relax; it is important though to use a scent consistently at the same time each night

- if music, scents, heavy blankets or routines doesn't work, another option would be supplements such as valerian root, melatonin and others that should be tried after consulting a physician.


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