Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Autism and sleep troubles
There seems to be a connection between autism and sleep disorders. Based on doing research on the internet and talking with parents of autistic children, sleeping seems to be more difficult for autistic children as their patterns are opposite to normal developing children. I speak from personal experience as our son has difficulty going to sleep at bedtime regularly. We start the process of getting our son to go to sleep at 8:30 pm and he fights it though he knows he should be going to sleep. Sometimes it takes up to 2 hours to get him to fall asleep and that is with constant supervision. We have many theories as to why he does not like to sleep and I believe part of it has to do with his seizure disorder. The other reason is that autistic children process things differently and are usually very active and to them sleep may seem to be too restraining and requires total stillness which is hard to conform to when the children are so full of energy. My son is very active and he seems to never tire. He fights off sleep for as long as he can until he finally gives in and magically falls asleep.
He takes medicine at night for his epilepsy and for his autism so we are not keen on also tranquilizing him to help him sleep. I am very leary of medicine being used as the solution all the time. We need him to continue on the antiseizure medicine to help prevent seizures so it is a bit scary if our child is prescribed additional medications. I've seen what medication can do as I lost my mother at a young age due to her being over medicated. We lost our mother way too soon because she was prescribed all types of medication to help her with her chemical imbalance but it robbed her of her personality and her will.
Based on my interest in finding natural ways to help promote sleep for my son I came across an article on the internet explaining the benefits of a cup of warm milk and honey before bedtime as one of the best things to give your child or anyone who has difficulty sleeping. It seems to have a calming effect and it is a very healthy combination that offers so many health benefits including peaceful sleep. We have been giving our son a cup right before bedtime just recently and are seeing a difference already as it seems to help him relax and slow down so he can gradually fall asleep. He also loves the taste of it and says it is "nature's milkshake" made by cows and bees and that is why it is so good. The phrase "land of milk and honey" comes to mind for me. I have tried it as well and I find it is very tasty and healthy to drink and it does certainly have a calming effect.
On a side note my son has been pretty well informed with current events and he and I are concerned for the plight of the honey bee since they are nature's workers and they play such a vital role in honey and fruit production. They are amazing with all they create and we are losing them at alarming rates. We do rely on them in our everyday life and must help save them. One of my son's favorite movies is the Bee movie which is a very cute movie that the whole family enjoys.
I believe that if we reinforce good sleep habits with our son and maybe allow him to have a tv in his room and we give him his favorite drink of warm milk and honey at bedtime he will finally start sleeping at a more tolerable hour at night and get the much needed rest he deserves.
I am not sure why autistic children have so many quirks with their everyday living but we should always support them and try our best to help them in every way we can and never lose hope. We must be strong and a positive influence in their life and we must have dedication and a great deal of patience and show them how they should conduct themselves in their everyday life.
Dedicated to my son Matthew who inspires us everyday!
Edward D. Iannielli III