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Sudden change at bedtime - please help(3 Posts)
DS is 4.8 and dx with ASD nearly a year ago. It’s not obvious to most in most scenarios. His main issues are around control and anxiety. I’m assuming this is relevant but at this point God only knows.
He’s never been terrible going to bed. We’ve always had to sit in his room, though in the last couple of years mostly out of sight, but we’ve been ok with that. He’s had the occasional night like I’m going to describe but never consistently. Routine is bath, teeth, pjs, two or three stories, cuddle, into bed, look at photos / family videos on parent’s phone for 10-15 mins*, lie down for sleep. He’d take anywhere from 15 mins to an hour to actually fall asleep after this but crucially would lie down nicely in his bed, occasionally ask for a drink or to hold parent’s hand, all fine.
*As at one point pre all this, it seemed DH found it helped settle him generally for bed. It’s now doing fuck all but he’s got it lodged as part of his own routine. We do know it never made any impact on how long it takes him to actually fall asleep normally.
For the last four or five weeks, we have had Jekyll and Hyde at bedtime. All is absolutely fine and dandy, he can be good as gold, until it comes to actually lying down to go to sleep. Suddenly we have had about five weeks and counting of consistent shittery every single night. As soon as he knows it’s time for sleep, we have kicking the wall, rattling his bed guard, kicking his bed end, silly noises, leaning over right into the parent’s face and making silly noises and grins, yoga poses in his bed, climbing out of bed, and plenty of general silliness.
We’ve tried sitting in his line of sight, sitting out of his line of sight, sitting on the bed, positive reinforcement (lots), negative reinforcement (resorted to - favourite game deleted off the iPad, a missed small trip out for ice cream), being boring and not reacting. We do no screens after tea, apart from when he looks at the photos. He mentioned one night about being afraid of the dark so we added another nightlight (he already has one plus low fairy lights so it’s nicely dim but not dark, and it’s been this way since Christmas). Nothing. Works. His younger sibling sleeps on the other side of his bed wall (we can’t rearrange either room) and we tell him all the noise will wake them, and tbf he doesn’t seem to want to wake them (thank God). We end up sitting on his bed with a hand lightly placed on his side so he doesn’t get up. He then gets very upset at the apparent ‘constraint’ (it’s really not, I promise!) and we have lots of screaming, wailing and promises to stop being silly that come to precisely nothing as soon as he’s left to it again. We’ve cried, he’s cried, it’s grim. After a while he snaps out of it and says he’s sorry for being silly, lies down and goes to sleep. Often everyone has been upset by that point. He’s not often asleep before 8:45/9 at the moment and I know that’s not horrendous in overall ASD terms but relative to how he was a couple of months ago, it is.
It doesn’t seem to quite coincide with having gone back to nursery; he was fine for the first couple of weeks. I don’t know if this is all ASD-linked or general 4-year-old stuff.
I’ve talked to him about it at bedtimes and during the day, he acknowledges it all and says happily he’s not going to be silly, he even includes ‘not being silly’ when reciting his own bedtime routine. He totally gets it. We’ve watched the Get Well Soon episode about sleep and discussed it, we’ve tried reward charts, we’ve tried Moshi and music. But it really is bizarre - genuinely like someone flicks a switch. He’s been a little more attached to me in the last couple of weeks but it makes no difference whether it’s me or DH doing bedtime.
We are all a bit done in with it and I’m worried about him getting enough sleep for school in a few weeks. We’re just drawing a blank on what the hell is going on and he can’t offer any reasons.
I did get really upset one night and get teary (not sobbing or anything but a little weepy), which I hadn’t intended but it was just the last straw that day with work and bereavement stress. He jolted out of it then and was upset to see me upset and came across for a cuddle. It was horrible because while he obviously settled straight down then, it was because he was clearly unnerved by it.
Forgot to say bedtime starts at 7 at the bedtime stories point. We had thought maybe he’s not tired but we know most days he truly definitely is.