Monday, June 11, 2012

Sleep Strategies for Children With Fetal Alcohol

Wear them out - wear them out I repeat - fun and laughter and sunshine and water and dirt and play. Running and jumping and fun after school or being overwhelmed in learning new things. A healthy meal and then begin to build in household peace.

Bringing calm to a household of atypical children can be difficult. By developing a sleep transition system you provide your children a lifetime strategy to learn to calm, rest and gain sleep.

We found over the years that the following things made a difference:

  1. Begin shutting off blue light (cell phones, television, computers) two hours before going to bed and change sounds in the home to quiet music or soft nature. Move to a warmer spectrum of lighting. Blue light (which is the light we have during most of the day limits our production of melatonin, in the absence of blue light, melatonin production increases and we get sleepier. 
  2. Shake the "zingys" off - we found rapidly waving the hands, kicking the feet or shaking the whole body helped move energy. "We cast off the troubles of the day." All the yuck fell off... or at least we tried.  If you have night lights this is the time to engage the children to tip toe and slowly turn them all on while turning house lights off or dimming them mouse quiet.
  3. Prepare a warm bath with a chamomile, lavender, sandalwood scent and let the child soak while you write your to do list for the morning and then leave it! 
  4. Dim the lights.  We had a BETA FIGHTING FISH in a night lighted tank in the bathroom that was always alert to protect children padding in to go potty in the middle of the night. If you are staying in the bathroom while the children bathe, use a scented candle and dim the lights. I put the candle away when I am done and hide it.
  5. Tumble the towels and pajamas in the dryer to warm and wrap a child. Drying with a warm towels helps in the transition of leaving the bathtub and warm pajamas help in the transition from towel to bed clothes. 
  6. Practice some gentle slow stretching - help your child find stretches that are soothing.
  7. Read a kind, happy story with child in bed (Goodnight Moon and Nuzzle: Love Between a Boy and His Service Dog). We found a number of gentle reading places - the hammock in the summer, the porch swing or rocking glider, a snuggly day bed, bean bags and puppies, a tent bed or into their room. Settle in the critters - stuffed animals, service dog or pet dogs, dolls, cats - into proper places. Click to see children's tent and trundle beds | some great hammocks
  8. Soft circle touches or brushes from knee to toes, elbows to fingers and on face - clockwork circles beginning at the 6 o'clock help to soothe (children with sensory issues may need different kinds of touches - some days our daughter wants light friction or deep pressure - she usually has an idea of what will help her best.)
  9. Mist the monsters. We use a spritzer with lavender, chamomile, sandalwood, or sage to scare out whatever might be in the closet or under the bed. 
  10. Give a day of thanks. We say prayers. This final quiet time is for remembering all the good things in the day and being thankful and asking for protection for all the people we love - prayers in our house could take a while because even neighbors dogs or the tree squirrels could be added.
Now it's mom and dad's turn. Depending on the rules in your home - ours was unless you need to potty after prayers you wait until the sun comes up to get out of bed - in the summer THAT could be early! This is the time I write in my journal or read before I fall asleep or at least quietly eyes closed rest.

Read more about blue light

Following are some fun bedtime sleep tents and trundles - some children need very empty rooms - for others these are marvelous. 

1 comment:

Paula Schuck said...

Jodi: these are brilliant tips. Thank you. I am sharing now with all my parents in support group and my friends too. Thanks.

Paula schuck