Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Help With Getting Your Child to Sleep at Night

I know what it is to have a child that does not sleep as he should at night, as many of you out there do. The difference for me is that I wasn't bothered that much by the fact that my child only slept in short spurts.

I do wonder...are there any other parents out there who are on the spectrum themselves that don't seem to mind if their children are up at night?

At first, my only complaint was getting to have some mommy time to myself. I look forward to having time to myself at some point of the day, usually at the end of the day. There have been times my son has been up late night and want to play or help me clean. Don't get me wrong, the cleaning part is great, but I'd rather he help me during the day and let me have my time late night. Other than that, I had not complaints, at least, not until he developed epilepsy. Those of you who battle epilepsy know the importance of sleep when trying to minimize seizures.

I'm working hard to help my son's seizures to decrease. It's been a struggle getting my son to sleep through the night. His neurologist  prescribed Gabapentin. I didn't like it at first because he's groggier during the day and it seemed to increase his seizures. Though the seizures were mild, the frequency became a major issues. I tried adjusting the medication several times. Nothing was getting better. It had gotten to the point where I had to homeschool him and schedule speaking engagements later in the day because he was too groggy and highly prone to seizing late mornings and early afternoons. I literally had to completely restructure our days. This had to change.

About 2 weeks ago I had an aha moment. My son needed more than medication changes to help him sleep through the night. I needed to change his night time routine. So we began building a bedtime routing that allowed him to still have some activity, but activity that allows his mind calm and be receptive to sleep. It's working well. When it's time to get ready for bed I put on a video that is interesting enough to draw his attention while being boring enough to lull him to sleep. It's taken a couple weeks for him to get used to the new routine. I think it's working very well. Even though he's been a bit resistant, sleep patterns have improved tremendously and seizures have decreased.

Whatever nighttime routing you come up with for your child, be sure to have a back up plan. I say this because I've noticed a few of my son's nighttime videos have gone AWOL. Not to worry...until March of the Penguin, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium and all of the Wallace and Gromit movies return to their home on the shelf, I will gladly let him watch a few of my select favorites...Bob Ross Painting, Turtle: The Incredible Journey or Bears (the movie). Ha! Ha!

Here's a blog post I ran across today, written by Anna Laura Brown. She gives sound advise to parents struggling with getting their wee ones to sleep at night.

How to Solve the Sleep Problem Without Going Nuts - by Anna Laura Brown

Anna's an awesome blogger that I follow on twitter. If you're interested in following her you may do so @annalaurabrown.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

National Night Out 2017 "Taking Care of Our Mental Health"

My son and I ventured out to National Night Out this year. I learned about the event last year through the Durham CIT. I'm so glad we were able to attend this year. My son and I have partnered with Durham CIT to increase awareness and education of Autism and other Intellectual Disabilities for our local Police and First Responders. I could not have asked for a better response. Interactions between my son, local Police Officers and First Responders has been an eye opening experience for all involved. They get the opportunity to learn a little more about Autism and my son gets to learn about them. I also love that the Officers and First Responders are very engaging. They ask so many awesome questions and are eager to learn more. I see a great opportunity to get more people from the autism community to get involved with CIT. I hope we get enough participation to offer continuous education and interactions. After all, when you've met once person with've met one person with autism. One person cannot represent the entire autism community. I highly recommend getting in touch with your local CIT Chapter to see what you can do to help facilitate better relations between Officers, First Responders and people having Mental Illness, Intellectual Disabilities or Autism.

Getting Back to the event. National Night Out is a community event where attendees cab receive information from community partners regarding mental health and personal safety. Children get to explore the Emergency Response Station and interact with Local Officers and First Responders.

Here are a few pictures taken this evening. My son received a T-shirt from one of the officers and was able to hang out with a few firemen, police officers, CIT and mental health vendors.

Son getting T-shirt from Officer

Alliance Behavioral HealthCare

Durham CIT

Local First Responders, my son and a cute kid from the neighborhood
It was a great turnout. There was music, dancing, art contest, bouncy houses and food. All of the first responders were awesome and the vendors gave out great information. And my son really enjoyed himself. What more could you ask for in a community event... I'm looking forward to participating again next year.