The Solution to Autism and Sleep Problems

Heavy blankets…tried it. Melatonin…tried it. Baths before bedtime…tried it. As much physical activity during the day to make my 5-year-old son with autism tired…tried it. Benedryl…tried it. Soothing noise maker in the room…tried it. Repetitive mantra “it’s time to sleep…it’s time to sleep”…tried it. (you can read that blog at

I think we’ve tried just about everything we can think of to get our son to sleep…and sleep well throughout the night.

I feel like a total failure.

All those things mentioned above have helped from time-to-time…and I would encourage you to try any if not all of them to see if they will help your child sleep. (consult physician before you do too much with meds)

I’m convinced there is no right or perfect answer to get PDD kids to sleep. There can’t be–just like children on the autism spectrum, every situation is totally different. And there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme to the reason.

Sometimes when William is so tired we think he’ll sleep all through the night…then 4:00 AM rolls around and he starts calling out…”drink…drink…DRINK!” Yes, we’ve put a drink by his bed…doesn’t stop. It’s not a drink he wants–he doesn’t like being awake in the dark.

Before we had children my wife and I always commented how we would “never” let our children sleep in our bed. We still are not fans of that–but I will admit there have been a few dozen times over 5 years where we’re so dang tired that we’ll put him in our bed just to get him some sleep and us some sleep–and then again, there are times when even that doesn’t work.

We’ll go months with him sleeping well…maybe not even waking up once. Then for no obvious reason, he’ll wake up 3, 4, 5 times a night–and that will go on for a few weeks…then he’ll go back to sleeping well.

Tired, cranky, sluggish…and I’m not even talking about my son…I’m talking about me! Ahhhhh the joys of autism.

And people without kids on the spectrum say, “Oh I know just how you feel.” REALLY….YA THINK SO? Uhhhh NO YOU DON’T!!!

So what’s the meta-message from this rambling blog?
1) Deal with it…get your rest when you can…help your spouse as much as possible…a 20 minute nap is valuable
2) Hey, there are times having a child with autism stink! (shocking I know)
3) Within reason, try anything and everything you feel comfortable with–I certainly would consult a doctor before you get to deep into medication
4) Love your child…it’s not like they’re doing this to you in spite or anything
5) Congratulations…you’re in a very unique club…and you’re not alone

Seth/Melanie Fowler on Twitter
Seth/Melanie Fowler
Authored, Look at my Eyes, a parent's perspective re: navigating autism-early intervention, insurance, treatments, a paradigm of a family & child with autism
Seth/Melanie Fowler

Seth/Melanie Fowler

Authored, Look at my Eyes, a parent's perspective re: navigating autism-early intervention, insurance, treatments, a paradigm of a family & child with autism

0 thoughts on “The Solution to Autism and Sleep Problems

  • I have a good friend who is the mother of a five year old autistic son. Whenever I go to her house with friends Hayden is fast asleep on the couch. I asked her how she does it and if there is any challange, She said of course have an autistic kid is hard but when it comes to Hayden wanting to snooze it’s warm chocolate milk and Hayden’s favorite stuff animal.

  • My son is autistic and on multiple nutritional supplements, as well as allergy shots, vitamin B-12 injections (methylcobalamin), antifungals and probiotics due to food sensitivities. In the past, we have tried melatonin and benadryl to help with sleep issues with little to no avail… We now avoid the foods he has sensitivities to (ie. gluten and casein specifically), give him the supplement 5HTP at dinner and his probiotics at bedtime. He will generally sleep through the night if we follow this regimine. Bedtime is at 9 pm, he usually sleeps ’til 7 or 8 am…  9 am if I’m lucky, but that’s usually a night after he’s had his allergy shot.

  • I did not read any solution here other than “suck it up.” Not really as helpful as I was hoping.

  • when i was little my mom would rub my head to get me asleep weather it was at the beginning of the night or when i woke up during the night it was only thing that worked as I got older sleeping tucked in tightly under the covers was the only way for me to get confertable and sleep.  i feel for my parents and others like them it had to be hard enough without the sleepless nights.

  • I myself have sleep problems and have tried everything but unfortunately only benadryl works & I’m not going to take that stuff everyday.


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