Friday, May 25th, 2012
Poor self-regulation is a primary reason that many children with sensory processing disorders have difficulty at bedtime. Your child may not be able to modulate his/her activity level to match your expectations for winding down before bedtime.
There are a number of things that you can do to promote your child’s ability to achieve a calmer state to prepare for bedtime:
- Limit activities that are alerting for your child 1-2 hours before bedtime. For example, many children become over aroused by TV and/or video games. If your child is going to be engaged in media activities, do so earlier in the afternoon and distance the activity from bedtime as much as possible.
- Remove over-stimulating objects/toys from the bedroom such as toys with flashing lights or loud sounds to create a calming environment.
- Provide your child with calming input by building it into your routine:
- Take your child for a walk
- Sit in a rocking chair together
Proprioceptive and deep-touch/pressure:
- Wrap tightly in towel after bath
- Tight pajamas
- Weighted blanket. Purchase one that is ready-made. (www.therapro.com), or make your own by sewing together two Brookstone soft nap blankets (www.brookstone.com)
- Sleeping bag
- Use music to set a relaxing tone. Many children respond well to lullabies and classical music such as Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Baroque music.
- Softly read to your child. For older children who can read independently, allow him/her a set time to read before bedtime. Use a timer to establish the specific time allotted for reading.
- Swimming late in the afternoon is calming and organizing for many children and can facilitate a smooth bedtime.
For children who struggle with transitioning between activities in general, the transition to bedtime can be exceedingly challenging.
Transitioning to bedtime is the most significant transition of the day, and will likely be the most challenging one your child will experience.
- Allow your child to fall asleep with a “transition object,” such as a favorite blanket, toy, or stuffed animal.
- Follow a consistent bedtime routine so that your child can predict what will happen next. Each step in the process will remind your child that bedtime is on its way.
Be mindful of environmental factors that can be disconcerting to a child who is hypersensitive to sensations:
- For a child who is hypersensitive to touch, pre-wash sheets so that the bed feels very soft.
- Use black-out shades for a child who is prone to visual over-stimulation and is sensitive to light.
- For a child who is overly sensitive to noise, use a white noise machine to cancel out background noise.
Aviva Goldwasser, MS, OTR/L
Dr. Chaye Lamm Warburg, OTR/L