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Autism Meltdowns at Night or Bed Time

autism meltdowns at night. An infographic from Goally's pinterest on how to handle autism meltdown at night.
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Let’s hit this straight: managing autism meltdowns at night is an art that will guide you on a path shaped like a ‘U.’ At the top, we begin at Calm, descend during a meltdown, and rise back towards Calm. Your child transitions through stages – Calm, Triggers, Agitation, Meltdown, Re-grouping, and Starting Over. Think of this as a roadmap to put you in the driving seat when tangled in a fold of autism meltdowns.

Calm Before the Storm

During the calm phase, your child is composed and interacts positively. This is your golden opportunity to act proactive. Monitor behaviors, facilitate their preferred activities, and develop strategies that nurture a stress-free environment. Remember, Calm isn’t merely the absence of a meltdown but an active assurance of peace.

Triggers that Tilt

In the trigger phase, an event or accumulation of incidents pushes your child toward distress. But be reassured, you’re not helpless. Focus on identifying possible triggers — routine changes, sensory overload, fatigue, or hunger. Early trigger identification is akin to nipping the problem in the bud, enabling you to alter the situation effectively.

Agitation: Bridges to Meltdowns

During Agitation, behavior alterations become noticeable. Your child might show signs of anxiety, display less tolerance, or engage in repetitive behaviors. Recognizing Agitation and acting swiftly could stop the escalation to a full-blown meltdown.

Autism meltdowns at night this image shows a mother kissing her children during bedtime
Read more: How to Help a Child With Autism Calm Down

The Inevitable Meltdowns

The Meltdown phase – it’s testing, it’s taxing. But remember, for kids facing sensory overwhelm, this could be their strategy to communicate discomfort. Reflect on their communication point— Are they craving a routine change? Is there a need for sensory acclimatization? Respond empathetically rather than reactively.

Read More: How to Make the Best Bedtime Routine for Kids + A Free Bedtime Routine Chart

The Re-Grouping Rerun

Post-meltdown, your child will retreat to the re-grouping phase. They’ll seem exhausted yet potentially more relaxed. Integrate comforting strategies at this interval, like a favorite story, a special blanket, or soothing music, and above all, heap loads of patience.

Read More: ADHD Meltdowns at Bedtime: What to Do

Starting Over: From Fallout to Freedom

As your child returns to the calm phase, it’s a fresh start. Reinforce positive behavior, re-establish regular routines, and maintain an encouraging atmosphere. Remember that every meltdown isn’t necessarily a setback; it’s a step closer to understanding your child better.

Avoiding Autism Meltdowns at Night

I could borrow a phrase from Benjamin Franklin, An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In that case, it reigns valid, particularly for avoiding “autism meltdowns at night.”

Read More: Bedtime Routine for a Child with Autism Made Easy

Establish a Consistent Sleep Routine

Ensuring a steady sleep schedule aids in circadian rhythm regulation – that’s science’s way of dictating our internal body clock. It’s a pillar supporting the structure of your child’s nighttime calm. Keep bedtimes and awakenings consistent, and remember – we thrive on routines, and so do your kids.

The Magic of Wind-Down Activities

Incorporating relaxing activities before bedtime, such as reading a story, a warm bath, or some soft music, can do a world of good to prepare your child for sleep. Plan these activities in sync with your child’s interests; this will become their day’s highlight. Encounter their world of imagination and create avenues for a serene sleep journey.

Understanding Sensory Needs

Each kid with special needs is unique, including their sensory preferences. Some might prefer dark, quiet rooms; others like a nightlight or white noise device. Find out what suits your child and mold their sleep environment accordingly. Find yourself baffled? Reach out to an Occupational Therapist – they could be your guiding star.

Goally | Apps To Support Child Development

Looking for fun ways to help your child learn life skills? Try Goally! The Goally tablet comes with award-winning learning apps and video classes to help kids develop the skills they need to become independent with FUN & evidence-based practices.

An assortment of interactive video class thumbnails, including dental care and cooking, on the best tablet for kids by Goally.

Our apps teach executive function, language, emotional regulation, finger dexterity skills, and more.

As your child develops new skills, you can increase the difficulty level of the tasks in the app to challenge and motivate them even further. This helps your child grow and progress at their own pace, while also keeping them engaged and excited about their development.

Goally kids tablet makes bedtime easy with bedtime routines completely controlled by the parent.

With this comprehensive model and preventative strategies in your arsenal, you’re braced to amplify the Calm in your child’s nights. But remember – you’re the expert on your child, so align these suggestions with what you know works best for your family. It’s not just about managing autism meltdowns at night but about manifesting tranquility across both worlds.

FAQs About Autism Meltdowns at Night

What are autism meltdowns at night?
Autism meltdowns at night are a type of behavioral issue that some autistic individuals experience where they become overwhelmed and have difficulty coping with their emotions or sensory input during the evening hours.

Why does my autistic child cry at night?
Autism meltdowns at night can be triggered by a variety of factors, including changes in routine, sensory overload, anxiety, or other environmental factors.

How can parents prevent autism meltdowns at night?
To help prevent autism meltdowns at night, parents can try establishing a consistent bedtime routine, reducing sensory input before bed, providing a quiet and calming environment, and using calming techniques such as deep pressure or sensory integration.

What should parents do when their child has an autism meltdown at night?
When a child with autism has a meltdown at night, it's important for parents to remain calm, provide a safe and supportive environment, and use strategies such as deep pressure or sensory integration to help the child regulate their emotions and calm down.

Can medication help with autism meltdowns at night?
In some cases, medication may be helpful in reducing autism meltdowns at night, particularly if the meltdowns are related to anxiety or other psychiatric conditions. However, medication should always be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

This post was originally published on 06/21/2021. It was updated on 01/30/2024.

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