Night waking or not sleeping is a huge issue for a lot of parents of children with autism.
Personally I know that we are really lucky as our son does sleep, he sleeps 7 to 7, every night, and has done since he was tiny. I know that there will come a time when he won’t go to bed at 7 but for now we are just happy to keep going with it.
It helps him that he is in such a strict routine, but for those kids that struggle with sleep, no amount of routine will help, its not linked to routine but to something much more than that.
These children just don’t seem to need as much sleep as a non autistic child might, they often end up staying up late into the night or go to bed and wake in the night, and then they are not able to settle again and sleep becomes a battlefield.
The following day, parents are left feeling exhausted whilst the child is full of beans and bouncing off the walls as if they have had a full nights sleep. Understandably this can often be the hardest thing that any parent has to deal with. Everyone knows that parenting a NT child when you have had little sleep is hard enough but, parenting a child with autism, who may have other behaviour issues can be extremely wearing.
There are some things that can be done, visiting the doctor is a good place to start they can refer you to a sleep clinic to look into what is happening at bedtime, and what could be preventing your child from been able to sleep. They can, if they feel it is beneficial prescribe melatonin which will then help them go to sleep and hopefully sleep longer.
They can also offer advice on things that might help you to help your child, social services can also offer short breaks in extreme cases to allow parents to have a rest from the sleepless nights. You would need to contact your local children’s disability service for information regarding this.