MELTDOWN ADVICE / SLEEPLESSNESS ADVICE DESPERATELY NEEDED

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Neen
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05 Sep 2008, 7:51 pm

First of all, I'm so happy that I'm not alone...thanks to everyone for just being Aspie Parents willing to write about your experiences. Our son is 8 years old and having increased meltdowns. We're not even given any warnings...one moment he's fine and the next, he's literally going balistic. We have him on anxiety meds (celexa) and this was even hard for us to do, but we really were at wits end. He's been in therapy, but just the "while-we-wait" variety that they offer before we can be finally taken off of a 6-9 month waiting list for "real" help. Our boy is also on 6 mg's of Melatonin and was just fine for awhile. He has recently begun to wake up at 4:30 am again...this is with a 9:00 pm bedtime. ANY advice would be most welcome. I thank you, again!! !



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05 Sep 2008, 8:51 pm

Hi Neen.

I've had problems with insomnia most of my life, but I've found a number of things the past few years that really help. I think it's great your son is on Melatonin. (I wish I'd discovered it earlier in life myself). Is he on B vitamins as well? Taking a B complex seems to help me a great deal in terms of having a deeper, more refreshing sleep and I've heard other adult Aspies tell me the same as well.

One thing I think a lot of professionals seem to miss is the importance of exercise. Exercise helps me with managing anxiety, insomnia and depression, the last of which often causes early morning waking--even in kids. I've never tried anxiety or depression meds, so I can't speak from personal experience, but someone once told me he found regular cardio workouts even more effective than meds. I know that a lot of Aspies don't like team sports, but even taking regular walks as a family could help. Some exercises can also help with Asperger's-related motor skills problems, too. (Bonus! :) )

I know drastic elimination diets are controversial and just not practical if your son has adversions to certain foods. But, I can say that after being completely gluten and dairy free for about a year and a half, I do sleep and focus much better, for whatever it is worth. I am also less sensitive to sensory overload, which could play a role in triggering your son's meltdowns. I know GF/CF diets are not for everyone--I'm just sharing my own experience.

For me, chocolate and artificial sweeteners/preservatives seem to trigger my insomnia, as well. You may want to try having him avoid these foods, as a smaller step, and see if there is a difference. (Really, some studies suggest everyone should avoid artificial sweeteners and chemical additives, so it can't hurt anyhow, I guess). Good luck. I hope some of this helps him!



ster
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05 Sep 2008, 8:56 pm

how long has he been on his current anxiety meds ?...is it possible that some of the increased anxiety is due to the meds, or maybe some change within his environment ?........you're really going to have to sit back and analyze the situation again. it's possible that you may have overlooked some change that has taken place that you would normally not view as stressful, but is stressful in his eyes.......................our family's been through this. it's so stressful looking for answers and re-examining things, but in the end it's the only way we ever came to any solutions for our children.



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05 Sep 2008, 8:59 pm

Take him for long walks or if there is a pool around long swims.
then a nice hot bath, then have the child read for a while or you read too them.
remove any and all sound and light distractions if possible.
stop using medications, stop giving nap times.
give small doses of caffeine and a vitamin in the mornings or some kind of children's energy drink..



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05 Sep 2008, 9:25 pm

I'm sorry you are going through this... maybe you should take him off the melatonin. I found that melatonin made my sleep far more disturbed than without it. I would sooner try benadryl before melatonin.

The only way I can control my son's meltdowns is to remove access to his obsessions (computer, video games, internet) unless he can behave-- no hurting himself or others, no saying nasty things, etc..



Dasha
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05 Sep 2008, 9:56 pm

Neen wrote:
First of all, I'm so happy that I'm not alone...thanks to everyone for just being Aspie Parents willing to write about your experiences. Our son is 8 years old and having increased meltdowns. We're not even given any warnings...one moment he's fine and the next, he's literally going balistic. We have him on anxiety meds (celexa) and this was even hard for us to do, but we really were at wits end. He's been in therapy, but just the "while-we-wait" variety that they offer before we can be finally taken off of a 6-9 month waiting list for "real" help. Our boy is also on 6 mg's of Melatonin and was just fine for awhile. He has recently begun to wake up at 4:30 am again...this is with a 9:00 pm bedtime. ANY advice would be most welcome. I thank you, again!! !



Could it be sudden sensory changes then or the sounds of something he can hear that you can can't such as electricity in the walls?

7 hours is a bit less sleep for a child of that age, but not so abnormal that its cause for a concern in itself. Its possible thats all the sleep he naturally needs rather than the medicine keeping him up.



aspergian_mutant
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05 Sep 2008, 9:59 pm

ya, melatonin gives me nightmares



juancho
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06 Sep 2008, 12:27 am

I take melatonin for a couple of weeks or so -- until it stops working. Then I go off it and manage to sleep pretty well -- for a while. Thereupon I go on it again, repeating the cycle.

It's not a perfect amswer, but it helps.



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06 Sep 2008, 2:50 am

Many Aspies have sleep issues, and if he isn't getting enough sleep it will set him on edge. It's a difficult issue to deal with, and I think the other posts have laid out most of the common sense advice out there.

What I am wondering is if you have tried looking for the stress triggers in your son's life. They often are not obvious, and can occur hours or days away from the melt-down, but they break down the defenses and basically set your child up for losing it. Sensory issues, adjustment issues, problems at school, etc. You need to find the triggers and mitigate them, and that reduces the meltdowns. It can be like looking for a needle in a haystack, I know, but the more we've become aware of the triggers for my son, the better we've done with him.

It can be the oddest (to us) things. My son went through a phase of being terrified by automatic flush toilets. He established these huge patterns to avoid them, and trying to stick to those patterns was stress in itself.

So your eyes need to be wide, wide open. But do look. If you haven't already.


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Last edited by DW_a_mom on 06 Sep 2008, 1:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Neen
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06 Sep 2008, 8:08 am

Thank you so much for your advice! I don't even get this kind of feedback from his "therapy" group. =) Neen



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06 Sep 2008, 2:25 pm

Hi, not sure if this will help but...I had another child staying with my family for approx 3 months he was on meds to sleep then meds to wake him up (go figure). He is now drug free, not perfect but drug free.
His doc advised us that when slowly taking him off his night time meds, we had to keep him up for two hours past his normal bed time, even if he wanted to go to bed. Then we had to religously wake him up at the normal wake up time every morning (here it was 7.30am) regardless of how long he had slept threw the night. Retrain his sleep patterns. Each week we would decrease his bed time by approx 15 minutes. So start at 11pm, next week 10.45 etc.. Its hard work, but it was working.
And you have to increase his physical activity as the other posters have said. The other thing to do is have a wind down/quiet time set every night. No pc,video games etc reading or non stimulative tv only, but again no bed until 11pm. By about week 3 this boy I had staying with me was begging to go to bed and then falling asleep within minutes, and staying asleep. :wink: Good luck.



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07 Sep 2008, 7:24 am

When I'm in meltdown mode, I need the thing causing the meltdown to be removed from my environment. What is causing his meltdowns? Your son is old enough to be a part of this, include him in creating a more peaceful environment that makes him feel good. Also I just figured out that for me, singing to myself helps curb a meltdown. It forces me to keep control of my voice and lets some energy out.



Gallia
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12 Apr 2018, 6:02 pm

Neen wrote:
First of all, I'm so happy that I'm not alone...thanks to everyone for just being Aspie Parents willing to write about your experiences. Our son is 8 years old and having increased meltdowns. We're not even given any warnings...one moment he's fine and the next, he's literally going balistic. We have him on anxiety meds (celexa) and this was even hard for us to do, but we really were at wits end. He's been in therapy, but just the "while-we-wait" variety that they offer before we can be finally taken off of a 6-9 month waiting list for "real" help. Our boy is also on 6 mg's of Melatonin and was just fine for awhile. He has recently begun to wake up at 4:30 am again...this is with a 9:00 pm bedtime. ANY advice would be most welcome. I thank you, again!! !


honestly, i feel weird about parents who give meds to their 8 years olds - i think their brains are too young and still in the process of moulding their thoughts/ personality and adding meds in the mix just seems to cause unnecessary trouble. Also the child surely would feel like he's weird or a freak and that's not going to make you feel better. For the sleeping - he has to learn to relax on his own - have you tried mindfulness strategies? setting up a routine? giving him food/ drinks that dont over excited him and put him in a calm state? I used to suffer a lot with insomnia as a child. I would sleep 3-4 hours every night and my mother was worried for my health. She would give me cherry juice before bedtime (it contains melatonin) and also chamomile tea. She would also read me stories before going to sleep and lower the lights 1 hour before bedtime so i would calm down. It worked. I use her strategies to this day when i have trouble sleeping. hope that helps. please lay off the meds if you can help it!


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Gallia
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13 Apr 2018, 5:55 am

Neen wrote:
First of all, I'm so happy that I'm not alone...thanks to everyone for just being Aspie Parents willing to write about your experiences. Our son is 8 years old and having increased meltdowns. We're not even given any warnings...one moment he's fine and the next, he's literally going balistic. We have him on anxiety meds (celexa) and this was even hard for us to do, but we really were at wits end. He's been in therapy, but just the "while-we-wait" variety that they offer before we can be finally taken off of a 6-9 month waiting list for "real" help. Our boy is also on 6 mg's of Melatonin and was just fine for awhile. He has recently begun to wake up at 4:30 am again...this is with a 9:00 pm bedtime. ANY advice would be most welcome. I thank you, again!! !


oh another thing - I've tried melatonin before and couldn't fall asleep anyway and i had some really scary experiences. My body and mind felt so heavy like they were in delta sleep but I was awake but couldn't shake off the feeling. This made me very anxious and afraid. It's better to use melatonin supplements in terms of food. Goji berries are an excellent source. I eat them weekly these days. You dont want your soon to be hooked to pills at 8 yrs old and also his brain to stop having the ability to produce melatonin without supplements. Just saying.


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leahbear
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14 Apr 2018, 4:17 pm

When I take melatonin it usually puts me to sleep quickly but it almost always wakes me much earlier than I usually get up.



Seraphiel
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21 Apr 2018, 11:22 pm

In terms of him waking up at four, he is getting about seven hours of sleep, which may actually be enough for him. Anything more could just make him more tired. I would be worried if he were sleeping less than that, as opposed to just waking up at an inconvenient time. Some people need more sleep and others need less. I know people that are functional with 5-6 hours, and prefer it. I think eight hours or around there is what's preferred by most. If him waking up that early is a problem you might have to work on his schedule itself.

The meltdowns, people with asd don't have meltdowns for no reason. It's not necessarily because of anxiety or just because they are on the spectrum it just 'happens'. You need to find the root causes of these meltdowns, pay attention to what is happening before and after, what his body language and what he is doing. If something is upsetting him in some way, it needs to be worked through, or removed, or changed. it might even be something that has nothing to do with what is happening in the moment. Think about if there have been any changes, anything new, anything that may have bothered him, etc. He just may not be able to tell you in a normal way, but maybe he can, you should try to involve him in some kind of conversation. In that sense, you need to learn to understand him, and think from his perspective. I think the mistake many asd parents make, is that they rationalize everything based on how their world is, and not their child's. How they experience things, and how they think their child experiences thing, but it's never the same. Often times they can contribute to their problems, without meaning to. Depending on where he is on the spectrum, everything is very different for him ,and you can't simply write it off as anxiety and asd. He can learn to get better, but you have to understand enough to teach him how in a way that is supportive.

If you feel he is actually not getting enough sleep, or needs something to relax, a few things come to mind. One is, lavender, whether or not he can deal with it is going to be individual to him. I have a diffuser that I use at night, with lavender in it, it's both calming and can make one tired. I'm not into anxiety medication myself, I have taken it, and it has had negative affects on me, and i have other medications I take that have messed up my body as it is. I would recommend CBD oil, look it up. It can help with anxiety, depression, pain, inflammation, other things. It's a completely harmless oil, and it's legal, lots of people actually give it to their kids for epilepsy, which I happen to have as well. I think you should look into, and there's different types, and they do different things. In the very least, it wont hurt your kid, and it doesn't have side effects like anxiety medications do. It's a plant. It can help with sleep potentially, but I have not looked into it for that. I personally use CBD/TCH oil for anxiety, and depression. It's helped tremendously and I have turned a lot of my family on it. I wont bother preaching that to you though, since you were averse to anxiety medication in the first place.

Another thing, getting him involved with things that may tire him out enough to sleep better. It's also healthy, just keep in mind what may actually cause him more anxiety in terms of sensory issues. I think someone who works with asd kids that is more of a behavioral specialist could be of more help to you than therapy. He needs someone that will give him tools and guide him, less so someone to talk at. The only other thing I could say is to educate yourself about kids on the spectrum, or people in general. Learn about what their experiences are like from their perspective, so you can understand maybe why these meltdowns happen, and so often. I would discourage anything that's from a parents perspective. Something written about someone on the spectrum, or someone that works with people with it.