Practical steps to fight night-time difficulties for children with autism

Comes now the second in a series of Hughes reviews built around the practices, the protocols, the clinical rationales to be found in a glorious book, The Un-Prescription for Autism by a courageous, quite brilliant woman named Janet Lintala. Ms. Janet operates the Autism Health Center in Beckley, West Virginia and, while she has formal education to support here work, most of her wisdom comes from her own family’s hard-fought experiences with three sons, each of whom confronts issues ranging from Asperger syndrome to Tourette disorder to OCD to anxiety to ADHD.

Good news, bad news from the Hughes brothers. Good: The Autism Health Center is achieving wide and diverse success in its methodology of treatment. Bad: So much so that the Center’s website suggests no openings for new patients will arise before second quarter, 2019.

Still, you might contact these splendid folks (304.255.2550) for guidance, for help of any sort, for perhaps an appointment on the off chance of a cancellation or some such.

Neat idea, this basic gastrointestinal protocol

As our first article on The Un-Prescription for Autism reported, autism clinics around the country have suggested that as many as seven patients in ten suffer from gastrointestinal pain and inflammation fully capable of disrupting normal sleep patterns. In response, Janet Lintala has composed a set of guidelines that really should help your child sleep better. And once more, these rules will likely benefit children without ASD as well.

· Make sure your child’s head is elevated. A pillow stuffed under the mattress should work just fine, since only a slight bit of elevation will deliver quick relief.

· Don’t allow your child to eat close to bedtime. The old canard about eating before swimming applies – ensure that your little one eats the last meal or snack of the day at least one hour before sleep-time.

· Screens, screens of any sort are not your evening’s friends. Turn your child away from the television, the computer, the game stations – again – an hour before bedtime.

· Establish a set time for bed. Maintain a schedule with your child marching off to happy dreams at the same time every night. No exceptions for weekends or holidays. Bedtime routines should be easy, soothing, quiet, and very, very predictable. Plenty of hours in the day otherwise for rough-housing and active, muscular fun.

· Provide a warm bath for your child in lieu of those video games in the minutes just before sleep. Water toys can help soothe your child too. All the pertinent studies indicate that water can be very calming for children with autism. And as Mom Hughes found with us brats that Epsom salts bring their own special brand of inexpensive calm to the bath.

· Keep the child’s room cool. Turn down the thermostat and expect better sleep. True for adults and other children too.

· Minimize noise. Make your child’s sleeping space as free of aural distraction as possible. Remember also that children with autism lack the ability to tune out noises that others in the house long ago stopped hearing – an air-conditioning unit just outside a bedroom window, for example. Even though you can’t control sirens or some barking dog down the street or cars passing on some busy, nearby road, take every measure you can (earplugs, cotton in the ears, white noise machines) to keep the child undisturbed.

Stay tuned: a review of The Un-Prescription for Autism

As promised, the Hughes brothers will bring you next our thinking about a collective read of the most imaginative, most solidly researched – or maybe better – the most solidly experienced book on the subject of family mechanisms for dealing with autism that, frankly, we’ve ever encountered.