This could be your child … beautifully, quietly sleeping in their own bed.
Photo Notation: Vivek, Age 6, Diagnosis: Autism Spectrum Disorder – Slept in his own bed the first night his parents used The Son-Rise Program Sleep Protocol!
So many of our children have challenges with sleep: going to sleep, staying asleep, sleeping in their own beds etc. This, as you know so well, often results in you having challenges with sleep too!
The Son-Rise Program Sleep Protocol:(condensed version)
1. Be Ready: In order for this protocol to be effective, it is essential that you really want this to happen. That you see the benefits for your child and family and that YOU are ready for your child to sleep on their own.
2. Believe your child can change: Even if your child has had sleeping challenges for years, this does not mean they are not capable of sleeping on their own. The brain changes in response to changing stimulus and circumstances. By changing the way you behave around bedtime and sleep, you are offering your child (and their beautiful brain) the chance to change in response.
3. Know that we can all have the capacity to put ourselves to sleep: When we are babies, we associate the sound of our mothers heartbeat, the smell of her skin and the sound of her voice with a soothing, ‘go to sleep’ feeling.
When we are tired, she may pick us up and again, offer us the sound of her voice, the feel of heartbeat and the sound of her voice, and we use this as our cue to relax and go to sleep. Typically, as children grow older, we begin to put them into their own beds and through this process they begin to soothe themselves instead. They may hug a teddy bear, or rock back and forth. They may wrap their arms around their pillow and hum, or rub their feet together – effectively replacing the old cues with new ones that they created!
Photo Notation: Casey, Age 13, Diagnosis: Autism – Slept in his own bed the second night his parents used The Son-Rise Program Sleep Protocol!
For our children that are unique or on the Autism Spectrum oftentimes this more ‘natural’ process does not occur and they continue to associate the smell and sounds and feel of their parents with sleeping and therefore may appear to ‘need’ Mommy or Daddy in order to fall asleep or stay asleep if they awake (those of you who have middle of the night visitors know what I am talking about). It’s vitally important, essential actually, that you believe that your child, once they are given the opportunity, is perfectly capable of creating a new ‘cue’ that will offer them the same, soothing ‘go to sleep’ message that they had previously gotten from you.
4. Prepare Using these steps:
a. Starting a few weeks before you will begin using the Protocol, start counting down on the calendar. Explain to your child (regardless of their age ability) what is going to happen. “Hey Buddy! I have some exciting news!! YOU are going to get to sleep in your own bed, like the big boy that you are! On this day, (show them the calendar) you will finally be able to sleep on your own! Isn’t this exciting??” Mention this at least a couple of times each day.
b. Tell your child that you are going to get them a brand, new, wonderful Sleep Buddy! This means that just before the day that they are going to sleep in their own bed you go to the store and pick out a wonderful, new stuffed animal (or you can bring your child and they can pick it out!). You are also going to take a soft t-shirt that you own and you are going to sleep in it for a day or two (so it absorbs your wonderful mommy or daddy scent) and you are going to put it on your child’s buddy (so they still go to sleep with the familiar smell of those they love.
c. On the day that you put them in your own bed, tell your child, “This is so exciting! From now on you will sleep in your own bed and Mom and Dad will sleep in their own bed.”
5. Do it!: After you walk out of your child’s bedroom, pause and take it in – you are on your way! If your child cries, that’s ok, perhaps this will be part of the process they use to find their own ‘soothing’ sound (I have heard many child transition from a cry to a humming at bedtime). If your child comes out, you will take them by the hand and very quietly and sweetly walk them back to their bed (without much talking on your part) and remind them that they get to stay in their own bed. If your child later comes into your bed, do the same thing again – walk them to their own bed, quietly, sweetly and remind them that they get to sleep in their own bed now.
Photo Notation: Leo, Age 6, Diagnosis: Autism – Slept in his own bed the first night his parents used The Son-Rise Program Sleep Protocol!
6. Stay the course: You may have to walk them back to their room, or get up in the middle of the night and walk them back to their bed ten times in one night. Or perhaps 10 times a night, for numerous nights. Although I suggest being prepared to do the Son-Rise Sleep Protocol for 10 days, the majority of families I have worked with (see the children above?) have had success within 24-48 hours!) Remember, your child will not magically sleep in their own bed, they require our help and guidance and support to make the transition. By staying the course, and being consistent and committed you will offer them this fantastic opportunity to grow.
****Special Added Bonus: YOU GET MORE SLEEP! If you are well rested, you will probably find that you have more energy, more creative ideas, more patience, increased stamina, greater information retention and an increased ability to be playful. What’s not to like?
I am so excited for you to use this protocol!
I also invite anyone who uses it to please send a photo with their child sleeping in their own bed (like those above) to my Executive Assistant: Cyndi Chase at firstname.lastname@example.org to be included in our soon to be created ‘Son-Rise ProgramSleep Hall Of Fame‘.
Executive Director of the Autism Treatment Center of America®