When we are sleep deprived, we can become forgetful and stressed so do not always recognise what’s happening at night.
Every night merges into one, so you need to be able to take night time and look at it in segments. Using a sleep diary can help you identify areas of inconsistency and areas to praise. You might even notice your child is getting more sleep than you thought!
To be effective, you need to complete your sleep diary honestly and fully.
If your child sleeps elsewhere, such as a respite centre or another family member’s house, ask them to fill in the sleep diary. You might notice your child’s sleep pattern is different there.
Check with your school to see if your child naps in the day. Ask the escort if they sleep on the bus home. This will affect night-time sleep if the nap is too late in the day or if they are at an age when they should not need naps.
Keep the diary and a pencil by the bed. Fill it in immediately as it's hard trying to remember what happened later.
Share the diary with sleep professionals to see if they can help you find a cause for your child’s sleeping difficulties.
Keep the diary for at least 2 weeks. See if you can see a pattern to your child’s sleeping habits. You can then identify an area that you can start to address.
Scope's sleep services
We run sleep services that support families of children with additional needs, aged between 2 and 19, who have severe sleep problems.
These services provide workshops, clinic appointments as well as support by telephone and email.
Get a black or dark blue piece of card. The size depends on how big your family is or how many stars you want to fill. Feel free to decorate it.
If it would help, give a maximum number of stars to fill the sky (such as 35 or 50). This way children know how many they need to achieve the award.
Everyone uses the same colour stars. You get 1 star for good and positive behaviour, doing chores or an act of kindness. Do not take away stars if there is negative behaviour. The reward chart is a visual incentive or reminder for the child.
Agree on a group activity or treat once the night sky is filled with stars.
All the family are involved and get rewards. Children can give the adults stars as well.
When the night sky is full of stars, you get the treat!
I am working for…
‘I am working for…’ is a basic reward chart for children on the autistic spectrum who might struggle with other types of reward chart.
What you need
A4 piece of card
a picture of your child’s reward
up to 10 tokens or stickers
How to do it
Choose a reward for your child and put a picture of it on a sheet of card. Make sure it is something you are happy for them to have quite often!
Cut out some tokens and keep them near the card.
When your child has completed a task, stick 1 token under the reward picture and let them have the reward instantly.
After doing this for a while, increase the number of tokens needed to get the reward up to 2, 3 and so on until your child learns how a basic reward system works.
In this example, the reward is watching television. This is shown by a picture of a TV remote. The token is a gold star.