Hi there and welcome to this week’s blog post. Whilst driving home today in my car I’ve been listening to the radio; and apparently there are a lot of people wanting to emigrate to Canada from the UK, following current tax reforms here. So a big hello to all you Canadian readers of my blog; and you should expect a few new people with funny British accents in your neighbourhood sometime soon! Anyway radio ramblings aside here’s this week’s article:
I would love to know how to deal with anxiety in Aspie children I have a son, 6 years old, who suffers anxiety and night terrors. The anxiety can get so bad at times that my poor son will throw up out of fear.
Although sleep problems are not part of the diagnostic criteria for autism, sleep problems seem to go hand in hand with autism. Many parents report this as a problem in their children with autism. A new study from the University La Sapienza in Italy shows children with Asperger’s Syndrome have more sleep problems than average children. Dr. Oliviero Bruni, the researcher, found that children with Asperger’s have a high incidence of sleep disorders and other problems, such as getting to sleep and restlessness, as well as daytime sleepiness. The study, published in the journal SLEEP, November 1, 2007, states that 50% of the children with AS didn’t want to go to bed, 75% needed a light or television in the bedroom, 87% had difficulty getting to sleep, and 75% fell asleep sweating.
There are medications such as Seroquel, Klonopin, Celexa and others that may help your son. Melatonin has had some good results, as have selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. But avoid the use of Singular for asthma or allergies as many incidences of children having night terrors while taking it have been reported. Some users have reported very vivid dreams and night terrors while on Strattera or while getting used to it.
Children and teenagers who spend two or three hours a day engaging in exercise have an easier time going to and staying asleep because they are more tired physically. So, make sure that your son gets plenty of physical exercise.
However, sometimes Aspies who are over-tired experience night terrors, so you have to find out how much exercise is good, but is not too much.
Sometimes keeping a journal of one’s thoughts can help reduce night terrors. Fears and concerns can be written down and that seems to reduce the brain’s need to process them at night. Since your son is so young, perhaps he could tell you his thoughts and you could journal them for him.
Counselling may help night terrors. Also, perhaps a medication is promoting night terrors. Talk to your son’s doctor about this.
There are two Exploring Feelings books by the highly-acclaimed Aspergers expert Tony Atwood. One is designed to explore and manage anxiety, the other to explore and manage anger. You can read more about them by clicking here. The original program was designed for small groups of two to five children between the ages of 9 and 12 years, with two adults conducting the program. However, the Exploring Feelings program can easily be modified to be used with just one child. The activities can also be modified to be age-appropriate for an adolescent or adult. The program was designed as a treatment for an anxiety disorder or anger management problem in children with Asperger’s syndrome, but the program can be used with children with High Functioning Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (PDDNOS). The author also designed the program so that it does not have to be implemented by a qualified psychologist. A teacher, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, or parent can implement the program without having training in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.
Until next time …
PS – The new Parenting Aspergers website is coming on leaps and bounds and I am working with an excellent web designer called Valerie (co-incidentally out in Canada!) who is working hard on the final look and design. This week I’ve been working on ways to add Aspergers information using video to the site; which I hope will be another great feature. I am really excited about the potential help this site will be to so many parents.