My son (29 months, no official diagnosis yet but likely something HFAish), is a basically happy and content little guy. However, I’m starting to feel like I’m not supporting his sensory-seeking behaviors around bedtime very well. Would love any suggestions, BTDT, etc.
For the most part his sensory-seeking seems relatively mild. It’s almost all proprioceptive or vestibular. Lots of hard work, heavy lifting, pushing, pulling, and teeth grinding. We seem to have a pretty good routine of accommodating his sensory needs in the daytime just by tuning in and communicating. It helps so much that he’s very verbal; eg, he will say things like, “Mommy, I need to pull something,” and we’ll get out a doll blanket and play tug-o-war.
Bedtime has turned into another story. For several months now, his activity level has always seemed to ramp up as soon as we start our routine, and the last few weeks it’s gotten to feel almost manic. Our routine is: look for the moon :), brush teeth, brief play in room while I take care of his diapers and clothes, pick out 3 books to read, put on jammies, read books, sing a song, go into crib. (We try to avoid bath at bedtime – that hypes him up more.) Takes about 45-60 minutes. Then he’s awake happily talking to himself for 1-2 hours (almost never needs me in the room).
As soon as we start upstairs, it’s like he goes into overdrive. Running in circles, literally bouncing off walls and floors, laughing hysterically, kicking, pushing, throwing. Teeth-grinding like crazy. Transitions from one element of the routine to the next (never easy) became way more challenging (fights brushing teeth, then fights stopping brushing teeth, etc).
Staying connected feels much more challenging during this time. Plus I worry he could hurt himself. Plus it seems to be taking him longer and longer to fall asleep after all this activity. Plus I know part of my worry about all of this is driven by my fears about the extent of his spectrum-ness, and whether I have what it takes to give him everything he needs, now and in the future.
I know he stims to meet needs. I know there should be ways to allow him to stim or to guide him to a more appropriate stim. But I really wonder how to do this effectively for him, because he seems to have a tendency to fixate on the stim. (https://www.facebook.com/autismdiscussionpage/posts/339753636104143 describes it well.) Eg, we used to have those old-fashioned plain white cloth diapers around for him to chew while he was teething, but that evolved into him stuffing as much of it as possible into his mouth and chewing it nonstop whenever he saw it, and never becoming aware that his need had been met and moving on.
We will be seeing an OT in the fall and I’m sure a sensory diet will be part of our conversation, but seems like we need something NOW, and I would SO appreciate any advice. (Also, I know there are several books that are frequently recommended here regarding sensory stuff, but as a single, full-time working mom, I’d love help finding just one, especially one that focuses on simple how’s to meet the needs.)
Thanks for reading!