Ben is a 5 year old boy who experiences significant sleep difficulties. Exhausted from getting very little sleep, Ben’s mum sought advice from a professional, Sue within a local support service. Sue had many years supporting young children in the generic service and so provided mum with the sleep hygiene advice she had shared with many parents over the years. Her advice was:
- Ban screen time for at least 2 hours before bed to allow Ben time to unwind. Give Ben a 5 minute warning before the 2 hour window, so that he has time to finish his game before switching off his device.
- Play a quiet game with Ben for a short period, or engage in some colouring in.
- About 90 minutes before bed time, bath Ben so that he is relaxed before bed. Try some relaxing lavender bubble bath.
- 15 minutes before bed time, settle Ben into bed and read him a bedtime story.
- Say goodnight and tuck Ben in, leave a dim light on so that ben does not feel scared of the dark
Ben’s mum was pleased to have Sue’s support and that night decided to follow her advice.
Sadly the plan did not go well. Ben became very upset when mum told him to switch off his game, despite being given a 5 minute warning. This meant that he took some time to calm down and meant that the planned “quiet game” time was delayed. When calm, mum tried to engage Ben in a game of snakes and ladders. Ben had no interest in this, or colouring in and so refused to engage in these.
Mum did manage to bath Ben, but during and afterwards he was very irritable and did not seem to calm at all.
Ben fidgeted throughout the bed time story, constantly asking mum if he could have some screen time instead.
At bedtime mum said goodnight and left the light on for Ben.
Ben did not go to sleep, and seemed more distressed than usual. Ben stayed awake very late, only falling to sleep after mum lay with him and woke up again in the early hours.
If Sue had been trained with the Aurum Autism Programme and used her Aurum Matrix she would have realised that:
- Ben has difficulty with abstract thinking, and with time being an abstract concept the 5 minute verbal warning had no meaning for him.
- Ben’s special interest is his game. When engaging in his game he focuses and is to troubled by the other things that usually bother him. By stopping him accessing his game, his coping mechanism is gone.
- Ben sees no point in playing snakes and ladders or “colouring in”, they are activities that do not interest him and so trying to engage him in them caused more stress for him.
- Ben feels very irritated by warm temperatures. The bath and subsequent heat in his body distressed him rather than calmed him.
- Mum chose to read Ben a story about a talking rabbit. Ben knows rabbits can’t talk. Ben couldn’t see the context of the story, or engage his imagination to enjoy the story. In fact, mum reading the story was very annoying for Ben, he sought out his game to help manage the irritation he felt.
- Ben has visual hypersensitivity, the dim light was most annoying and stopped any chance of him falling off to sleep.
Mum doesn’t see any point in seeking advice from services again, the advice does not work for Ben. She can’t see any way to help Ben to sleep and worries how she will cope in the longer term.
You can’t put a value on the benefits of investing in effective training.