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Setting Healthy Goals for Your Family in 2018

Congratulations, you made it through 2017 and into the new year!

As we kick off 2018 and clink our glasses to new beginnings, we start to consider our New Year’s resolutions—the changes we’d like to make to our routines, and things we hope to accomplish in 2018. As a parent of a child with autism, that includes planning and setting healthy and attainable goals for you and your child. We know it can be difficult to get back into the groove of things after the hectic holidays, so Cayer Behavioral Group (CBG) has gathered some tips and tricks for making this year the best one yet!

  1. Take an interest in your child’s interests. Being a parent of a child with autism and having to juggle work, school, appointments, and therapies can make it very difficult to get quality bonding time. Making the small, conscious effort to take a personal interest in your child’s interests can go a long way in bringing you closer together. I bet you’ll find that their passion is contagious, fun and inspiring. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even teach you something new!
  2. But also take time for yourself. This one is difficult for a lot of parents, because their children tend to come first in most aspects of their life. That’s why it is important to remember that we give can only give our children our best, when we ourselves are at our best. So make your needs and well-being a priority in 2018, guilt-free, knowing you have your child’s best interest in mind. Take 3 to 4 days to blow off some steam at the gym, schedule a date-night for you and your spouse, or even just a few minutes to read a new book, listen to your favorite song, or take a hot bath!
  3. Don’t beat yourself up! Everyone has bad days, and there will likely be a few along the path to accomplishing your goals. But perfection is boring and unattainable, so give yourself the credit you deserve. Take a moment to reflect on 2017’s feats, and pat yourself on the back for surviving another year despite its mishaps. You are a devoted parent who works hard to take care of your special needs child, and thanks to you, their needs are being met with love and care. That in itself is something to be celebrated!
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for support. Being open and honest about our struggles can be difficult. Maybe you don’t want others to see you as weak or inept, or are worried about being a burden, or just don’t know how to properly convey your emotions. But asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. There is an entire community out there of people who have been in your shoes, and who are not only willing, but eager to welcome you with open arms—CBG included! So don’t be afraid to reach out to your team at CBG and ask for support when you need it. You are resilient and resourceful, and asking for help will only make you more confident when facing stress next time around.

Wishing you and your family a prosperous 2018!

Two Kids Playing

Managing Bedtimes and New Routines

Bedtime.

For some parents, it’s a seemingly harmless word that nevertheless can strike fear into hearts.

Some children seem to gain a special kind of hyper and defiant energy when told to prepare for bed. As the first day of school approaches, getting children to bed for a solid night’s sleep is critical, but the amount of sleep needed varies by age. The National Sleep Foundation recommends for preschool children (11-13 hrs), school age children (10 -11 hrs) and for adolescents (9 ¼ hrs). Daytime sleepiness can result in hyperactivity, inattentiveness and aggression. Having energy during the school day can make a monumental difference.

First things first: take a deep breath. You can do this!

For children with Autism, sleep problems are very common. The two most prevalent challenges are difficulty falling asleep and repeated awakenings throughout the night. Some medications may have a detrimental impact on a child being able to fall asleep or stay asleep. Before putting your child on any new medications, ask your doctor about possible nighttime side effects. If you are currently dealing with these issues, ask your doctor if it may be because of medication.

Start your school year off by establishing a bedtime routine both you and your child can depend on.

  1. Exercise during the day can make it easier for a child to fall asleep. Try to avoid any intensive physical activities close to bedtime, which can have the opposite effect.
  2. Avoid caffeine close to bedtime. Be aware of any beverages your child is consuming which could be harboring caffeine, including tea, soda, and chocolate.
  3. Your child’s sleep environment is critical. It should be calm, dark, and cool. Be aware of any possible toys or distractions in the environment.
  4. Create a predictable routine. Perhaps a bath, listening to music, or reading a book. The use of electronic devices immediately before bedtime can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
  5. Teach your child to fall asleep alone. For many parents, this can be the most difficult challenge, as you want to comfort a distressed child. Stay with your child before bedtime but leave before they fall asleep. If needed, only return to their room for reassurances, and leave shortly thereafter.

This bedtime routine can be a special time for you and your child to unwind, relax, and bond. It won’t always go perfectly, of course, but don’t let temporary discouragement keep you from getting back on track. Now, let’s get to sleeping!

 

References

Autism Speaks