Sleep and Behaviour Support – an article by Charmaine Champ
This shares an example of a family being supported with sleep needs and how families can support their child, young person or adult.
Does your child, young person or adult struggle to settle off to sleep? Wake in the night? Only sleep when you or another family member lays with them?
Does your child, young person or adult present challenging or difficult to manage behaviours at night or in the day? Would you like to know the reasons for the behaviours? How to help them progress?
Every child, young person or adult is individual. If you can answer yes to “any” of the questions above, do not worry, help and support is available!
As a Continence Sleep and Behaviour Consultant, with over twenty-five years, qualified experience specialising in supporting all children, young people and adults, as a registered nurse in learning disability and community nurse specialist background in supporting individuals with and without a diagnosis of Autism, Learning Disability, Complex, Additional needs, and Neurodiversity, their families, carers, professionals, organisations, charities, I am passionate about helping individuals.
Supporting an individual’s sleep and behaviour needs:
An example of an individual being supported through my role is a young girl struggling to settle to sleep. The young girl was regularly displaying impulsive, erratic, intensive and ongoing movement behaviours and all attempts to “try” and settle the young girl, resulted in getting in and out of bed, running around the bedroom, jumping on and off the bed, rolling on and off the bed, vocally shouting and refusing to lay down and go to sleep.
Bedtime was confirmed to involve two to three hours of “trying” to settle and battle, until eventually the young girl would sleep at approx 11pm or later at night, sleeping until approx 2am – 4am in the morning, ready to start the day! The family were absolutely exhausted!
Following a comprehensive direct solution sleep and behaviour assessment package of care, I was able to provide a holistic approach through incorporating physical health needs, communication, sensory needs, behavioural and environmental factors when exploring the underlying reasons why the young girl was struggling.
The young girl was identified as using vocal noises as a form of communication, to express herself or take family members to objects or items of interest. However she was unable to explain, discuss or share her feelings verbally, the assessment highlighted an underlying urinary tract infection, which resulted in pain and discomfort being experienced, making it difficult for the young girl to keep still, through her increased need to pass urine, as well as resulting in displaying erratic, unpredictable behaviours, due to her pain responses and being unable to communicate her needs to family members. Two courses of antibiotics were able to address this.
The young girl also found it difficult to focus and sit during the day. Needing to have constant and persistent movement. This resulted in a limited food intake being consumed during the day. The young girls sleep difficulties were also attributed to her irregular eating patterns, resulting in “graze” eating habits, eating small amounts of food throughout the entire day and evening. The young girls sensory movement needs were addressed with a sensory diet (a routine of regular sensory activities implemented throughout the day time). As the young girl had regular opportunities to move throughout the day, her need to excessively move, run, jump during the bedtime routine dramatically reduced and enabled her to settle at bedtime.
Through implementing the sensory diet approach in the day, meant the young girl was able to cooperate and accept, sitting, long enough to eat a meal, sitting at the table at set times i.e. Breakfast. Lunch and Evening meal, which enabled her eating and drinking to be regulated.
To support the young girls communication needs and enable an understanding of meal times, where and when they take place and the bedtime routine, visual aides and a structured routine were introduced. Through the introduction of visual aids, a dramatic reduction in the number of choices and questions being asked were also able to take place, reducing the feeling of being overloaded about what, when and how she needed to do things which in turn enabled her behavioural responses to be amended.
The final contributing factor for the young girl being unable to sleep at night, was the need for a step by step sleep programme, which was shared and implement to address the limit setting difficulties and bedtime anxieties and promote sleep success!
How can you help your young person with their sleep needs?
Being successful with sleep, means we as a families, carers` or professionals need to promote:
- Structured eating and drinking routines in the day time
- Review exercise opportunities and an individual’s sensory needs in the daytime
- Review the bedroom environment
- Promote visual aids
- Introduce a bedtime routine as a start
Need further help and support?
Help is available, should you have any concerns around your child, young person or adult’s sleep or behavioural needs. Further support is available through:
- FREE Introductory call,
- FREE Supporting Videos,
- Published books,
- Online courses,
- Online support groups,
- Direct Starter Packages,
- Direct Solution Comprehensive Assessment Packages of Care and many more support options.
If you would like to hear more about these support options and the new initiates being produced and being launched soon, feel free to share your details and be the first to receive the information!
Look forward to speaking and supporting you further
Continence Sleep and Behaviour Consultant
Clear Steps Consultancy
Website: (To be launched Summer 2021): www.clearstepsconsultancy.co.uk
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