Help With Sleep

by Carra Connors
(Everett, Washington, USA)

Don't Let That Face Fool 'Ya !

Don't Let That Face Fool 'Ya !

Hi my name is Carra and my son is 22 months old. He has never been able to fall asleep on his own. He still requires a bottle and his back patted (not rubbed, he doesn't like that). I've tried taking away the bottle and he can't seem to wind down without it. I've tried to cold turkey him off it and he cried for more than 3 hours and neighbor knocked to make sure he was ok. How do I get him off a bottle??

And now about trying to get him to fall asleep on his own... I've tried everything from letting him cry to star charts, you name it I've tried it. He is diagnosed as having sensory processing disorder and an unspecified nervous system disorder. He's been in Occupational Therapy since he was 3 months old. They use pressure therapy but I don't know what more I can try. Any ideas??

Yes, settling down for sleep is indeed difficult for our SPD kiddos. They do tend to be the ones who stay longer on the bottles, the pacifiers, needing mom or dad to help them fall asleep, their back rubbed to get the sleep, etc. And, your son does indeed have SIGNIFICANT sensory processing issues, so his difficulties with this are not surprising.

You know, my advice for you (and others who would be in your shoes) is going to contradict what normal parenting advice would be... until your son begins to show improvement in his self-regulation and modulation abilities. For now? I would allow him to continue using the bottle to soothe himself. However, this is ONLY until you are using consistent therapies at home in addition to his OT sessions.

I am becoming a little concerned about the therapies he is/isn't receiving. Are you sure you have an OT that is experienced and trained in sensory integration theories and treatment techniques? Are you sure YOU are doing therapy with him every day between official treatment sessions? Are they telling you what to do? It seems he should be further along after 19 months of therapy. He is under 3, so I am guessing you are involved in OT through an early intervention program? If

this is the case I wonder how experienced the OT is regarding SPD. Can you find out what experience and training they have? To find out who the BEST OT would be for your son and what YOU need to do to get the most out of therapy, please read The SPD Companion November 2007 Edition. This will help you understand and ensure you are getting the services your son truly needs.

Also, I want to make sure YOU are receiving the education you need regarding how SPD specifically relates to your son's issues, the specific techniques you need to follow through with in between therapies, and what the specific treatments address and how they help. For example, you say "THEY use pressure therapy, but I don't know what else to try". Do you understand what they are doing? Have they given you activities to do at home that are the same or similar? Are you consistent? Did they stress the importance of this? Have they recommended any books for you to read? If so, which ones? And, have you read them? Have they/you done the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol with him?

I want you to know, IF you have the proper OT treatment for him based on SI theories AND you follow through with any home programming, he will begin to regulate. That time will come. Until then... you will have to work hard to make him comfortable and able to 'change'.

For specific help regarding sleep and calming down for sleep, please read the SPD Q & A Submission... SPD And Toddler's Sleep Issues. Also, you can read MY Story and The REST Of My Story about how we were FINALLY able to get rid of our daughters pacifier.

Another idea? Will he tolerate water or flavored water (sugar free, i.e., "Fruit 2 O") in his bottle? Have you tried substituting another "chewy" (you'll see some products listed on this page) or other things he can suck on? Perhaps his OT is in favor of a weighted blanket?

Oh, and have you joined our online support group, AllAboutKids, which I have suggested, so you have a place to learn, find help & resources, and validation? If not, I highly recommend it for you!

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