Daylight Saving Time is something I dread the twice a year it rolls around. The time change can be hard on any child but when you’ve got one kid with ADHD and another with PDD-NOS like I do, it can be even more difficult. My ADHD child already gets up before anyone else in the house so when it’s time to fall back, he’s getting up even earlier then usual until he adjusts to the change. My PDD-NOS child (pervasive development disorder on the autism scale) is a stickler for routine and trying to keep him in bed until it’s the “right” time to get up is often near impossible. Since they aren’t getting the proper sleep they need, neither am I. I finally decided that I’d had enough. There had to be something I could do instead of all of us walking around like grump zombies so I did some research to see if I could make any changes. If you’re in the same boat, this article will help you out by giving you a few tips.
#1: Stick to Your Routine
I’ll admit that it is easy to get out of a routine when daylight savings occurs. In the beginning we’ve done things at the “old” time instead of the changed time. When I stuck to our routine by what the clock said it was difficult in the beginning but as the time went on my sons got used to doing it at the new time and felt comforted by sticking to their familiar routine. Do things the way you normally do. If dinner is at a certain time, keep it at your usual hour; don’t keep the same time you were on before daylight savings time occurred.
#2: Move their Bedtime Back a Few Minutes at a Time before Daylight Saving Time
This is an old favorite of many and admittedly it worked to a degree with my kids. The week before Daylight Saving, start putting them to bed five to fifteen minutes early. For example, if bedtime is at 7:30 , put them to bed at 7:25 ; do the same time the next night. Then move it to ten minutes and then fifteen minutes before bedtime. This will help their bodies adjust to the upcoming time change which may make bedtime a little easier for you.
#3: Put Them Back to Bed if They Wake Early
If your kids wake up early, put them back to bed if it is not time to get up. In the beginning my kids would not go back to sleep but they were able to lie there somewhat quietly until I gave the OK to get up. As time passes, your special needs child should start getting up around the usual time.
#4: Be Patient
I’m not going to lie. Having a special needs child can be very difficult but they can’t help being special needs. I get frustrated sometimes but I know it is best not to show my child that I am getting stressed out from trying to adjust them to daylight savings time. Instead I remain as calm as possible. If they see I am getting upset, it can upset my children more which in turn will not have them go to sleep on time.
#5: Give it Time
Above everything else, give it time. Your special needs child is not going to magically adjust to daylight savings time the first night. It was going into the second week before my kids started to show that they were getting up at “normal” times. All you can really do is to give it time. Stick to your methods, help your children work through the time change. In the end hopefully you and your children will be getting the full eight plus hours a sleep a night.