Autism and stimulus attenuation
In practice, the CloudCuddle proves to be an appropriate tool for children and adults with autism. This probably has to do with the seclusion it offers. It has, in fact, a stimulation damping effect. Below we give you some background information about autism, stimulus processing and stimulus damping. In addition, we explain why good sleep is especially important for children with autism.
Each of us receives information through the senses. We see, smell, taste, feel and hear all kinds of things throughout the day. In addition to this so-called sensory information from the outside, we also have to deal with stimuli that come from the inside, namely from our thoughts and feelings. All this information we ‘process’ in our brain. The brain selects which information is important and which is less so. All stimuli are filtered by the brain, you could say. In people without autism this goes unnoticed and almost without problems.
Overexcitation and autism
People with autism register more stimuli than most other people. They receive a large amount of information through the senses. All sensory impressions, along with all the thoughts and feelings they have, must be processed by the brain. And the brain of people with autism is less able to distinguish between what is important and what is less important. The ‘filter’ works differently with them. You can imagine that such a mountain of information easily leads to overstimulation.
An overload of stimuli can lead to a kind of traffic jam or overload of information. Then it can all become too much and your (adult) child can get stuck in his head. Your son or daughter may ‘explode’ or turn in on themselves. Hence those anger attacks, crying fits or withdrawal. This constant overstimulation and the intense emotions that often accompany it, are very tiring for your child. In addition, fatigue itself is a trigger for a ‘system overload’. Sleeping well is therefore very important for your son or daughter.
Anxiety and stress in children with autism
Inner processes, such as thoughts and feelings, also affect your child’s well-being. Children with autism have more difficulty with unexpected situations and with situations they look up to. This also quickly leads to overstimulation and to anxiety and stress. Some children with autism are extremely good at putting themselves in someone else’s place; they have a great capacity for empathy. These children can become over-stimulated by the strong emotions of another person. This is probably because they have difficulty handling or regulating their own emotions. In addition, they probably cannot distinguish so well between the other person’s emotions and their own.
Sleep problems in autism
Sleep problems are a notable feature in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). As a parent or caregiver, you probably know this. This poor sleep has a major impact on your child’s social interactions with others, on the rest of his daily life, and on his learning performance. In addition, research shows that mothers often experience more stress due to their child’s sleep problems and that both parents often suffer from disturbed sleep themselves.
Good bed routine
Children with autism show a different pattern during REM sleep than average. REM stands for rapid eye movement and REM sleep is a deep sleep that provides physical recovery. So you need it to rest properly. Children with ASD also generally sleep shorter and they don’t stay in bed as long. What can help somewhat in children with ASD is a good bed routine, i.e., applying calmness and regularity to going to bed. In certain cases, pharmaceuticals, i.e. pills, can improve the sleep and therefore the quality of life of your child, which in turn can have a positive effect on the whole family. But not every parent finds this a pleasant solution.
Medical device for attenuation of stimuli
One way of preventing overstimulation is to ensure sufficient rest. With more energy your (adult) child will also be mentally fitter and be able to cope better. Creating good conditions for a good night’s sleep can help. One of the solutions to help your child sleep better is to sleep in a CloudCuddle. In everyday practice, we hear from various parents that their child with autism becomes calm almost immediately in a CloudCuddle. Some children also like to stay in the bed tent during the day. It really is their own enclosed space. And because the CloudCuddle can be taken anywhere, you can offer your child its own familiar spot wherever there is a single bed.
Did you know that the CloudCuddle also has the designation “medical device”? This is based on a scientific study which showed that (adult) children with autism benefit from a small, enclosed space. As a parent or carer of a child with autism, we can heartily recommend that you try out the CloudCuddle. Perhaps it will also be a solution for your child. Arrange a trial weekend or first rent a mobile bed tent to see if it is something for your family.
– Journal of Pediatric Neurosciences, 2015, october-december, 10(4): pages 304–307.
– Stichting AutiPassend Onderwijs Utrecht