Helping Children with Autism Sleep Alone

March 11, 2024

For many parents of children with autism, getting their child to sleep alone can be a significant challenge. Issues such as sensory sensitivities, anxiety, and difficulty with transitions can make the bedtime routine particularly challenging. However, with patience, consistency, and the right strategies, it is possible to help your child with autism develop the skills they need to sleep independently. Here are some tips to consider:

1. Establish a Consistent Bedtime Routine
Consistency is key when it comes to helping children with autism sleep alone. Establishing a predictable bedtime routine can help signal to your child that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Include calming activities such as reading a book, listening to soft music, or taking a warm bath to help your child relax before bedtime.

2. Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment
Make sure your child’s bedroom is conducive to sleep. This means ensuring the room is dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. Consider using blackout curtains, white noise machines, or weighted blankets to create a soothing sleep environment that helps your child feel secure and relaxed.

3. Gradually Transition to Independent Sleep
If your child is accustomed to sleeping with you or in your room, it may take time to transition to sleeping alone. Start by gradually moving your child’s bed closer to their own room, or spending time in their room with them until they fall asleep. Over time, gradually decrease your presence until your child feels comfortable sleeping alone.

4. Use Visual Supports
Visual supports such as picture schedules or social stories can help prepare your child for the bedtime routine and ease anxiety about sleeping alone. Create a visual schedule that outlines the steps of the bedtime routine, including brushing teeth, changing into pajamas, and getting into bed. This can provide your child with a sense of predictability and structure.

5. Provide Comfort and Reassurance
It’s important to provide comfort and reassurance to your child as they adjust to sleeping alone. Offer plenty of praise and encouragement for their efforts, and reassure them that you are nearby if they need you. Consider leaving a comforting object such as a favorite stuffed animal or blanket in their bed to provide additional comfort.


Helping a child with autism learn to sleep alone can be a challenging process, but with patience, consistency, and understanding, it is possible to achieve success. By establishing a consistent bedtime routine, creating a comfortable sleep environment, gradually transitioning to independent sleep, using visual supports, and providing comfort and reassurance, you can help your child develop the skills they need to sleep alone.

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