Sleep and the child with special needs.

We’ve discovered one benefit of gross motor activities.  It’s honestly a bit serendipitous. Gross motor sensory activities help kids learn better, and it seems they help Parker sleep better.   Even crashing out in mid-activity. Okay.  So maybe it works for any kid.   For us the issue of sleep and the child with special needs has been a tiring one, and I’m going to hold tight to any success I come by.

A child with down syndrome


We are still deep within the sick season here.  This means that Parker is spending his time at home and craves activities to get those gross motor muscles pumping.

If I could just figure out how to get a jungle gym set up in our basement, I’d have it made I think.

feet and oxygen tubing

We walk up and down the stairs a zillion times.  Slide on his indoor slide.  He runs around the basement and climbs on anything that will stand still long enough for him to scale it……including therapists and siblings.

Without enough gross motor activity, Parker will wake up, like clock work, at 3:30 a.m. and bounce around like a maniac until about 6:00 a.m. and then crash again, wanting to sleep in to around 11:00.   And that boys and girls is with a Clonidine  down his g-tube each night.

A little boy with Down syndrome

We’ve had a recent sleep study and so we know it isn’t anything so much medical as it is a typical Hodson boys need to get all their energy out.  Did you know that just one Hodson boy could light up the entire state of Utah?  Now if only we could figure out how to harness it we’d be rich.

Do your kids struggle from sleep issues?  How do you work with them……or better yet solve them?  How do you make sure your kids get enough activity in to be able to sleep an entire night? 


About Tammy and Parker

Special Needs Blogger, and homeschooling Mom, heavily involved in advocacy for all kids with special needs in Utah.


  1. FunMumX3 says:

    Weighted blanket helped us – and we never did actually invest in the expensive kind, just swapped out bed quilts for one that had a real weight to it, and Miss 18 started sleeping better instantly. Was a bunch of years ago now… maybe 12? So don’t remember all the details but it sure worked like a charm!

  2. FunMumX3 says:

    Oh, and maybe a kid-sized hamster wheel? I want one of those!

  3. Trampoline has helped. Dancing with videos playing on TV. They make kids’ treadmills that aren’t powered, they just have some resistance to walk against. We got Alex a bunk bed so he can climb. And an “egg” chair from IKEA for spinning.

    I’ve seen people build a frame of 2x4s to hang swings and such from….

  4. Here’s what we did that seems to help (most of the time): we are absolute “sleep nazis” – nap and bedtimes are written in stone and we work very hard to maintain a routine. If we stray from the routine one day, we pay for MANY days afterward. It stinks, but it works. Also: room darkening shades, white noise (ocean waves on a sound machine), and, when she seems extra keyed up or hyper, we do brushing, massage or “squeezies” (deep tissue pressure up her feet, legs, hands & arms). Finally, we use this sleep-training light:


    If the bunny isn’t “awake” she knows she has to stay in bed quietly. When we started using it, we did big time reinforcement (PRIZES) when she stayed in bed until the bunny was awake. Now, it just happens, and it’s WONDERFUL.

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