After trying ‘Cry-It-Out’ unsuccessfully, Jamie was looking for a gentle method to support her son and his sensory processing disorder.
How would Simon fall asleep before Sleep School?
Sleeping was a very lengthy and delicate process. The routine was me coming into the room with him, we’d sit in a chair and I’d tell him stories. I would have to hold him on my lap, up against my chest, and wait for him to fall asleep. Sometimes he would sleep in a few minutes, sometimes up to 30. I would have to hold him the whole time. I had to make sure he was asleep enough so I would have to hold him for a while longer and then very delicately stand up, readjust him, and walk over to the crib. And as he’s a tummy sleeper, I had to put him down trying not to wake him up at the same time.
There were some nights he would wake up and cry, as he would be mad at me for putting him down. I got pretty good at it after a while. I had to make sure he was settled and sneak out, then hope he would stay asleep throughout the night. Usually, it took me 1 hour. It was really stressful, I remember when I would do the walk over to the bed, I could feel my heart racing. I’d get very anxious to get out and on with my evening. I remember thinking: ‘Gosh, is it gonna work, and is he gonna stay asleep, or do I have the start the whole process all over again?’. If he woke up during the night, I was not able to get him to go back to sleep and had to co-sleep with him for the rest of the night. There was a lot of co-sleeping in the first couple of years.
“I learnt a lot during the consultation about what was going wrong and why”
How did you feel after Simon’s Sleep Consultation?
I was excited – I felt like a weight had been lifted because I learned so much during the consultation about why he didn’t want to be in his crib, and about him trusting the sleep space. It made me think about what was going on for him, how he felt, and why he was not comfortable. It was very enlightening and educational. I felt hopeful that there would be a solution that I would actually want to try compared to all the other solutions that didn’t work or we didn’t want to try because that seemed too harsh. I learned a lot during the consultation about what was going wrong, and why things were happening the way they were. I was very hopeful that there was something we could do about it to help him sleep independently and to be able to sleep through the night – and also get time back for ourselves too!
“We thought: we don’t have anything to lose, if it actually works we will get a kid who falls asleep independently and through the night, without CIO”
How was your experience with our method?
When we first realized we needed to help him sleep independently, we had a lot of people telling us Cry It Out or modified CIO, or stand next to the crib and patted him a bit, or leave the room and come back… But as a sensory processing disorder child who struggled with self-regulation, that just did not work for Simon. Every time we tried different modified CIO methods it made me feel sick, it felt like I was abandoning him, breaking trust. It just made things worse. We didn’t want to go down that road, and it was just so harsh. Especially as a sensory kid, he can’t calm himself down – well, toddlers cant – but it’s particularly bad for him. And Simon couldn’t figure that one out on his own without a structure in place. That was definitely a huge factor compared to other methods, as it’s not CIO or modified CIO. Batelle is gentle, it is a process and I could see the value in that. I figured it’s not a method that is gonna make him angry. We thought: we don’t have anything to lose, if it actually works we will get a kid who falls asleep independently and through the night, without CIO. I am so thankful that we did.
What were the highlights of your Sleep School journey?
We had a jumpstart on Sleep School because of Simon’s sensory issues. I am amazed at how well he responded to it – I really didn’t think that would happen. I thought we would struggle our way through. Things were done step by step, in small manageable steps that we could understand and small changes he could understand and get used to slowly. We were also building on those skills. He was able to learn as I was learning, and it helped me better understand sleep and what helps him self-regulate. It helped him so much with his regulation outside of sleep, too.
Watching him grow over that first week and adjust to the steps – and being able at the end of that first week to have me outside of the room and falling asleep on his own – made me really proud of him as a parent. He adjusted, and he learned, and we did it together. It gave me a lot of confidence as a parent.
“Simon’s Occupational Therapist noticed a big difference after Sleep School”
Did you notice any other Sleep School benefits?
The biggest thing we noticed is that when he would get angry when playing and not getting his way, he was able to calm down faster and on his own. His occupational therapist noticed a big difference in Simon after Sleep School. He was able to figure out how to regulate a lot faster, which was a huge win. If he can regulate better, I am also able to stay calmer! So we are a lot happier in the household now that everybody is a bit more balanced.
“I love The Hug as it helps him stay put, and he loves it because it’s cosy and soft, and he snuggles in it”
How did you feel about The Hug - our Sleep Sack?
When I first saw it, I thought it was innovative and brilliant and saw how it would be beneficial. But – I never thought Simon would go in it! As a sensory kid, he needs the input that compression gives him but with limits. I was wondering ‘how am I gonna make him get in the hug, and for 10-12 hours at a time?’. But eventually, he got in a couple of minutes at a time to get used to it with Sleep School’s playtime activities. Now, he loves it and it helps him regulate and stay calm. I love it because he is not in a crib, he doesn’t feel trapped and he is also safe in his bed and not wandering around. It helps him stay put, and he loves it because it’s cozy and soft, and he snuggles in it. I am so glad we have it.