When we speak of melatonin and its uses in helping an autistic child, we must understand two variables.
- What exactly is autism?
- How does melatonin help herein?
In most basic terms, autism is a developmental condition that affects interactive and receptive abilities of people to their surroundings. This disorder is diagnosed during one’s childhood.
One characteristic of children who have autism is a cycle of disrupted sleep and rest. Lack of sleep causes them to become irate, and hence aggravates their condition.
So how does melatonin help?
Before we answer this question, let’s first have an overview of natural melatonin.
Melatonin, when naturally produced in one’s body, regulates the sleep cycle of an individual. In other words, it helps to regulate the biological clock thereby spacing the human activity cycle. The gland that releases natural melatonin is called the pineal gland. Both of these work in conjunction, when the brain center sends them a signal. And this signaling center is called Suprachiasmatic Nucleus or SCN.
In autistic children, lack of sleep comes as common trait of their condition. And this is where melatonin comes to their rescue. As we have seen already, melatonin is a hormone, which is tasked with regulation of slumber. Since autistic children face a hindrance in natural slumber, one might use melatonin supplements to help them fall asleep.
Autistic children benefit from the intake of these supplements. They induce better sleep at night, owing to increased hormone circulation in their bloodstream. A good night’s sleep also improves their behavior during the day.
But, one must exercise caution while considering the administration of slaappillen melatonine to the child..
A high dose results in the following drawbacks.
- Difficulty in waking up during the day.
Thus while administering the melatonin supplement, there are a few controls that parents and caregivers must bear in mind.
- Timing of the medicine.
- Dosage being given to the child.
- Response of the child to the medicine.
- Effect of the supplement.
- Spaces between periods of administration.
The ideal dosage of the melatonin sleep aid that has best effects is between 1-6mg. And it is favourable to administer the dose 30 minutes before the child goes to sleep.
Paedriaticians also suggest that there should be a space between periods of continuous administration of melatonin. A week’s gap between two courses of usage is best.
Of course, professional aid is a must when parents consider this alternative. With the right advice, and controls, using melatonin supplements can help the autistic child get a better activity schedule.
And a proper activity schedule is always healthy, and preferable for the child to grow.