Sleep Help for Kids with Special Needs
You are a loving, dedicated parent of a child with special needs…
…but you’ve reached a critical point when it comes to your child’s sleep. You. are. exhausted! You may wryly joke with friends and therapists about how your sleeplessness is just part of your job description, but really — it’s not a badge you feel honored wearing.
Your child has not been able to get a good night’s sleep in….forever!? You’re constantly trying to come up with that magic combination of techniques that will allow your special needs child to drift off easier. But often, you’re finding yourself rocking them at 3am, pulling out the iPad 2 hours after bedtime, constantly walking your child back to their room because you know she’ll get into something she shouldn’t.
All you’ve been fantasizing about for who knows how long is getting your nights back! And, you know in reality you and your child will just barely be getting through.
I’ve met so many families like yours and I know how hard you’ve struggled.
Hi, I’m Melissa Doman.
I’m a sleep consultant for special needs families who are fed up with sleepless nights and are ready to find solutions. They’ve had it with stress, anxiety, and the professionals that tell them there’s nothing to be done about their child’s sleep problems. I help parents like you and their kids sleep great, so that everyone can thrive the next day!
I’ve had the privilege to be around children with special needs for as long as I can remember. My mother worked in a clinic with special needs children and their parents, and after school I often was in the clinic waiting for her and having a chance to meet and play with some amazing kids and young adults who were differently abled.
On our drives home, my mom would tell us about all the amazing things she had seen these kids learn to do, and how they were getting better. I took for granted that all special needs families were given these chances and this hope. As a child, I never thought twice that a child with special needs couldn’t improve and thrive. I had seen it day in, and day out.
It wasn’t until I was in high school, and saw how little people expected of my fellow classmates with special needs. Sure, the teachers were nice and friendly. But, because these students couldn’t talk right, move right, or did things that were unusual, it was automatically assumed that they were limited and couldn’t learn how to excel. Although I could only observe from afar, I knew this group of kids were constantly picked on, ridiculed, and embarrassed on a daily basis by other students.
It broke my heart to see wasted potential and lack of respect for my wonderful classmates.
While in college, I made the decision to make it my life’s work to help children and adults with special needs reach their full potential. In 2009, I started my training as a Doman Method Coach, based on the methods of Glenn Doman (and my future grandfather-in-law!) Working in the same clinic as my mother, I was again meeting children from around the world, with all sorts of different diagnoses, and learning just how plastic the brain could be and what these kids were capable of. Each day, I saw kids who had come from blindness to seeing and reading, from complete immobility to crawling and walking, and more!
As a Doman Method Coach, my primary role was being a support for the parents of these children. My job was to teach them the therapies, help keep everyone on track, and make sure that their child was succeeding once the family got back home. But the one question I was not able to answer for my families was:
“How do I get my kid to sleep better?”
Session after session, my parents would open up to me and tell me how exhausted everyone was, and what their typical nights looked like. What became abundantly clear to me was that if I was going to help a child and their parents with their therapy program, they would have to sleep better. At a certain point, I had enough of seeing exhausted parents across from my desk, desperately trying to go through the motions of their child’s treatment program.
Their treatment plan just wasn’t moving forward, and no one was making progress. And, my families were losing motivation to keep going.
In 2016, one of these amazing families finally pointed me in the right direction. I had just started working with their little boy, who had severe cerebral palsy. He was waking nearly 20 times a night, napping poorly, and the parents could see the writing on the wall — there was no way they were going to be able to carry out the therapy program I had designed for them.
Searching online, his parents found the Sleep Sense Program by Dana Obleman. They took her book and within just 3 weeks, their little boy was sleeping through the night and finally napping well. His mom and dad found themselves staring at each other at 7pm thinking, “Well, what do we do with all this free time?” A few months later, they told me they were expecting Baby #4!
At that point, I read Dana’s book and started to coach my families through the basic information that I had. I received more and more reports that kids were FINALLY sleeping! I was so excited to know that there was an answer, and it just took the right steps and consistency! But, I knew my work wasn’t finished. There were thousands of special needs families who were desperate for this help, and they had no resources to turn towards. It was then that I decided that I needed to become a certified sleep consultant, and help other parents who were struggling.
And it all made sense — of course kids with special needs could learn to sleep well.
The world uses diagnoses and labels to put kids like yours in a box. As soon as a label is put on a child, parents are told about all the limits that child is going to have, and what they’ll never be able to do. Time and time again, parents have to sit in doctors’ offices and hear the same disheartening prognosis over and over.
Assumptions are made about their child because of the label, and specialists can’t see past that. Seldom are parents given clear guidance or hope that things can get better. But, I understand that children with special needs are not their diagnosis — they are kids.
Children like yours need to be seen for who they are – what they are able to do, their personality, and respect that they are very intelligent but can’t always express it yet. The reason your child isn’t sleeping well is not because they have autism, Trisomy 21, etc. It’s because they haven’t learned their own self-soothing strategies, or they don’t know the boundaries around bedtime. They don’t have their own skills yet!
They simply just needed to be given the chance!
Parents need to have the right tools, and someone who really understands their child, their struggles, and what they were capable of.
And today, I’ve had the pleasure of helping dozens and dozens of special needs families get their sleep back. I’ve been able to use my knowledge as a Doman Method Coach and a Sleep Sense Consultant to create sleep plans for each and every child I’ve worked with. With the right tools, you and your family can be better rested and less stressed.
It gives me great joy to know that these families not only have their sleep back, but they can see just what their brilliant child is capable of.
If you are ready to begin your family’s journey to better night’s rest, I am here to help and pave the path for you. To learn more about how I can help you and your child with special needs