D has been on Melatonin for nearly two years. We were offered it during one of our paediatric appointments when we discussed her sleep issues.
Prior to Melatonin, she wouldn’t settle until about 10pm at night and would then be up in the early hours, reliving her day. Bearing in mind she was in mainstream at the time and unstatemented, sleep was a rare commodity.
We always had and still do have a structured bedtime routine. Bath with me where we talk about her day, then story then settling down. I had previously tried CDs of stories or a baby classical music CD but neither worked and I didn’t want her to be a child who couldn’t sleep without something on in the background.
Melatonin is classed as an unlicensed medication in this country and GPs are not allowed to prescribe it. I have to order a prescription every 3 months and am allocated one 250ml bottle for her per month. I don’t know why, but I always feel guilty re-ordering, as if I’m failing her as a parent because she needs this (natural) medication to sleep.
The melatonin medication replicates the sleep hormone that is missing in many autistic children, it’s entirely natural and we haven’t encountered any side effects. It does have a warning on the bottle that it may make you drowsy!
We have tried not giving her melatonin to see what happens and it’s awful. No sleep til very late and then it’s not a deep sleep, the slightest noise wakes her and anxieties then come out.
It does slightly annoy me that everytime the prescription arrives, it comes with “helpful” papers from the pharmacy detailing the importance of a routine at bedtime. With an autistic child, routine is key!!
I have also seen a letter on my doctors screen saying that D has been on the melatonin for a while and maybe she should be weaned off it. I steered the conversation around to routines and how we had tried and failed without melatonin and no mention was made of it.
So, it works for us but obviously each child is different. The sleep hormone can also be found in milk taken from cows in the evening if that is a preference.