Friday, July 6, 2012

Sleeping & Map Updates!

I recently talked about how Ethan was entering a new phase of getting out of bed on his own in a post titled A New Sleeping Challenge. I LOVE that he has this new independence, but we were very worried for his safety. One morning, I woke up to....what I thought was....a prowler in our basement. When I got up to investigate, I realized that Ethan wasn't in his bed. I instantly went into crazy mama mode thinking someone was taking my child. As I quickly & non-rationally made my way through the house, I was met on our basement stairs by a very scared Ethan....who was crying & said to me, "Oh Mommy! There you are! I lost you!" Not only was I super sad that he thought he lost me, but our basement at the time was in no shape for him to be unsupervised due to us converting it into a sensory playroom (update on that later this week). This sent us into action that day.

A couple of weeks prior to this, Ethan began a summer preschool program at Easter Seals. The drive is about 35 minutes, and he would get very anxious on this "long" drive. So, I came up with the idea to give him a map to help him realize where he was at in his journey. You can read more about this on my post titled Maps. Since that first map, we have created many more, and we now have a variety for Ethan to choose from....although he loves to receive a new one.

Who knew that these two situations would collide?! In order to help Ethan understand what he should do if he gets out of bed before his parents (which is happening nightly....about 3am), my husband built off of our map idea! Since he does the bedtime routine and is excellent at explaining things to Ethan, he introduced Ethan to his new bedtime map. Corey also does vinyl work as a hobby so he used a couple of leftover pieces to cut out shapes for our floor & create a path for Ethan to follow....just like on his map! (Stickers or colored tape would work too!) It's hard to explain in words, so here are a few pictures....

Here is our collection of Maps to get us to Easter Seals. Ethan will play with these even on days when we don't have class!

Here is Ethan's nighttime map. It's very worn because, again, Ethan will play with it during the day. It leads Ethan from his racecar bed, to the bathroom & then to our bedroom to find me. Notice the white stars & the orange circles.

Here, Corey laid out a path of white stars from Ethan's room to the bathroom & then orange stickers from the bathroom to our bedroom.

A closeup of the sticker paths.

We also installed extra locks on the doors that we don't want Ethan to get into....we placed them high enough so even with a step stool, Ethan can't reach them. We did this the day we found Ethan in the basement. I'm just so glad he didn't go outside!

This nighttime map has been working GREAT! In fact, I don't even think he uses the map anymore....he knows what to do now. But he still likes to play with it during the day.....line his cars up on the paths or practice the routine. I'm not quite ready to remove this visual aid quite yet, but that is more for me....I don't want to find him crying & scared because he can't find me!

He is still getting up in the middle of the night most nights, but we just pull him into our bed....which may be why he is doing it. :0) But, in a weird way, I almost sleep better after he comes in....I know where he is & know he isn't roaming the house. Eventually, we will have to put him back in his bed....I know that will be the next step.....and then maybe he will stop getting up in the middle of the night....who knows. But until I know things are cemented into his mind as to what to do in the middle of the night, I am more concerned about his safety & knowing he is ok....even if that means more cups of coffee during the day.

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