Since Gabby was very small we've had difficulty getting her to go to sleep without a lot of tears from her and heartache for us. We've tried Super Nanny tactics, my doctor's recommendations, a thousand ways we've read about on the internet and still it's the same fight every night even though Gabby has had the exact same routine for a year and a half (which is 75% of her lifetime) and the result is always the same, a crying baby. (There is one way to get her to soundly go to sleep and that is allowing her to go to bed with milk, but I would rather her cry a little each night than to have teeth with cavities.)
A few nights ago something finally clicked in my head. I try not to be too much of a speech pathologist to Gabby because I am her mommy and she is developing normally so I try to think in mommy mode rather than SLP mode. Desperate I thought what would I recommend to another Mom at work and it clicked. Any time a parent is having a serious difficulty with a transition or necessary routine in a child's life I suggest writing a social story, which is a fancy way of saying: write a story of the routine you need improvement with and tell the child how they are expected to feel. As soon as we laid Gabby down I eagerly wrote the story using pictures I found from the internet clip art selection. I plan on using pictures of Gabby throughout the story but until we have time to take those pictures these pictures will work.
Michael printed the pages the next day, put the pages in order and folded it into a book. So in a little over an hour of effort I had a life altering book. We've only used the book two nights and tonight Gabby actually laid down when we put her in the crib and she gave a cry of protest, but never made a sad noise afterward. Amazing! I hope it's not too good to be true and I know some nights will be easier than others, but if most nights can end in nothing more than a whimper, I call it a success.
In case you are curious about how to write a social story here is Gabby's. I wrote it in a free template from word and the story was twelve pages including the title page. I tried to make each page only have about two sentences to maintain her attention. It's nothing to brag about but it's made a huge difference with only an hour of effort. (Sorry it's not a picture of each page, but I didn't feel right posting the pages since at the moment they are pictures borrowed from the internet).
GABBY GETS READY FOR BEDGabby is getting ready for bed. First she takes a bath.She loves to splash and play in the bubbles.After Gabby’s bath she likes to put on her pajamas. They are comfy and help her sleep better at night.Gabby likes to watch her favorite show with Mommy andDaddy and read books before she goes to sleep at night.Gabby likes cuddling with Mommy and Daddyuntil it’s bedtime.Gabby is ready to go to sleep now. Gabby hugs and kisses Daddy and tells him goodnight. Gabby is very sleepy now. She hugs and kisses mommy and tells her goodnight.Gabby hugs Meow and cuddles with her blanket because she is so sleepy. Gabby closes her eyes and falls to sleep so she can be ready for a fun day tomorrow.Gabby did a good job and did not cry when Mommy and Daddy left the room.Mommy and Daddy went in their room and went to sleep.The next morning Gabby wakes and Mommy hugs herand says good morning.