Night Terrors? | Autism PDD


Over the past three weeks, Kaden has started having these "episodes" in the middle of the night.  He wakes from a sound sleep and starts screaming and crying and is inconsolable.  The first two times he did it, he would keep saying "My stoot" and holding his foot in a strange position.  So we took him to the doctor but they couldn't find anything wrong with his foot.

About a week passed and it didn't happen again until this past Monday night .  The episodes last about 30 minutes.  He appears to be awake but doesn't really acknowledge anyone.  But if you ask him "Do you want a drink?"  He'll answer "yes".

The only thing I can think of is night terrors?  Has anyone experienced these?  Is this what they typically look like? 

My little one had them for a few weeks after his surgeries, but they have since gone away.

The leg pain could be growing pains, as my middle child experiences this from time to time.  I rub his legs and it seems to help.


I was thinking, since my DH has them, of CHARLEY HORSES!  Usually in his calves, but sometimes, yes, in a FOOT.

They can be excruciating and fade with no furhter symptoms ... is he on magnesium supplement?  It is supposed to be helpful.

HTH.  We have night terrors, and sleepwalking, too!


Yes, wide awake, but not really concious ( sp?) I can't wake Payne from these. I more of less am a by-stander. They don't happen often & I haven't been able to put my finger on why either.  They were mostly when he was having seizures still around 2 if I remember. He's only had 1 or 2 since. He has trouble explaining what was going on - but he cries inconsolably. Eventually he will go back to sleep and be fine the rest of the night.

Ali was having night terrors like this for several months. Oddly, she even started having them in the day, she would go from awake walking and talking to her eyes closed, screaming, crying and only partially with it. That happened a couple times, but I would say since she was 18 months old till she was 2, she had a good 30 of them. Then only a few since then....she seemed to stop having them when she started sleeping in the bed with me. I am not sure why. I know we were going through custody stuff with the court when her dad and I were divorcing and she once said while she was crying "someone will take me away from you...I won't see you again" and so I wonder if it was insecurity causing them. Since she started supervised visits with her dad and I am always with her other than work, she has only had several. When they first started though, I remember how heart wrenching it was to watch....often if I tried to talk to her she would flip out and bang her head and flail about. I wish I had some answers for you... good luck to you!

It could be night terrors but the foot reference makes me think growing pains.  It could possibly be the lower portion of his leg hurting and into his foot area.  My boys get these a lot and they wake up crying cuz it hurts.  They will go on for a few weeks and then go away like they never existed.  A few weeks later their pants are an inch to short.  When the boys do this I give them a dose of tylenol or ibuprofen and rub their legs for a few minutes and then they will go back to sleep.  I always feel horrible for them when it happens but unfortunately it is just part of being a kid and growing so quickly.


Now that you say that, many times when Kaden wakes from his nap, he is very cranky and irritable for awhile.  I have to hold him on my lap and let him snuggle for awhile before he's able to "face the world".  Maybe those have been daytime night terrors all along?

Is there anything I can do for him?  He gets so hysterical.  I tried to get him a pillow the other night while he was in the midst of all of this and I thought he was doing to explode.  Its so hard to watch him like that.

My son had night-terrors too, when he was about 2-1/2.  It seemed like he was having leg cramps, too.  Calcium and potassium are supposed to help leg cramps, so try to make sure your son gets plenty of that in his diet (hopefully he's not a picky eater).  Pointing his toes would probably make it worse, flexing his foot up would probably make it better, but I don't know if your son will let you manipulate his foot.

My son's night terrors actually stopped about the time that he got diagnosed with atopical eczema, and we started putting lotion on him regularly.

I think it's quite likely that night terrors are triggered by physical discomfort (like itchy skin or a leg cramp) or aren't actually night terrors at all but meltdowns caused by physical discomfort.  The problem is, autistic kids can't always make sense of their body sensations, and they can't communicate very well, so the result is frustration and screaming.

With night terrors, they say that trying to rouse or otherwise interact with the child is only going to prolong it.  And our experience comfirmed that "ignoring it" worked best.  I'd have my son on my lap without holding him tight, and just wait until it subsided.  My husband also tried putting him in the shower, and he did snap out of it, but it didn't really seem like the best way to go.

Good luck with everything.

My son had these a lot in between 8 and 13.  He is still a very restless sleeper from what my dh says.  He would have the night frights during the day as well if he didn't get enough sleep at night (like after a know where the kids DON'T go to sleep).  It was so scary...we called thinking he needed to be admitted to the mental hospital.  However we took him to the ped. doctor ..explained what happened and he said he was having night frights during the day due to loss of sleep probably.  He sleepwalked for most of his life too.

When my son had these night frights...we would gently talk to him and tell him to go back to sleep and lay down.  Once he layed back down and seemed to be asleep...we left.  Which usually didn't take too long.

Sarah had these when she was @ 2 years old and they were terrible.  I couldn't hold her, or calm her in anyway.  It would last forever~ I remember feeling so helpless as a mom and she would look at me like she didn't even know me:(

    I tried singing to her, rocking her and to the extreme of putting her in warm bath thinking it would wake her up...the ONLY thing that snapped her out of it was "Teletubbies" Video..after many trials and errors we popped in video and she came out of it within minutes..had to wait till video was over to get her back to sleep though

   Don't remember her having sx of leg cramps? But who knows?? Does your son have a favorite video~worth a shot:)

    I think  it was after being deprived of her nap and alot of activities going on in the day... At age 3 they were rare occurance but she started the tantrums that were really similiar~ screaming hysterically over nothing that lasted for over an hour sometimes.  I would always think "oh she is tired, or bowel problems, Couldn't find a real source of them because they came out of nowhere

Thank God the tantrums stopped and she doesn't have these no more ...just typical fits when she dont get her way

   I wish I had some answers for you.  I never really knew what caused Ali' is some info I found though:


Night Terrors Symptoms: Sudden awakening from sleep, persistent fear or terror that occurs at night, screaming, sweating, confusion, rapid heart rate, inability to explain what happened, usually no recall of "bad dreams" or nightmares, may have a vague sense of frightening images. Many people see spiders, snakes, animals or people in the room, are unable to fully awake, difficult to comfort, with no memory of the event on awakening the next day.

Fast Facts about
Night Terrors
*What you do during night terrors can be dangerous i.e. walking into objects or using kitchen appliances.
Children from age two to six are most prone to night terrors, and they affect about fifteen percent of all youngsters, (although people of any age may experience them). Episodes may re-occur for a couple of weeks then suddenly disappear. Strong evidence has shown that a predisposition to night terrors and other parasomniac disorders can be passed genetically. Though there are a multitude of triggers, emotional stress during the previous day and a high fever are thought to precipitate most episodes. Ensuring that the right amount of sleep is gained is an important factor. Special consideration must be used when the subject suffers from Narcolepsy. Quite often the dream is manifest with a temporary paralysis with vivid recall of events leading up to , as well as the climax of the night terror. Finally, do not attempt to waken a subject during the dream, but, talk to them in a warm and comforting tone, as this can be very supportive to he/she who is helplessly in the throes of a bad session.

Night Terrors Treatment

Self-Care at Home

Parents might take the following precautions at home: 

Medical Treatment

Unfortunately, no adequate treatment exists for night terrors. Management primarily consists of educating the family about the disorder and reassuring them that the episodes are not harmful.
In severe cases in which daily activities (for example, school performance or peer or family relations) are affected, tricyclic antidepressants (such as imipramine) may be used as a temporary treatment.


If your child has several night terrors, you can try to interrupt his/her sleep in order to prevent the night terror.


Hope this helps a little...

Kaden's foot might have fallen asleep and have that numb sensation with the painful tingling that occurs when the blood flow returns.  The fact that he answers you when you ask him "Do you want a drink?" makes me question whether it is a true night terror episode.   But he is at the age when night terrors are commonly seen.  I remember Eric used to wake up crying once in a while when his foot fell asleep - he was verbal enough then to tell me his foot hurt, but when he was about 2 yrs old and non-verbal, he had night terrors occasionally and would wake screaming and running around the house, not able to respond to anything.Dylan had this the other night. He got up out of his bed and said He couldn't sleep so he laid down on the loveseat and he slept here all night.Hope this helps. Hubby slept on couch so he wasn't alone in living room.momoftwinsdd39166.7636111111