B is 7 years old next month. He is a wanderer. If you let him loose he would be halfway to the state line before you could catch him. This has always posed a bit of a problem at bedtime. How can you keep your ASD wanderer safe at night and still get some sleep yourself?
There are several bed tents on the market targeted toward this problem. All of them are crazy expensive. We started out with the Nickel Bed Tent. It sells for $159.99. It was a good concept poorly executed. To start off with the shipping is slow as Christmas. Once we finally got it they sent us a pink one instead of a blue one. I paid more shipping to send it back and they shipped me the correct one. Putting it together is relatively easy. It has the shock corded poles like the ones that come with regular camping tents. I was immediately skeptical of the durability, but I kept an open mind. B was 3 at the time. The tent is a pain to take down and put back up if you need to wash it or travel with it. The screening is like tissue and runs like pantyhose at the slightest poke. Its also very closed in meaning the visibility from the inside is limited. The worst thing is that it is so short. There really is no way to grow up with it. If we still used this at age 7, it would be like B was sleeping in a sausage casing. The Nickle Bed Tent is a huge waste of a lot of money, and was destroyed by a 3 year old in less than a year.
I didn’t even try the other tents sold under the Autism umbrella. The Safe Sleeper looks awesome, but its thousands of dollars. Same thing with the Noah Bed which is about $5,000!
Last year I posted about traveling with the kiddos. There’s a snapshot of the tent we used for a long time. Its a SansBug. Its marketed to campers who need protection from malaria infested mosquitoes. Its under $75, and although we went through 3 the first year, it was better and cheaper than the other tent we tried.
Last year while trying to find a cheaper price on the SansBug replacement, I came across the tent we use now and will continue to use forever if they keep making it. Please God, let them keep making it! Its called Gnat Guard. The mesh is tougher than the SansBug by far. We have only had to replace it once this year, and that was my fault because I let B take a car to bed with him and he poked an edge through the mesh.
Here is the setup we have now. Both kiddos are sleeping in these beds. L likes to copy big brother so we let him even though he doesn’t wander and doesn’t need the tent.
I bought a memory foam mattress to go inside. I laid the tent on top of the mattress and traced the shape with a marker. I then cut the foam with an electric turkey carver. It fits snug inside the tent with a regular twin sheet. I bought a metal platform bed and used the tie down loops on the tent to secure the whole thing to the frame with 550 cord. I also made sure to cut off the zipper pulls on the inside and the outside. The outside ones were replaced with a key ring loop and a carabiner. Its secure. No one has gotten out yet. They sleep very well, and the tent is tall enough that they can sit up and not hit their head.
Here are all the Amazon links to everything we have here.
The entire thing -tent, mattress, bed frame- was around $200. Its tough as nails. The tent folds up fast for travel. If we are on a trip we use an inflatable camping mattresses inside the tents. It works perfectly, and the kids sleep just like they are at home. It alleviates so much anxiety for them because its just like at home.
Let me know if there are any questions. I would love for every parent of a wanderer to be able to get a better night’s sleep. This set up saved us and it only took me 2 years to figure it out!