Listening to parents who visit Ladybug House I often hear of the difficulties associated with sleep, or lack of it, for both parent and child. I found a useful reference from the raisingchildren.net.au website. I have provided a summary below, however I recommend reading the complete article here as they provide some initial strategies for dealing with sleeping problems.
Dealing with Sleep Difficulties in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Like all children, children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can have difficulties getting to sleep and staying asleep. Children with ASD can also have sleep problems that we don’t see as often in other children. These difficulties include:
- irregular sleeping and waking patterns – for example, lying awake until very late or early-morning waking
- sleeping much less than expected for their age, or being awake for more than an hour during the night
Children with ASD may have sleep difficulties as a result of:
- Communication difficulties
- Love of routine and bedtime habits
- Favourite objects and associations
Other reasons may include anxiety, hyperactivity, medical issues and medication. Children with ASD can have a lot of anxiety. This can make it hard for them to get to sleep, or get back to sleep after waking.
Children with ASD who don’t sleep well are more likely to have behaviour problems during the day. As with all children, persistent sleep problems can negatively affect the learning abilities of children with ASD. And research tells us that when children with ASD don’t sleep well, their parents are likely to experience poor sleep, high levels of stress and depression. So there are many good reasons for working on your child’s sleep habits.
Where to go for help?
You should consult your health professional if the techniques you try don’t seem to help after the first few days. You might be referred to a paediatrician, psychologist or other health professional experienced in treating children’s sleep.