According to Australia’s Learning Discoveries Psychological Services, “Researchers estimate that sleep disorders affect between 40% to 80% of children with ASD. The most common problems are difficulty falling asleep and waking frequently. One longitudinal study has shown that sleep deprivation had a drastic impact on social functioning and behaviour.”
I know that my children are happier after a good night’s sleep. Heck, a rough night of sleep often leaves me grouchy and less productive the next day and I am not on the autism spectrum. The sleep deprivation and decreased functioning relationship is logical, with or without autism. But, in my opinion, it is more of an issue in the autism population because of the increased prevalence of sleep disorders as well as the underlying autism symptoms that directly impact functioning and behavior.
So what’s a mom to do? Over the years we’ve tried to address the sleeping issue using several tools including weighted blankets, consistent nighttime routines, essential oils, melatonin and even prescription medication. Some of these solutions worked better than others, and of course what worked great for one kid had no impact on the other.
How do you address sleep challenges in your child with autism?