Autistic Spectrum Disorders and Sleep (by Natalie Roth, Ph.D.)
(This is a brief excerpt from an extensive, 4 page article on our blog).
I remember being at dinner with some friends a few years ago. We were reminiscing about the early infancies of our children and how we celebrated the moment when our youngsters began sleeping through the night (or somewhere close). We joined in the discussion with the enthusiasm typical of mothers speaking to other mothers who’ve “been there”, but whose travail was somewhere in the past. That is, most of us did. One of my dear friends reacted to the conversation by putting her hands over her ears and joking that she “didn’t want to hear it”. Her two children had Autistic Spectrum Disorders and, into early elementary school, were not predictably sleeping through the night. While her reaction was impressively good-natured, the long-term struggle with something as basic as sleep had real-life, everyday ramifications for their family, and underneath her lightheartedness, it wasn’t a casual matter.
Practitioners and researchers who work with Autistic Spectrum Disorder have increasingly taken notice of the wide-spread and serious matter of sleep disruption in ASD children, teens, and adults. Sleep problems are very common in this population, with studies indicating difficulties in this area occurring for between 50 and 83% of ASD children, often extending into adolescence.