Sleep Disorders in Children With ASD: A Primer

To the collective mind of the Hughes Brothers (and our sister Cindy), one of the great inequities that young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder must struggle mightily with daily life, its pressures and stresses and, yes, interactions with fellow human beings – the waking hours made more difficult by the lack of sleep that two of every three children with ASD endure. Their nightly woes worsen, in the worst possible way, the distress, the anxiety, the dysfunction that so sadly characterizes their days and ways. Depression can often follow as life looms out ahead inhospitable at best, threatening at worst.

Insomnia — difficulty falling and/or remaining asleep on a nightly or semi-nightly basis for a period of more than one month – stands alone as the most commonly reported sleep disorder among children (adults too) with ASD. In fact, insomnia can cripple up to ninety-percent of older people, wrecking their mornings with angst and exhaustion.

There’s more.

Children with ASD must often contend with nightmares, night terrors, and bedwetting — a set of horrors most widely found among children diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. And then. And then these children are frequently unable to describe the fears and the fright of the night before, a complication for certain in the treatment of these symptoms.

There’s more still.

Youngsters with ASD will wake in the middle of the night, only to engage in activities associated with waking hours: these children might play with a favorite toy or read out loud a favorite book.

Please read more on our Hughes Reviews site, as we explore – with you – potential responses to these sleep disorders capable of disrupting an entire family’s life.