A recent study conducted at the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at the University La Sapienza in Rome, Italy has led researchers to believe that sleep disorders are more common among kids with Aspergers as opposed to their typically-developing peers. Oliviero Bruni, MD authored the study which compared the sleep habits of eight kids with Aspergers, 10 kids with autism and a control group of 12 typically-developing kids. Moms and dads of kids with Aspergers filled out a sleep questionnaire and the Pediatric Daytime Sleepiness Scale. The kids were also assessed using the Child Behavior Checklist, the industry-standard Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Kids (WISC), and were observed during an overnight sleep study (polysomnogram).
The study determined that not only were kids with Aspergers reluctant to go to sleep they had difficulty falling asleep, difficulty waking up, and a general feeling of sleepiness throughout the day. As a parent of a youngster with Aspergers I can attest to these findings. My son has a hard time transitioning into his sleep routine, a difficult time falling asleep, and often nods off throughout the day. He rarely looks rested but can't seem to increase his quality of sleep.
It is important for all kids, but especially kids with Aspergers and other autism spectrum conditions, to have a consistent bedtime routine. This will allow everyone to wind down and have a relaxing evening which should, ideally, set the mood for a more restful night. It is imperative to avoid any excessively stimulating activity in the later evening hours including screen time (TV, movies, video games, computer time, etc) and any type of excessive physical activity. Some moms and dads find that the use of aromatherapy and relaxing music helps their youngster calm down and prepare themselves for a restful night of sleep.
All kids have sleep issues from time-to-time and will go through phases of disruptive sleep. Kids with Aspergers, however, are more prone to have longer periods of these disruptive cycles. This lack of quality sleep can affect a youngster in their everyday lives including their education and extracurricular activities. If the youngster isn't getting sleep then it is unlikely that the moms and dads are which can through the entire family dynamic off. If you have a youngster with Aspergers it is important to take note of their sleep, including speaking with the youngster themselves, and contact their pediatrician if you feel that they are being negatively affected by their sleep cycle.
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