Autism Spectrum Disorders is characterized as a neurodevelopmental disorder that are a group of conditions with onset in the developmental period that produces impairments in the area of social communication, reciprocal social action as well as repetitive and stereotyped behaviors and interest.
It is a spectrum meaning it varies from person to person with varying co-disorders including sleep.
Studies show that children with sleep disorders experience insomnia and sleep issues at a higher rate than children without autism.
Interviewed parents reported showed that 53% of children with ASD have difficulty sleeping including difficulty falling asleep(23),frequent awakening(19) and early morning wakening (11). Sleep disturbance included bedtime resistance, insomnia, breathing issues while sleeping, morning arising issues and daytime sleepiness. There is also evidence that children with autism spectrum disorder are reported to experience high levels of Parasomnias, defined as a group of sleep disorders involving unwanted events displayed by complexed behaviors during sleep. This includes:
- Bed Wetting
- Sleep Hallucination
- Night Terrors
- Sleep Walking
Sleep disturbance fin autism falls into one of the following categories:
- difficulty falling asleep
- night walking
- early walking
- night terrors
The Impact of Sleep
Lack of sleep for an autistic child and adult presents additional challenges. Studies show the lack of sleep can increase issues with repetitive behaviors, fatigued parents, increase anxiety and depression and increase cognitive issues. this decreases the quality of life for the person during daytime. In school, the child may have difficulty staying awake, regulating emotions and an increase in hyperactivity, aggression and poor appetite. As children become adults, it is possible for the issue of sleeping to increase. there is evidence that autistic adults continue to have issues with insomnia and sleepwalking.
- Psychiatric comorbidities including anxiety, behavior problems, and hyperactivity
- Genetic Mutations including serotonin and melatonin which has been described as an important factor in the sleep-wake cycle. Studies have found abnormal melatonin in people with ASD.
Tips for Improving Sleep
- Create a regular bedtime routine including using a visual cue which will help the child or adult prepare for bed.
- Make sure the bedroom is comfortable including using a dim light in the bedroom and blackout blinds. Also ensure the temperature in the room is comfortable
- Quiet activities. Plan for quiet play before bed which allows the person to relax. This can include reading, puzzles, or a craft activity.
Signs and symptoms of Down syndrome is fairly easy to detect especially since there are specific physical characteristics of the disorder. But what if there is also a diagnosis of autism?
Studies show that 5 to 39% of children with Down syndrome are also on the autism spectrum. There are overlaps in some of the symptoms which delays the signs and symptoms of autism. This observation is slowly growing and informing parents and educators to observe for specific signs and symptoms.
It is possible that educators and therapist may be the first to notice that children with Down syndrome also display characteristics that are similar to autism.
Why is it important?
According to authors Margaret Froehlke and Robin Zaborek from the book, When Down Syndrome and Autism Intersect, The education approach in both Down syndrome and autism will be different than for children with a single diagnosis of Down syndrome including accommodations and writing the IEP. Teaching strategies will also differ. Teaching a student with Down syndrome who require tactile demonstrations, simple directions, and immediate feedback will now require concrete language, social stories, the use of few choices and the use of concrete language.
The importance of getting the diagnosis
Most often children with Down syndrome are treated for the characteristics of having Down syndrome which overlooks giving children the appropriate treatment for Autism such as social skills and sensory issues. A child or young adult with both diagnosis will likely experience aggressive behaviors, meltdowns, and show signs of regression during their early development. The following are signs and symptoms to look for in your child, or student:
- Hand flapping
- Picky eater
- Fascination with lights
- Staring at ceiling fans
- History of regression
- Head banging
- Strange vocalization
- Seizure Disorder
Signs of overlap include:
As the student gets older, there may be ongoing issues with sensory disorders and transitions leading to meltdowns
Autism and Meltdown Resources
Printable Down Syndrome Fact Sheet
When Down Syndrome and Autism Intersect: A Guide to DS-ASD for
Parents and Professionals
By Margaret Froehlke, R. N. & Robin Zaborek, Woodbine House, 218 pp.
Published By: Spectrum of Wellness
Written By: Anna Laurab
Do you have a child with both food allergies and autism? If so, it can be doubly challenging and overwhelming at times. However, it is possible to manage both without going nuts. Here are some tips to help you accomplish this:
1. Take inventory of what kind of help and resources you need. I recommend hiring a health coach, or nutritionist to help you with the nutrition and meal planning part. You can of course hire me as a health coach. Check out what I offer on my coaching page. Otherwise I can provide you with referrals for a nutritionist or pretty much anyone or anything you might need. Click here to read the rest of the story.
Source: Big Rentz
Written by: Lior Zitzman
When you have a child or family member on the autism spectrum, creating a safe and functional home environment is an important task. Autism can have a huge impact on an individual’s development, lifestyle, and social connections. People on the spectrum can be particularly sensitive to lights, sounds, and other stimuli. Many crave order and routines to make sense of the world. Safety can be a concern for those who wander, are drawn to water, or are prone to head banging or self injury.
According to the Autism Society, about 1 percent of the world’s population has autism spectrum disorder, and the condition affects about 1 in every 59 children born in the United States. This means that in America, 3.5 million people are on the autism spectrum. This number is growing as diagnostic criteria are becoming better understood.
Children and adults with autism often struggle with sensory integration, the neurobiological process of interpreting and managing the sensory input they receive. It can be hard for them to make sense of sights, sounds, smells, and other sensory information.There are three main sensory systems that may be affected when an individual has autism. Understanding these three sensory systems is key to understanding individuals with autism and how they interact with their home environments: Click here to read the rest of the story
Maybe it’s a colleague’s booming voice, a garish, ill-chosen mural or the persistent pong of garlic from the canteen, but every workplace has its irritating quirks.
While most people can ignore such annoyances, for a significant minority it is impossible and keeping them out of work.
Background noise is commonly a problem for people with dyslexia, ADHD and autism – so-called neurodivergent conditions – while bright lighting can also be a source of stress that can be particularly acute for some people. Click here to read the rest of the story.