Autism and Sleep Disorders

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
  • Nightmares
  • Night Terrors
  • Sleep Walking

Sleep disturbance fin autism falls into one of the following categories:

  1. difficulty falling asleep
  2. night walking
  3. early walking
  4. 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.

Causes

  • 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

  1. Create a regular bedtime routine including using a visual cue which will help the child or adult prepare for bed.
  2. 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
  3. Quiet activities. Plan for quiet play before bed which allows the person to relax. This can include reading, puzzles, or a craft activity.

Reference

Updated 4/7/21

 

 

April 2 is World Autism Day

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts social, speech, behavioral and motor skills. It is a spectrum disorder meaning it varies from person to person. No two people have the same symptoms. It is estimated that 1% of the population is diagnosed with autism.

The United Nations proclaims April 2 as World Autism Day in an effort to recognize and promote awareness by bringing worldwide attention to issues facing people with autism.

Worldwide 1 in 160 children is autistic

The prevalence of autism in Africa is unknown

1 percent of the world population is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder

Prevalence in the United States is estimated at 1 in 68 births

1 in 42 boys are diagnosed with autism

1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism

100 individuals are diagnosed everyday

More than 3.3 million Americans live with autism spectrum disorder

Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability

Autism services cost the United States citizens 236-262 billion annually

Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on an average

Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism

Autism generally appears before the age of 3

40% of children with autism do not speak

25-30% of children with autism have some words at 12 to 18 months, and then lose them.

Studies in Asia, Europe, and North American have identified individuals with ASD  with an average prevalence of between 1% and 2%.

About 1 in 6 children diagnosed with autism also have a developmental disability.

Parents who have a child with ASD have a 2%-18% chance of having a second child diagnosed with autism

Almost half (44%) of children diagnosed with ASD has average to above average intellectual ability.

ASD commonly co-occurs with other developmental, psychiatric, neurological, chromosomal and genetic diagnoses.

Almost half (44%) of children with autism have average to above average intellectual ability.

Autism is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

The UK estimate is 1 in 100 are diagnosed with autism

30-50% of individuals with autism also have seizures.

Autism Spectrum Disorders refers to a group of complex neurodevelopment disorders which includes repetitive patterns of behavior and difficulties with social communication, interaction, sensory processing and motor issues.

.In 1943, Leo Kanner dissociated autism from schizophrenia.

Autism is more common than childhood cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined.

Accidental drowning accounted for 91% total U.S. deaths reported in children with autism due to wandering.

Stimming

  • It is also prevalent among people on the autism spectrum.
  • In fact in many cases, it is part of the diagnosis due to the repetition of stimming.
  • Stimming is often used as a means to self-regulate, self-calm and for self-expression.
  • The movements are repetitive and are used to self-stimulate the 7 senses.
  • It is often described as a repetitive motor behavior that can disrupt academic and social and other activities.
  • One of the theories behind stimming is that beta-endorphrins are released in the brain causing an euphoric feeling which is generally a response to pain.
  • Stimming behavior. based for self-soothing and to help a child or an adult regain emotional balance.
  • Sensory Overload. Too much sensory information can lead to stress, anxiety and eventually a meltdown.

Wandering Statistics

    • Nearly half of children with autism engage in wandering behavior
    • Increased risks are associated with autism severity
    • More than one third of children with autism who wander/elope are never or rarely able to communicate their name, address, or phone number
    • Half of families report they have never received advice or guidance about elopement from a professional
    • Accidental drowning accounts for 71% of lethal outcomes, followed by traffic injuries at 18%
    • Other dangers include dehydration; heat stroke; hypothermia; falls; physical restraint; encounters with strangers
    • Accidental drowning accounted for 91% total U.S. deaths reported in children with autism due to wandering.

 

2021 Special Needs Conferences and Seminars for Professionals

What a difference a year makes! While most conferences and seminars were held last year in person, COVID-19 has changed the learning process for professionals seeking to improve their professional development. Almost all of the events listed below are being held via digital or virtual including international meetings and conferences.

Below are conferences that vary from practical information to research. Click on the information which is highlighted and it will take to you directly to the website.

February

Autism Awareness Centre, Inc.

The Brain and Autism: Linking Neurology and Interventions to Address Academic and Behavior Challenges
Date: February 11, 2021- 10 am – 11 am
Location: Virtual

International Conference on Special Education and Individual Needs
Date: February 15-16, 2021
Locational: Virtual/Digital

Special Needs Planning Symposium
Date: February 18-20,2021
Location: Virtual

Learning Disabilities Association of America
LDA 58th Annual International Conference
Date: February 18-21, 2021
Locational: Virtual

National Autistic Society
Understanding Stress and Anxiety in Autism
Date: February 23, 2021
Location: Virtual

Future Horizons
Webinar with Dr. Temple Gradin
Date: February 24, 2021
Location: Virtual

20th Annual Alabama Autism Conference
Date: February 26, 2021
Location: Virtual

Special Education Conference
Date: February 25-26, 2021
Location: Virtual

Association for Behavior Analysis International
15th Annual Autism Conference
Synergy of Science and Practice Worldwide
Date: February 28-March 2, 2021
Location: Virtual

March

International Conference on Special Needs, Education, Models, Standards and Practices
Date: March 4-5, 2021
Location: Virtual

Neurodiversity Conference (City University of New York)
Date: March 4-5, 2021
Location: Virtual

3rd European Autism Congress
Date: March 17-18, 2021
Location: Webinar

Council for Exceptional Children
Date: March 8-13, 2021
Location: Virtual Event

April

Autism Societies of Greater Wisconsin and Minnesota Autism Conference
Date: April 21-24, 2021
Location: Virtual

2021 Special Education- Home Edition
California Teachers Association
Date: April 30- May 2, 2021
Location: Virtual

May

8th World Congress on ADHD

From Child to Adult Disorder
May 6-9, 2021
Location: Virtual

International Conference on Special Educational Needs, Teaching and Different Approaches
Date: May 24-25, 2021
Locational: Virtual

June

Milestones National Autism Conference
Date: June 16-17, 2021
Location: Virtual

Special Education Law Symposium
Date: June 20-25, 2021
Location: Virtual

American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD)
Date: June 21-24, 2021
Location: Virtual

International Conference on Autism in Pediatrics
Date: June 24-25, 2021
Location: Virtual

July

National Down Syndrome Congress
Annual Convention
Date: July 8-11, 2021
Location: Phoenix, AZ

International Conference on Special Education
Date: July 29-30, 2021
Location: Virtual

August

National Autism Conference
Date August 2-5, 2021
Location: Virtual

International Conference on Special Education and Technology
Date: August 26-27, 2021
Location: Virtual

September

International Conference on Autism, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Date: September 20-21, 2021
Location: Virtual

October

Midwest Symposium for Leadership in Behavior Disorders
Autism Conference
Date: October 7-8, 2021
Location: Virtual

Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children with Down Syndrome

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
  • Echolalia
  • Fascination with lights
  • Staring at ceiling fans
  • History of regression
  • Head banging
  • Strange vocalization
  • Anxiety
  • Seizure Disorder

Signs of overlap include:

As the student gets older, there may be ongoing issues with sensory disorders and transitions leading to meltdowns

Additional Resources:

Autism and Meltdown Resources

Printable Down Syndrome Fact Sheet

 

Reference

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.

Updated 1/12/2021

Autistic children may have to mute own perspective to grasp others’

Published by: Spectrum News
Written by: Barhar Gholipour

To understand another person’s point of view, children with autism need to actively suppress their own, a new study suggests1.

People with autism struggle with theory of mind — the ability to guess others’ thoughts and feelings. This may contribute to their social difficulties. The new work hints at the brain processes that underlie their difficulty.

The researchers used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to monitor brain activity in autistic and typical children, aged 8 to 12 years, as they performed a version of a classic theory-of-mind test. This test involves inferring someone else’s knowledge about the location of an object.

Typical children generally pass this test by the time they are 5. Most children with autism don’t pass until their teens, but those with high intelligence and strong language skills may figure it out sooner.

The autistic children in the new study perform the task as well as their typical peers do, but their brain activity differs: Unlike typical children, those with autism heavily recruit an area involved in inhibiting brain activity.  Click here to read the rest of the story