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.

 

16 people with Autism describe why eye contact can be difficult

Source; The Mighty
Written by: Melissa McGlensey

or some people on the autism spectrum, making eye contact can be a stressful, distracting and sensory-taxing experience. Far too often, though, outsiders view avoiding eye contact as “rude” or “antisocial,” when this isn’t the case at all.

In an effort to better understand how this experience feels for many on the spectrum, The Mighty asked our readers with autism who find eye contact difficult to share a description of what it’s like.

This is what they had to say: 

1. “It’s abstract to me and can be draining. Looking at someone else in the eye means I am taking in everything about them as a person, and I become overloaded. It’s a constant stream of extra sensory or processing information on top of what I’m already trying to sort through in my head. It can disrupt any thought or speaking process I have going on and zaps my energy quickly.” — Laura Spoerl. Click here to read the rest of the story.

 

What sensory processing disorder says about autism

Source: Spectrum News
Written by” Sarah Deweerdt

Jack Craven has superpowers. When his mother, Lori, misplaces an item in the house, she asks the 12-year-old to “look in your head,” through the rich catalog of visual information he seems to assemble without effort. Jack always finds the lost object. His astonishing memory for faces enables him to pick out someone he’s seen only once or twice before from a sea of strangers in a crowded school gymnasium. His sharp hearing makes him an excellent vocal mimic. Request that he sing a Beatles tune and he’ll ask if you want it sung in the style of Lennon or McCartney.

But great powers, as any superhero narrative goes, come with great challenges. He endures, rather than enjoys, the arcade birthday parties popular among tween boys in suburban Atlanta where he lives. They’re just too noisy, too busy, too overstimulating. Jack’s hearing is so sensitive that he can’t always eat at the table with his family, because the sound and sight of them chewing might make him throw up. As an infant, he never slept for more than four hours at a stretch, and had to be held upright the whole time, his stomach pressed against his mother’s chest and her palm pressed atop his head.

Jack has sensory processing disorder (SPD), a condition that includes people who are overly sensitive to what they feel and see and hear, but also those who are undersensitive, and still others who have trouble integrating information from multiple senses at once. SPD is not an official diagnosis. It isn’t included in the newest edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM-5). Still, it is widely used as a catch-all by clinicians, and some studies suggest that it may affect between 5 and 15 percent of school-age children. Children with the clinical label SPD also have a lot in common with children diagnosed with autism, up to 90 percent of whom also have sensory difficulties. Click here to read the rest of the story.

How early intervention can help your child with autism

Source: Verywell Health
Written by: Lis Jo Rudy

Common knowledge says that parents, upon receiving an autism diagnosis for their child, should run—not walk—to the nearest early intervention center.

Early intensive intervention, it is said, is the key to “optimal outcomes” for children with autism. Scientists have long known that the brain grows quickly between the ages of zero and three, which suggests that early intervention would be an ideal way to treat a childhood disorder.

Can Early Intervention Cure Autism?

At least one study suggests that about 14% of children with autism who undergo two intensive years of a program called the Early Start Denver Model will improve radically. In fact, those children would no longer qualify for autism diagnoses if they were being evaluated at a later age. A similar program called LEAP had similar outcomes. There is even some evidence that these programs can change the way the brain functions. Click here to read the rest of the story

There are, however, a few caveats to this finding.

  • First, of course, is the fact that the vast majority of children who undergo intensive early intervention do not improve radically. Yes, their symptoms may improve, but they may still have very significant delays and challenges.
  • Second is the finding that even those children whose autism symptoms improve radically are left with developmental and/or behavioral challenges. In fact, those children are often diagnosable with disorders such as ADHD, learning disabilities, intellectual disability, and so forth.
  • Third, an accurate autism diagnosis is, by definition, a lifelong diagnosis. Symptoms that are difficult to identify in a 6-year-old can become serious challenges in a 20-year-old. Problems with pragmatic speech, anxiety, and repetitive behaviors often emerge as people are exposed to more complex and challenging situations.