A study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders shows that sleep tips provided to parents whose children have autism helped improve the sleeping habits of those children.
Dr. Beth Malow, a professor of neurology and pediatrics and the author of the study said in a news release that “one hour of one-on-one sleep education or four hours of group sleep education delivered to parents, combined with two brief follow-up phone calls, improved sleep as well as anxiety, attention, repetitive behavior and quality of life in children with [autism spectrum disorders] who had difficulty falling asleep.”
This study, compared with an earlier study that only gave parents pamphlets on the topic, showed a much higher rate of success. For the study, researchers trained parents of 80 children, ages 2-10, diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Parents were provided with information on habits that promote sleep, including limiting the use of caffeine, video games and computers in the evening, and increasing exercise. For the children, parents helped create visual schedules to aid in establishing a daily bedtime routine. Parents were also given tips on how to get their children to go back to sleep if their sleep was interrupted.
This study comes at a great time, especially since another study published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood shows that children diagnosed with autism sleep less than their counterparts who don’t have autism. Equipping parents with such skills, and spreading awareness on how to deal with certain habits of those diagnosed with autism, can only bring about a higher quality of life for the children and their families.