Spotting sleep problems in special-needs children

Spotting sleep problems in special-needs children
Small changes at home can help them get essential shuteye.

(HealthDay)—About 30 percent of children have a sleep disorder, but the rate is even higher in children with special needs, an expert says.

This increased risk in children with special needs is likely related to physical and , as well as side effects from medication, said Dr. Jennifer Accardo, director of the Clinic and Lab at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Md.

Not all children with special needs who have will be diagnosed with a sleep disorder, but early detection of common signs is the key to improving sleep. Parents know their child's best and can spot sleep issues if they know what to look for.

Signs of in school-age children with special needs include: snoring; difficulty falling or staying asleep; sleepwalking, night terrors and other nighttime activities; sleeping too much; and needing parents to be in the room to fall asleep.

"While a good night's sleep is important for all children, it is especially critical for children with special needs," Accardo said in an institute news release. "Parents can make small changes at home to help their child get a better night's sleep and improve their performance in daytime activities, therapies and social interactions."

Accardo offered tips to improve sleep for children with special needs:

  • Make sleep a priority and develop a .
  • Keep schedules consistent every day on both weekdays and weekends.
  • Make the bedroom a restful place and have your child sleep in the same place every night.
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • Put your child to bed when he or she is sleepy, but not yet fully asleep.
  • Address anxiety, which is common in children with special needs.
  • Take note of signs of sleep problems.
"If parents are concerned about their child's sleep patterns and behaviors, they should consult with their pediatrician or a sleep expert," Accardo said. "Sleep evaluations can be extremely beneficial in identifying causes and ultimately improving sleep for the entire family."

More information: The Nemours Foundation has more about children and sleep.

Related Stories

A good night's sleep even more elusive for anxious children

date Apr 22, 2009

Managing routine sleep problems in children can be a testing time for parents as well as being highly stressful for the child. Add a child with anxiety to the mix and a good night’s sleep for everyone can be elusive if ...

Relaxing bedtime routine helps children to sleep soundly

date Aug 19, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Unplug the TV, turn off the computer and force the kids to quit stalling and go to bed. Doing so can help parents and caregivers recover up to 200 hours of sleep a year lost to children's ...

Recommended for you

Are our schools damaging children's eyes?

date Mar 24, 2015

Shockingly, research has shown a dramatic increase in the number of students leaving secondary school with short-sightedness, or myopia, and a new study published in the Journal Perspectives in Public Health, published by SAG ...

Vitamin D vital for gene expression in developing brains

date Mar 24, 2015

Vitamin D deficiency in mothers leading up to and during pregnancy has fundamental consequences for their offspring's brain development, researchers from University of Western Australia and the Telethon Kids ...

Chef-enhanced school meals increase healthy food consumption

date Mar 23, 2015

Schools collaborating with a professionally trained chef to improve the taste of healthy meals significantly increased students' fruit and vegetable consumption, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.