April is National Autism Acceptance Month.
For those who are unaware, many children with autism tend to have sleep issues, which can impact their health, as well as their family’s.
But, new research has found a set of interventions that could prove helpful, even virtually.
“We were able to show that it was feasible to do via telehealth, that families were able to log on and then take the intervention back and apply it,” explained Dr. Cynthia Johnson, psychologist for Cleveland Clinic Children’s.
Johnson took part in the sleep research for children with autism.
She said more than 70 families participated in the trial, and the results showed that using a behavioral approach, which included preventive and environmental modification, was beneficial.
The interventions were customized to the individual family’s needs.
In addition, researchers discovered that the education gave parents more of a sense of competency in handling sleep-related issues with their child.
Johnson said it’s not always as simple as telling a child to go to sleep, but what they can do is introduce changes to help promote sleep.
“For a night wakening for example, if a child wakes up at night, we can’t say don’t wake up at night,” she noted. “But what we can do is teach a child instead that if they wake up at night, don’t get out of your bed, maybe call out to a parent or ring a bell to signal that they need help falling back asleep.”
She said there’s no one main cause for why children with autism tend to have sleep issues. That continues to be researched.