It can be difficult for children with autism and other special needs to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. Those lost hours of slumber not only take a toll on the children – who may be more irritable and prone to behavior problems – but also on their bleary-eyed parents. If you are struggling to help your child "power down" or relax at night, you are not alone.
Just how far-reaching is the problem? Research has found that 40 to 80 percent of people on the autism spectrum struggle to sleep. These problems include waking early in the morning, waking frequently at night, not being able to fall asleep at night, sleeping for only short periods, daytime sleepiness, and irregular or erratic sleep patterns. Many parents report that their children with autism struggle with bedtime meltdowns, inability to sleep in a bed, frequent night terrors, nighttime wandering or sleepwalking, and even binge eating at night. All of these behaviors add up to lack of sleep for the entire family.