Strategies to Address Sleep Problems of Children and Their Parents

Sleep problems may be best considered a skill deficit, one that is common especially in children and youth with autism and developmental disabilities (63-80%, compared to 35-50% of typically developing young children). Sleep problems (difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting enough sleep) are associated with higher levels of severe problem behavior (meltdowns, aggression, self-injury), stereotypic self-stimulatory behavior, and noncompliance. Sleep problems also interfere with learning. momsleeping2kidsleepingAlthough there is a notion that children eventually grow out of the developmental phase characterized by sleep disturbance, these problems tend to persist and do not simply subside as children grow older. Persistent sleep problems in childhood are associated with childhood and adult obesity, adolescent behavioral and emotional problems, anxiety in adulthood, and sleep problems through adulthood. Children’s sleep problems also negatively affect parents and are associated with marital discord and maternal malaise and depression. The good news is that all children can learn to be great, or at least better, sleepers, and so can their parents.

Click here for evidence-based strategies for promoting good sleep. For additional information, see the publications, tutorial, and implementation assistance pages on this site.

For an Italian translation of these evidence-based strategies relevant to children, click here. For an Italian translation of these evidence-based strategies relevant to adults, click here.

2 thoughts on “Strategies to Address Sleep Problems of Children and Their Parents

  1. Hi Greg!

    I have been following your research on addressing sleep problems and it has been very helpful when working with families to develop sleep plans. I am curious if you have done any work with children who have a sleep dependency of being driven around in a car? I would love any insight you have to fading this dependency out and eliminating it all together. Thank you!

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    • Hello Angela. That one has come up. It is no different than the other dependencies that come up when parents have to get creative in order to survive sleep issues. That said, helping children and families normalize sleep dependencies can sometimes be a challenge. If you would like some consultative support, reach out to Kelsey Ruppel at FTF Behavioral Consulting; kruppel@ftfbc.com

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