New study by Forward Steps, Barnardo’s Northern Ireland service, shows the importance of sleep interventions in children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Forward Steps has helped children with ASD since 1999 by working alongside other services and offering support. Through this, they found that a high proportion of children they were working with displayed sleep problems and decided to fund a pilot to provide practical sleep help.
Sleep Hygiene was the main method used as a starting point and, with training and support from Sleep Scotland, Barnardo’s worked with eight families experiencing sleep deprivation in Belfast Between March 2015 and September 2016.
Quite quickly they began to see positive outcomes from the study. Data showed that as little as three weeks into the study, several of the children had ’reduced challenging behaviour’, ‘reduced co-sleeping’ and ‘fell asleep at a more appropriate time’.
The research has demonstrated the importance of specifically targeted sleep interventions for children with ASD, an area which Barnardo’s describe as ‘poorly understood’ at present. The findings, according to Barnardo’s, have brought forward recommendations for the provision of more sleep help and resources, more detailed assessments, awareness raising in healthcare and schools and a more accessible referral and intervention process for families.
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