Sleep is one of the most important regulating milestones for children. Most infants achieve some predictability in their sleep habits towards the end of the first year of their life. In second year, most of them are able to sleep in their room. This developmental milestone is often challenged in children with Autism and other developmental delays. Autistic children lack the self regulation in many areas of their functioning. They may need more predictable routine in the evening to allow their biological clock to regulate.
It is not uncommon for many Autistic children to have trouble falling asleep, frequent awakening at night, increased bedtime anxiety and need for obsessive rituals. Some of them may have maladaptive behavior patterns of head banging , hair pulling or other self stimulating behaviors. It is important for parents to monitor any possible signs of night terrors, nightmares, sleep walking or sleep talking.
Some Autistic children may also have other neurological disorders such as seizures. Other medical problems of endocrine and metabolic imbalances can also affect sleep regulation greatly. Only a detail history and examination can help your Physician understand the nature of these issues.
It is important to know that all other sleep related problems such as bed wetting and resistance to sleep can also affect Autistic children as well. A simple behavioral plan can be helpful in most of these sleep related problems.