Autistic Children and Sleep: One Huge Mistake Parents and Grandparents Make
A new study highlights how parents and grandparents can contribute to sleep disturbances for autistic children.
The biggest mistake a parent or grandparent can make is through giving in to a child's request for a television and video games in his bedroom, particularly if he has been diagnosed with autism. This is not to say that video games are unhealthy for autistic children, on the contrary, but the effect it can have on a child's sleep patterns can be quite terrible, worsening some of the characteristics that are known to be difficult to deal with.
Autism in itself can have some funky conditions attached to it, such as synethaesia or the mixing of the senses. Furthermore, the symptoms that make certain things quite difficult might also make the child the smartest in his or her class.
One in 88 children have been diagnosed with ASD in the U.S. according to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention. ASDs are almost 5 times more common among boys (1 in 54) than among girls (1 in 252). As such, research focusing on boys and their video games seems rather important.
A study published in the November 2013 issue of Pediatrics looked at video games in the bedroom and their affect on sleep patters in children diagnosed with Autism or ADHD, compared with typical development. Questionnaires given to parents of boys aged 8-17 with these conditions were handed out, comparing average nightly sleep hours of the typical versus autistic and ADHD diagnosed with hours spend playing on the consoles.
It was discovered that video game access in the bedroom caused the most amount of sleep disturbance, more than any other form of media. Autistic and ADHD children were affected most, more than the regular population studied. In conclusion, those with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) were found to be at higher risk for getting to little sleep and the night owls are known to develop both learning and emotional problems in the long run.
This does not mean one should disregard video games overall. On the contrary, there are many reasons why children and adults alike should be playing a little bit at a time.