You asked for it…and we heard you!!

Annie Tanasugarn, PhDc, BCBA CEO/AUTHOR, The Autism Analyst
"Autism Awareness simply means to acknowledge that Autism exists; Acceptance is to acknowledge its value."

Hello everyone!

Hello everyone! Wow, can you believe we are already near mid-January? Where the heck has this New Year gone already? Well, now that we’ve all had a couple weeks to acclimate to 2017, The Autism Analyst is getting ready to kick-start some AU-SOME new blogs and parent support ideas. Who’s with me?!

We have had some amazing feedback from our families and subscribers asking for blogs and information for parents on data collection, data sheets, circle time, sensory integration needs, fun sensory ideas, safety issues, reinforcer information and well, just about everything under the sun for parents and caregivers living with a child with Autism and other special needs. As our friends know, being an advocate and parent to a child with ASD is not a 9-5 job. This job is 24/7, and 365 days a year!

Let’s kick off the first blog in this series with a little talk about ‘sleep’. Aaaaaah yes, that amazing time when you nestle your little ones cozy and snug as bugs in their beds at night and they drift off to sleep, never to awake until the morning hours…..NOT! As a mom of two kids myself, I know for fact that this is not really the case (but what an awesome daydream it makes for!)
Most parents may not know that there are many common sleeping issues experienced that may go undetected until formal assessment occurs. Sleep disturbance issues associated with ASD often include:

Inadvertently reinforcing bedtime problems
The bedroom environment
Trouble staying asleep
Unrealistic bedtime
Trouble falling asleep
The home environment
Cultural considerations
Inconsistent sleep time
Bed wetting

Now for the numbers:

  • 53% of children with Autism experience sleep disturbances
  • 46% of children with developmental delays (PDD-NOS; other than Autism) experience sleep disturbances
  • As many as 36% of typically-developing children experience sleep disturbances
  • Waking up and crawling out of bed (and often into mom & dads room) is the #1 most-reported sleep issue

With numbers like this, it’s no wonder mom and dad often get only a couple hours of sleep at night!
First things first:

Rule out any medical issues. This is not only critical for myself as a Behavior Analytic Professional as we can’t begin treatment for a child without first ruling out a possible medical concern, but this is critical for the child to make sure that something medically sensitive is not occurring. Once your pediatrician has ruled out a medical issue, then I get to step in and see what could be maintaining these pesky sleeping issues at night.

Sleep schedule. Create and stick to a sleep schedule for your little one. This includes nightly chores such as bathing, brushing teeth, setting out clothes for the next day, and getting your little one to bed at the same time each night (the last one is often the toughest). But seriously mom and dad, by getting your kiddo to bed at a developmentally and age-appropriate time consistently each night, you will begin seeing your little one rubbing their eyes, yawning and dozing closer and closer to this time, and ready for bed! Consistency is key!
There are dozens of sleep disturbance issues that millions of families experience every night. Sleep often becomes that dreaded time of day for parents who struggle in getting their kiddo to bed (and keeping them there). In order to fully understand what is going on when the lights go off, I strongly suggest speaking with a Behavior Analyst, such as myself, who can conduct both observational and formal assessments and create the perfect sleep routine that gets everyone sleeping a little more soundly throughout the night.

You are not alone! If you are experiencing sleep issues with your child and are in the southern California area, please contact me for a free 15-minute phone consultation and options for creating a perfect, restful night’s sleep for both you and your little one.


Jin, C.S., Hanley, G.P., & Beaulieu, L. (2013). An individualized and comprehensive approach to treating sleep

problems. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 4(1), 11-61-180.

Krakowiak, P.,Goodlin-Jones, B., Hertz-Picciotto, I., Croen, L.A., & Hansen, R.L. (2008). Sleep problems in children

with autism spectrum disorders, developmental delays and typical development: A population-based

study. Journal of Sleep Research, 17(2), 197-206.


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