Deirdre Budd’s Blog

Posts Tagged ‘chronic sleep disorder

Sleep disturbances in children with Autism and Autistic Disorders are often seen as part and parcel of the condition.  For this reason parents do not always seek appropriate help until the problem becomes severe.  Although sleep disturbance is in these children are often chronic they can be successfully treated with behavioural therapy and occasionally with a combination of medication and behavioural therapies. 

Nightwakings in these children are longer and more disruptive, sleep routines may be more problematic because of the sterotypical behaviours and difficulties in adapting to any alterations in these. Increased anxiety in these children may also play a part. Parents may also be more aware of their childs sleep difficulties, experience sleep deficit themselves and find the whole night time a period of upset and distress rather than quiet and restful.

Significant problems in getting to sleep and maintaining sleep have been reported in a range of neurological disorders. The prevelance of sleep disorders in children with such diagnosis as Aspergers syndrome, Angleman Syndrome, Retts and Williams syndromes have been estimated as being as high as 50-70%. Similar problems occur in blind children with difficulties in falling asleep, nightwakings and restless sleep being the most common.

Sleep disturbances in children with developmental delays are frequently effectively  altered by a variety of behavioural strategies. These need to be tailored to the developmental stage of the child and to the resources of the family. Choosing reasonable, attainable and mutually acceptable targets in terms of desirable behaviour at bed time, and in coping with nightwakings, are particularly important when assisting families to alter unwanted behaviours.

If you need help to alter your child’s night behaviour contact


Narcolepsy is a chronic disorder caused by the brain’s inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles normally. It is relatively rare and accompanied by a significant degree of functional impairment. The hallmark of Narcolepsy is excessive daytime sleepiness. Other symptoms include cataplexy sleep paralysis and hallucinations during sleep onset or awakening. It is not usually definitively diagnosed until about 10-15 years after symptoms appear.

Recent research shows that narcolepsy is related to unique gene variants and auto-immunity. It is reported in Nature Genetics that it is hoped that defining the changes in the T cell receptor associated with narcolepsy and catoplexy it may later be possible to develop drugs which will prevent the onset of narcolepsy.

At the moment the symptoms of narcolepsy are often misdiagnosed, particularly in children and adolescents, as psychiatric or behavioural disorders such as ADHD, depression and even psychosis. Most people find that the symptoms worsen over the two or three decades after they symptoms first appear.

Current treatment of Narcolepsy can usually result in control the daytime sleepiness, and the loss of muscle tone (cataplexy). Each treatment plan includes medication, education and behavioural changes. Narcolepsy is a chronic lifetime disorder that will always require management. The goal of treatment is adaptation and improved quality of life.


February 2019
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