• A Look at How Autism Impacts Sleep

    Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) face a broad range of challenges, from difficulty interacting with their peers and making friends to problems with compliance and adhering to a regular sleeping pattern. When any child has difficulty sleeping, the entire family can easily become sleep deprived. If your child is experiencing sleep disturbances, consider talking to his or her autism specialist about ways of addressing the issue.

    Tired boy after a long day

    Identifying Sleep-Related Challenge
    Occasional sleep disturbances are normal for kids. However, children with autism tend to experience higher rates of significant sleep disturbances. Sleep difficulties can contribute to a child’s behavioral challenges during the day. When a child with autism wakes up his or her parents and siblings repeatedly, the entire family can experience impaired functioning.

    Understanding the Potential Causes
    Although the research is far from conclusive, some studies suggest that children with autism are more likely to have abnormal melatonin levels and abnormal circadian rhythms. Autism specialists have also identified some environmental factors and behavioral  issues that can contribute to sleep disturbances . For example, many children enjoy stimulating play activities in their bedrooms. This may make it difficult for a child to calm down and go to sleep in the same room. Children with autism may also experience difficulty with the social cues and routines that indicate an approaching bedtime.

    Improving Bedtime Behavior
    Parents can work with an autism specialist to resolve sleep-related challenges. They might keep a journal to track sleep disturbances and identify possible contributing factors. Steps to resolve these disturbances might include posting a visual schedule to remind children of the components of their bedtime routines.

    At  The Behavior Exchange , we’ve made it our life’s mission to help children with autism reach their full potential. When you enroll your child in our behavior classes, he or she will benefit from our evidence-based practices. Call our center near Dallas at (972) 312-8733 with any questions you may have.

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  • Understanding Asperger’s Syndrome

    Asperger’s syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder on the autism spectrum. Children with Asperger’s may experience a range of challenges, which can be mild or severe. They may experience communication issues, such as difficulty with the interpretation of body language and facial expressions. It’s common for a child with Asperger’s to misinterpret social cues and to become highly focused on one narrow topic of interest.

    You can hear more about what it’s like to live with Asperger’s syndrome by watching this video. You’ll hear a little bit about the history of the disorder, which was first described in 1944, and you’ll learn the truth behind the misconception that children with Asperger’s lack empathy.

    The autism specialists at The Behavior Exchange look forward to meeting your family and discussing how our behavior classes may help your child. Dallas-area parents can call (972) 312-8733 for more information about our therapy programs .

  • Keeping Your Child with Autism Safe At Home

    Parents know all too well the challenges of keeping their little ones safe from harm. For parents of children with autism, the risks may be even greater than usual. Children with autism often appear unaware of dangers and they can quickly slip away from a parent’s watchful eye. Children with autism may also have difficulty with communication, preventing them from calling out for help when needed. You can work with your child’s autism therapist to learn how to make your home environment safer for your child.

    Toddler girl drawing with pencils

    Evaluate Household Dangers
    Making your home safe for a child with autism is similar to baby-proofing it. Make sure that all medications, cleaning products, and other toxins are locked away from your child’s reach. If you have any top-heavy furniture or electronics such as TVs resting on top of furniture, use furniture brackets and safety straps to secure these items. This prevents your child from pulling these items over on top of him or her. Then, walk through each room of your home and look for other potential dangers. Consider where your child might hide if he or she becomes stressed out and if those areas pose a hazard, install a lock. For example, it’s a good idea to lock chest-style freezers.

    Explain Stranger Safety
    With the help of your child’s autism therapist, instruct your child that he or she is never allowed to open the door to visitors. It may be helpful to use a social storybook that illustrates these types of situations.

    Discuss Fire Safety
    Another way of keeping your child with autism safe is to discuss fire safety. Some parents take their children to fire departments to meet the firefighters and look at the equipment. Children with autism may become less stressed when they experience unusual situations in a calm setting.

    The Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapists at The Behavior Exchange can help you learn how to structure your home environment, establish rules, and use positive interventions to improve your child’s safety and well-being. Our autism therapists look forward to meeting your family and discussing how we can help with your unique challenges. You can call our location near Dallas at (972) 312-8733 to speak with a friendly staff member and arrange a consultation .