April is Autism Awareness month, so we would like to take this opportunity to discuss the link between autism and sleep apnea. Studies have shown that 66% of children with autism spectrum disorders have sleep disturbances on a regular, if not nightly, basis.
While no proven explanation exists to explain why children with autism have trouble sleeping, it is important to rule out serious medical reasons, such as sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep condition that causes disturbances in the breathing patterns while sleeping. What may seem like your average snoring may actually be much more serious. Those that suffer from sleep apnea can have pauses in breathing that last as long as 30 seconds.
In addition to preventing a restful nights sleep, sleep apnea can also lead to long-term health problems, including heart disease. Children with sleep apnea are more prone to behavior and learning challenges, as well.
If your child snores while sleeping, the safest bet is to schedule a consultation with a sleep specialist for evaluation. Atlanta ENT’s team is caring and sensitive to the needs of children with autism, and will work diligently to help your child achieve a better night’s sleep.
Ramie Tritt, M.D., Atlanta ENT