Autism and Sleep: The Sleep Scotland Model - a cognitive behavioural intervention approach to sleep problems

Jane Ansell

Cite this article as: CEPiP 2014;1:64-68

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Abstract

Severe sleep disorders are more common in children with additional support needs, with the sleep problem often continuing for years and having damaging consequences for the mental and physical health of the entire family. Sleep Scotland is a charity which trains sleep counsellors to support these families using a cognitive behavioural intervention model, addressing non-sleeping as a form of learned behaviour which can also be unlearned. The charity provides support to families who have children and young people with additional support needs and sleep problems, and has more recently extended its service to teenagers in mainstream schools. This article describes the origins of Sleep Scotland, considers why sleep is such a major difficulty for people with autism spectrum disorder, and presents the intervention model used by our counsellors. This model is illustrated using a case study.

Keywords: sleep problems, additional support needs, autism spectrum disorder, cognitive behavioural strategies