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Intellect Dev Disabil. 2012 Feb;50(1):41-52. doi: 10.1352/1934-9556-50.1.41.

Sleep problems and early developmental delay: implications for early intervention programs.

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Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Jack and Pearl Resnick Campus, 1300 Morris Park Ave., Mazer Building., Rm. 418, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.


Sleep disorders negatively impact behavior, cognition, and growth--the same areas targeted by early intervention. Conversely, developmental delays and disabilities may themselves precipitate sleep disorders. Young children with developmental delays experience sleep disorders at a higher rate than do typically developing children; the most common types are difficulties initiating or maintaining sleep and sleep disordered breathing. To date, attention has been focused on sleep problems in children with specific conditions (e.g., autism, genetic syndromes, prematurity, and seizure disorder). The authors review evidence of sleep problems' broader impact across the range of children screened for early intervention. Eligibility evaluations for early intervention address the five developmental domains: adaptive, motor, cognitive, communication, and socioemotional. Disordered sleep may be symptomatic of socioemotional and adaptive problems. Assessing sleep problems within the evaluation may help establish eligibility for early intervention services and would maximize developmental potential by ensuring timely identification, referral, and treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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