May is for Mothers…and Better Sleep

This month sounds like a win-win!

Among other celebrations that are recognized in May are Mother’s Day and Better Sleep Month, and this month’s newsletter shines a light on both. In particular, we dive into the topic of sleep and autism, which are explicably linked, and suggest heartfelt ways to celebrate the maternal figures in your life that don’t require much (or any) wrapping paper. Read on for our take on these topics!

Here at CTC, we see moms, grandmas, and other maternal figures enter our doors each and every day. To see them is to also see the hard work, dedication and care that keeps them coming each week or even each day, for the benefit of their child and their development. To them—to YOU—we wish you all the love and selflessness you give to be reflected back to you this Mother’s Day.


Solving Sleep Problems in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Guide for Frazzled Families

This guide, based on a multi-year study that focused on sleep in autistic children, focuses on parent training for better sleep outcomes. Authors help parents identify potential causes of sleep disturbances in their home and provide tips to alleviate the issues.

Product: Sound machine (pictured: Hatch Rest)

Consider purchasing a sound machine with both soothing sounds and an option for dim lighting that may help your little one drift into a more restful night’s sleep. There is even some research suggesting that white noise, in particular, can help counteract symptoms of ADHD.

The Link Between Autism and Poor Sleep

Focusing on healthy sleep routines can help improve attention, behavior and more

Current research indicates something that most parents of children with autism already know and experience daily: sleep challenges and autism are strongly linked. One of the largest studies to examine this link estimated that 80% of children aged 2 to 5 years have disrupted sleep. 1

A 2009 study found that children with autism who experience disruptive sleep have increased hyperactivity and distractibility as compared to those who sleep well 2, which may contribute to the increased prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder seen in autism. Autistic children who experience poor sleep also tend to exhibit more severe repetitive behaviors.

What is the reason behind these challenges? Research suggests a number of reasons, indicating that not one lone factor is responsible for nocturnal distress. Sensory sensitivities often seem to be responsible for difficulties falling and staying asleep, such as when sights, sounds and sensations prevent restorative sleep from occurring.

While there are no current methods to completely prevent or cure sleeping difficulties that autistic individuals experience, the following tips can help families to become more mindful of environmental and social adjustments that can be made before it’s time to turn the lights out:

Make devices off-limits 1-2 hours before bed

There is ample research regarding autism and sleep disturbances, and there appears to be even more studies outlining the detriments that screentime has on our sleep. It seems logical then, to assume that the use of devices such as tablets and cell phones would have an even more significant impact on those with autism, who are already susceptible to easing their minds and bodies into sleep each night.

There is no doubt that this suggestion would be problematic for many readers, as use of screens has become routine for many children and gives the allusion of being soothing. Yet there is likely to be little positive progress in sleep if screentime is occurring in the hours before bed.

Create a consistent bedtime with solid routines

Routines help create order, and help children learn what to expect throughout the day. While unexpected events undeniably occur, a solid routine can create an underlying structure that helps children feel more safe and secure. And this sense of security can significantly help autistic children who may have difficulties falling asleep due to feelings of stress and anxiety. Create a visual schedule (or ask your child’s therapist for their help in doing this) to further improve your child’s comprehension and execution of the routine’s steps.

Read together

Reading together helps make the previous two suggestions more seamless. When devices are off-limits before bed and you’re putting a routine in place, reading books together is a wonderful addition to a nighttime schedule. It is a socially intimate and cognitive enhancing activity that can also be quite calming, especially when it takes place in a calm, dim environment that sets the stage for (hopefully) a night of restful sleep. Which segways into the final suggestion…

Make the bedroom environment a soothing place

Anyone who sleeps in our modern environment—which in this case, is everyone—can benefit from this seemingly simple tip, yet many of us continue to use our bedrooms as one big laundry basket or as a place to catch up on our favorite Netflix series. Make bedrooms dim, organized and quiet, and more peaceful sleep is more likely to follow.

1 Reynolds, A.M. et al. Pediatrics. Epub ahead of print (2019) PubMed

2 Goldman, S.E. et al. Dev. Neuropsychol. 34, 560-573 (2009) PubMed


Hey Mama! Hey Mama!

Check out the new and upcoming additions to CTC’s family!

Everleigh Joy

daughter of OT Ashley Kuipers

Born March 6, 2023, Everleigh Joy arrived a little early but she was ready to take on the world! Ashley, her strong and dedicated mama, has already demonstrated what it takes to be everything you can imagine an incredible mom to be. Everleigh arrived home on May 3 after her extended stay in the NICU, and in these upcoming months she will embark on her therapy journey to further improve her strength and physical development. Congratulations to Ashley and Andy on your sweet bundle of JOY!

Nora Rose

daughter of Angela Berens

Nora Rose hasn’t yet arrived, but is well on her way to meet her parents, Angela and her husband Mike! Perhaps she’ll make her debut right on Mother’s Day, to remind her amazing mom what a milestone day it is? Angela is currently enjoying her nesting stage and is eagerly awaiting to hold Nora in her arms. We can’t wait to meet her!

A Meaningful Mother’s Day

Think outside flowers this year to show your love

Mother’s Day is around the corner, and for those who may be racking their brains for how to make the day feel extra special for the beloved maternal figures in their lives, below are some ideas to show your love and appreciation for all they do year-round:

Cook her favorite meal

There are few moms out there who wouldn’t feel pampered when receiving a special meal prepared for them, whether it be breakfast in bed or a multi-course dinner inspired by her favorite foods.

Get a personalized gift

Personalized gifts are always thoughtful for moms, and can include so many options. Consider a handcrafted scrapbook, her birth flower pressed in a frame, or a necklace with the birthstones of all your her children.

Plan a special outing

Instead of opting for material gifts, consider gifting an experience just for her or an outing for the two of you. For an adventurous and active mom: How about rock wall climbing? For the art lover: Consider a museum exhibit and a stop at the cafe afterwards for a chat over coffee. The added bonus of these gifts are the memories that will accompany them for years to come.

Write her a letter

Even if you’re not the sappy type, a handwritten letter describing what you appreciate about your mom may mean the world to her…even if she’s not sappy either and won’t admit it! Oftentimes, the simple things are the most cherished.

Content of this newsletter was written by:
Megan A. Miller, M.S., CCC-SLP

Please contact Megan with any questions or comments at: