Sleep Problems in Children with Severe Intellectual Disabilities: What Help is being Provided?



Sleep problems are common and persistent in children with severe intellectual disabilities. Research conducted mainly in the 1980s suggested that the most widely used form of intervention was pharmacological although studies have demonstrated that behavioural management may be more appropriate. This study aimed to investigate whether the practical implications of such research had been acted upon by describing parents' experiences of interventions they had been offered and also their usefulness. Questionnaires were distributed via schools to parents of children with severe intellectual disabilities in Oxfordshire and Berkshire. Results are based on 209 replies (43% response rate). Only 47% of parents of children with sleep problems (n = 124) had received any form of treatment. Where treatment had been received, medication was still the most widely used form although parents considered behavioural interventions to be more helpful in reducing difficulties. 55% of parents of children with current sleep problems wanted to receive treatment, suggesting a gap in service provision. Possible reasons why 45% did not want to receive treatment are considered.