Shifting the clock back and forth in the fall and spring can cause havoc in households with young children. But sleep issues for up to 90% of of families raising children with neurodisabilities go far beyond disruption for a week or so.

Perennial early waking, and trouble getting to, or staying asleep are all signs of behavioural insomnia – the most common sleep issue in children. Kids Brain Health Investigators Penny Corkum and Shelly Weiss lead a research program aimed at evaluating whether an effective online intervention for behavioural insomnia will work as well for children with disabilities, as without, are beginning to recruit participants in a randomized controlled trial of Better Nights, Better Days. The duo is seeking Canadian children between the ages of 4-10 diagnosed with ADHD, FASD, autism, or cerebral palsy.

Despite the prevalence of sleep issues among children with these health conditions, recruitment can be a challenge. A discussion between KBHN’s former Vice-Chair of our Board of Directors, Colin Deacon, who is now a senator, and Drs. Corkum and Weiss led to a collaboration with Amber MacArthur, a well-known tech journalist, and and her husband and Producer, Chris Dick. An influential presence on social media with handle @ambermac, the pair recorded an April 11 Facebook Live interview about FASD.

On October 30, Dr. Weiss, Mabin School Principal Nancy Steinhauer, past Chair and current Board Member Dr. Sheila Laredo, parent of two young adults on the autism spectrum, and Julia Hanigsberg, President and CEO of Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Centre gathered at noon to discuss sleep issues in children, and how it affects behaviour, learning, and a family’s ability to function, with a focus on Better Nights, Better Days, and the importance of research and treatment for commonly co-occurring conditions that affect kids with neurodisabilities.

Learn more about sleep and neurodisabilities and our Better Nights, Better Days sleep research program

Watch Amber Mac’s Facebook Live Sleep Show with KBHN

Visit the Better Nights, Better Days study website

A short List of Evidence-Based Sleep Resources with answers to common caregiver questions

1. Canadian Sleep Society
2. Pediatric Sleep Council
3. National Sleep Foundation
4. “Better Sleep for your Baby and Child,” by Dr. Shelly Weiss, Published by Robert Rose Inc. (2006)