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Sleep Disorders

Sleepiness and autism

10/28/2008

Question:

I have a 13 yr old boy with autism. Until recently he was medicated with risperdal to help him sleep at night. I took him off that and have been giving him tylenol pm for about 2 weeks now. It does seem to help, but I am curious on the long term effects. He is not able to communicate wether or not it helps, or if there are changes within his body. Is it ok to take this, or is there something else that he can use that is not such a harsh drug like the resperdal? Thank you

Answer:

Insomnia in children with autism is a very difficult problem. Risperdal has been reported to improve sleep in some children with autism. Other people have reported using Melatonin in the evening. Unfortunately there is no one drug that seems to work reliably well for children with autism. I think that if Tylenol PM or Benadryl is working well for your son, that is fine.

I would counsel you to discuss medication changes and long-term medication use with your son's pediatrician. Evaluation by a pediatric sleep specialist may be of some help if the problems persist.

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Response by:

Mark   Splaingard, MD Mark Splaingard, MD
Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University