Sleep and Language Development in Toddlers with Down Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorders
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractPrevious research has indicated that sleep is crucial for proper cognitive functioning (Hill et al., 2011). Currently, there is a lack of research that looks at the relationship between sleep and language development in the first years of human development. However, from the existing literature, there is evidence that sleep can help integrate new words into children’s vocabulary and facilitate phonemic expression (Henderson, 2012; Gaskell et al., 2014). However, most studies that have explored the intersection between sleep and language have only done so with typical children. Individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities are more likely to have sleep disturbances (Wiggs & Stores, 1996), which are likely deleterious to their language development, among many other cognitive processes. In this study, we investigated the relationship between sleep and language development in toddlers with Down syndrome (DS) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). We found that toddlers with DS had the most impacted sleep and the greatest language delays. We also found a preliminary correlation between sleep disturbances and language development, with increases in sleep disturbances relating to reduced language development. These findings, when expanded to a larger sample, could have important treatment implications for early language dysfunction. Overall, more research is needed to further elucidate the intricacies of the relationship between sleep and language development in toddlers with developmental disabilities.
Degree ProgramHonors College