Sleep Problems for a child with learning disabilities

Children and young people with additional support needs including those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (also known as ASD) are far more likely to have sleep problems than other children. We can provide advice and support to families on coping with sleep problems.

Learning Disability Nursing provides advice and support to children and young people with learning disabilities, their parents/carer(s) and the healthcare and education professionals they rely on.

Sleep problems can include children or young people not settling to sleep or waking early or often throughout the night. They might be very noisy or distressed, and sometimes cannot be left unattended. Often parents/carer(s) have to sleep in shifts for months or years and sleep deprivation can have a devastating effect on the whole household.

How can we help?

All of our Learning Disability Nurses are trained Sleep Scotland Sleep Counsellors, and run sleep clinics at locations across Devon. Providing advice and support to families to use specially adapted behavioural and cognitive techniques which are known to effectively treat sleep problems. At the clinics, families are introduced to various techniques including behavioural modification, sleep history and keeping a sleep diary. These tools are used during clinics to look at existing sleep problems and to help us support an improvement in sleep patterns.

If you are referred to us to support with a sleep problem, we will send sleep diaries and basic sleep hygiene information to you before your first appointment or you can download the information yourself below.

Guidance and helpful information

If you have a child with learning disabilities and need support with their sleep behaviour please ask a health care professional to request a sleep assessment from Children and Family Health Devon.

Please also check out our ‘useful links’ on this page for help and advice on helping your child while you wait for an appointment. When you are referred to us it would be very helpful if you could complete the documentation you are sent while you are waiting as the information you collect will help us to assess the best way to support you. This may include behaviour and sleep diaries as well as other information.

Toolkits and Strategies

The following toolkits are available to support you to record behaviours, sleep patterns and other information which will be useful in assessing what the support a child or young person requires:

  • Behavioural pack >

    This toolkit includes basic information and advice on behaviour. The pack will allow you to record information which is useful during a clinic assessment to allow the clinician to assess the help needed.

  • Sleep hygiene information and sleep diaries >

    This includes sleep hygiene information sheets to give you basic advice for promoting healthy sleep patterns. We only support families with severe sleep problems but this information is useful for all families and children.  The sheets here allow you to record information on sleep patterns and approaches which will be useful for the clinican when you attend an appointment with us. 

  • Independence pack >

    This pack includes a basic explanation of techniques which may be useful for a family and help to reduce anxiety. 

What happens next?

All requests for service are prioritised according to need and urgency, based on the information provided to us when the request is made. The urgency is defined by the service in discussion with the person who made the request for service and the child or young person’s family.

We aim to see all children and young people within 18 weeks of accepting the request for service. We will try, wherever possible, to start the assessment process prior to the first clinic appointment by asking parents/carer(s) or the child or young person to begin to record behaviours, sleep patterns and feelings where this is appropriate. This information will help inform our assessment.

Self referral

You can now self-refer your child into this service. For more information please view this guide on how to self refer.

For details of what the service supports and what supporting documentation you require for your referral, please view the request criteria page.

What is the process?

Location of Centres

We will arrange to see you at a location convenient to you or near to your home, which may or may not be listed below. You should not visit the locations below unless we have sent you an appointment and requested that you do. If you need help please contact us using the number on this page.

Springfield Court (North) Springfield Court, Fishleigh Road, Roundswell Business Park, Barnstaple EX31 3UD
Capital Court (East) 1a Capital Court, Bittern Road, Sowton Industrial Estate Exeter EX2 7FW
Lescaze Offices (South Devon)  Shinner’s Bridge, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6JE


Children and Family Health Devon
Single Point of Access Team
1a Capital Court
Bittern Road
Sowton Industrial Estate
Exeter EX2 7FW


t: 0330 024 5321