Sleep, Attention and Behavior

Pediatric research studies suggest that sleep is not only essential to good health, but also to a child’s learning, attention and behavior. Children who consistently sleep fewer than ten hours a night before age three, are 3 times more likely to have hyperactivity and impulsivity problems by age six. Dr. Judith Owens, director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Medical Center, in Washington, D.C. says that the symptoms of sleep-deprivation and ADHD, including impulsivity and distractibility, are very similar.

Ruling out sleep issues is an important part of diagnosing ADHD, according to Dr.Owens. Children who have special needs seem to be even more vulnerable to the effects of too little sleep.  Sleep deprivation can worsen challenges they might have in a variety of areas, including attention, recall, executive function and self-regulation.For school-age kids, research has shown that adding as little as 27 minutes of extra sleep per night makes it easier for them to manage their moods and impulses so they can focus on schoolwork.  Parents should also be aware of red flags that there might be an underlying cause interfering with their child’s sleep: sleep-disordered breathing (SDB).  Signs and symptoms of SDB include: open mouth breathing posture, snoring, audible breathing, grinding teeth during sleep, frequent arousals/fragmented sleep, and night terrors and sleepwalking.  Parents who observe any of these behaviors should consult with their pediatrician, who may refer them to a medical airway specialist.

Find additional information on sleep-disordered breathing in the February 2018 issue of the ASHA Leader at

For 6 more important reasons your child needs sleep, and how to create a better bedtime routine, check out this article in Parents Magazine:








Using Picture Books to Develop Vocabulary

November is National Picture Book Month, and the perfect time to introduce some new stories or well-loved classics to your child.

A 2016 study by Dominic Massaro, psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, suggests that while the amount of spoken language parents use with their children can increase their vocabulary, reading to them is even more effective.

Picture books contain richer language and less common vocabulary than we use in our everyday speech.  Giving a simple definition for unfamiliar words found in a story and pointing to the illustrations will help your child understand what the word means and help to build their vocabulary.  You can make learning new words even more fun by acting out or demonstrating what a word means. Make shared picture book reading part of your daily routine.  If you have older children, they can share books with their younger siblings-or you can all read together. Taking turns, listening and asking questions are all skills that will help your child when he starts learning to read.

The Books4All Blog has great book recommendations and suggestions for how to use them to promote language development.  Check out their website here: