Sleep problems in autism spectrum disorders: prevalence, nature, & possible biopsychosocial aetiologies.

Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre, School of Psychological Science, La trobe University, Bundoora, VIC 3086, Australia.
Sleep Medicine Reviews (Impact Factor: 9.14). 05/2009; 13(6):403-11. DOI: 10.1016/j.smrv.2009.02.003
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT As considerably more people are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), interest in the associated behaviours, including sleep problems has increased. This has resulted in a subsequent increase in the research related to the sleep problems occurring in people with an ASD. This article summarizes and evaluates the current literature related to a) the higher prevalence of a sleep problem compared to typically developing children, b) the specific types of sleep problems for people with an ASD, and c) the possible aetiology of sleep problems in the ASDs within a biopsychosocial framework. It is concluded that recent studies confirm that the majority of this population are likely to experience sleep difficulties, with settling issues in children with an ASD the most commonly reported. However, exploration of the types of sleep difficulties and associated aetiological factors in the ASDs is still in its infancy.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We employed a clinical sample of young children with ASD, with and without intellectual disability, to determine the rate and type of psychiatric disorders and possible association with risk factors. We assessed 101 children (57 males, 44 females) aged 4.5-9.8 years. 90.5 % of the sample met the criteria. Most common diagnoses were: generalized anxiety disorder (66.5 %), specific phobias (52.7 %) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (59.1 %). Boys were more likely to have oppositional defiant disorder (OR 3.9). Higher IQ was associated with anxiety disorders (OR 2.9) and older age with agoraphobia (OR 5.8). Night terrors was associated with parental psychological distress (OR 14.2). Most young ASD children met the criteria for additional psychopathology.
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Although there is evidence that significant sleep problems are common in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and that poor sleep exacerbates problematic daytime behavior, such relationships have received very little attention in both research and clinical practice. Treatment guidelines to help manage challenging behaviors in ASD fail to mention sleep at all, or they present a very limited account. Moreover, limited attention is given to children with low-functioning autism, those individuals who often experience the most severe sleep disruption and behavioral problems. This paper describes the nature of sleep difficulties in ASD and highlights the complexities of sleep disruption in individuals with low-functioning autism. It is proposed that profiling ASD children based on the nature of their sleep disruption might help to understand symptom and behavioral profiles (or vice versa) and therefore lead to better-targeted interventions. This paper concludes with a discussion of the limitations of current knowledge and proposes areas that are important for future research. Treating disordered sleep in ASD has great potential to improve daytime behavior and family functioning in this vulnerable population.
    Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders 12/2014; 6(1):44. DOI:10.1186/1866-1955-6-44 · 3.71 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Little is understood about the sleep quality of children with autism and other developmental disabilities. Conventional sensors and instrumentation for objective sleep quality assessment, such as those used in polysomnography, are highly obtrusive and not well-suited to this patient population. This paper presents a set of sensors and instrumentation for unobtrusive measurement of physiological and behavioral parameters indicative of sleep quality. Specifically, load cells, an electromechanical film, and thermocouples are used to measure respiratory rate, pulse rate, and physical activity of a subject lying on a bed. The sensor suite is being developed to monitor sleep quality of children at Heartspring, a residential and educational facility in Wichita, KS that serves children with severe developmental disabilities. These technologies have the potential to provide objective sleep quality assessment for children in their home environment.