Diane B. Fawkes
Study Aims and Objectives
To provide a practical guide for providers to implement actigraphy research with a population of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Methods- Sample, Procedure, Study Measures, Analysis
Two studies were implemented that involved collecting sleep data through actigraphy from children with ASD. In the first study, a package containing printed instructions and the actigraph was mailed to parents. Between the first and second study, researchers were trained on how to best present and support families with actigraphy use. As part of the intervention, parents were given an hour long, structured training session with the actigraphs. They were then given actigraphs to use for 7 days as a practice session, after which they were given feedback before beginning the data collection phase.
Results- Main Findings
The number of scorable nights for the first 7 days of data collection were compared between the two studies. Scorable nights were higher in study two, and there was no significant difference in number of scorable nights between study sites.
Researchers counted a night as ‘scorable’ if there was either complete actigraph data, or an accurate sleep diary entry by the parent for that night. This significantly increased the number of usable nights in each study because it allowed for more user error without discounting the data.
Conclusion- Summary Statement
This study suggests that active intervention and hands on training does benefit researchers when collecting actigraph data from participants with ASD. When parents and research coordinators are educated in a systematic way about appropriate use of actigraphs, the number of scorable nights improves significantly and the actigraph data collected can have a larger impact.