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Parent-Based Sleep Education for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

TitleParent-Based Sleep Education for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsMalow, BA, Adkins, KW, Reynolds, AM, Weiss, SK, Loh, A, Fawkes, DB, Katz, TF, Goldman, SE, Madduri, N, Hundley, RJ
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

Lead Author
Beth Malow

Study Aims and Objectives
To determine whether group or individual parent-targeted sleep education programs were more effective in improving sleeping habits for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Methods- Sample, Procedure, Study Measures, Analysis
80 children with ASD took part in all study activities and were recruited from three Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network Sites. Participants’ parents were randomized into either group or individualized intervention settings, with parents attending several small group or personalized sleep education sessions. The sleep educators followed a well-defined curriculum for both interventions to minimize differences between groups. Actigraphy and sleep diary data were recorded for 21 days of continuous sleep information. Other data collected included cognitive measures, family socioeconomic status, and several sleep and behavior-based questionnaires.

Results- Main Findings
Sleep latency- the amount of time it takes a child to fall asleep once in bed and nighttime activities have been completed- was measured through Actigraphy and diary data for both groups. There was no difference in change in sleep latency between the individual and group intervention arms, so these two groups were combined and the data was used to evaluate before and after treatment results. Parents also self-reported better sleep habits and high satisfaction with the education they received.

Conclusion- Summary Statement
Introducing a parent education program to families was shown to be successful in improving several negative sleep behaviors in children with ASD. The results were consistent across both intervention groups, indicating that either form of sleep education curriculum could successfully help families and children with ASD who are struggling with sleep difficulties.

PubMed ID23754339