Current Treatment Options in Neurology

, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 350-359

Sleep in children with autism spectrum disorders

  • Kyle P. JohnsonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Oregon Health & Science University Email author 
  • , Beth A. Malow

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Opinion statement

Children with autism spectrum disorders frequently have significant sleep problems, most commonly insomnia. Fortunately, a variety of treatments are available, including behavioral interventions and pharmacotherapy. When establishing a treatment plan, it is imperative to understand the underlying etiology of the sleep problem, which in many cases is multifactorial. Some sleep problems, such as suspected obstructive sleep apnea, should be referred to a sleep specialist. Identifying and treating sleep disorders may not only result in improved sleep but also may favorably affect daytime behavior and family functioning. In general, when treating insomnia, behavioral interventions should be instituted initially, followed by pharmacotherapy if needed.