Course and Predictors of Sleep and Co-occurring Problems in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Abstract

The chronicity of sleep disturbance and its relation to co-occurring symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are not well understood. The current study examined longitudinal relations among sleep and co-occurring symptoms in a large well-characterized sample of 437 children with ASD assessed at baseline and follow-up (M = 3.8 years later). Twenty-three percent experienced worsening sleep problems over time, while 31.5% showed improvement. Path analysis indicated that sleep problems at baseline predicted later development of ADHD symptoms in younger children and somatic complaints in older children. For younger children, sensory over-responsivity predicted future sleep problems. Findings suggest that sensory over-reactivity may contribute to sleep problems in some children with ASD, and that sleep problems may result in poor daytime functioning.

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Acknowledgments

The authors are extremely grateful to all the families who participated in this study. This Network activity was supported by Autism Speaks and cooperative agreement UA3 MC11054 through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Research Program to the Massachusetts General Hospital. This work was conducted through the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network.

Funding

This Network activity was supported by Autism Speaks and cooperative agreement UA3 MC11054 through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Research Program to the Massachusetts General Hospital. This work was conducted through the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network.

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MM collaborated on design and conceptualization of the study and drafted the manuscript; KD collaborated on study design, performed the statistical analyses, and helped to draft and critically review the manuscript; AN collaborated on study design and critically reviewed the manuscript; BM collaborated on study design and interpretation of data and critically reviewed the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Micah O. Mazurek.

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Drs. Mazurek, Dr. Dovgan, Dr. Neumeyer, and Dr. Malow declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Mazurek, M.O., Dovgan, K., Neumeyer, A.M. et al. Course and Predictors of Sleep and Co-occurring Problems in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 49, 2101–2115 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-019-03894-5

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Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Sleep problems
  • Anxiety
  • Behavior problems
  • Sensory problems