Sleep Dysfunction and Behavioral Daytime Problems in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Comparative Study
To compare parent reported sleep behaviors of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and normal healthy controls and to examine the association of sleep disturbances with daytime behavioral difficulties in children with ASD.
Sixty ASD children (85% boys) (Mean age=6.1 y, SD=2.4) were recruited from the Psychology unit of the Department of Pediatrics of a tertiary care hospital. An age and socio-economic status matched group of typically developing (TD) children (N=60) were also recruited. The Children's Sleep Habits Questionnaire (CSHQ) was used to measure sleep problems. The Childhood Psychopathology Measurement Schedule was used to measure day time behavioral difficulties.
Sleep problems were nearly two times more prevalent among children with ASD (88.3%) as compared to the TD group (46.7%) (χ2=23.74, P=0.0001). The total CSHQ and 6 out of the 8 subscales scores of the ASD group were also significantly higher than the TD group. Overall, children with ASD displayed significant more bedtime resistance than controls (t= 3.95, P=0.001). The sleep duration subscale showed that children with ASD, relative to the TD group, slept too little (χ2=23.08, P=0.0001), did not sleep the right amount of time (χ2= 11.86, P=0.003), and displayed significant variation in the duration of time slept (χ2=11.96, P=0.003). In addition, parent reported sleep dysfunction had a significant relationship with daytime reported behavior difficulties (r=0.53, P=0.01) in children with ASD. Stepwise multiple regression analysis revealed that 30% of the variance in number of daytime behavioral problems was explained by only two variables: total CSHQ scores and duration of night awake time (F=11.18, P=0.001).
Children with ASD are at a high risk for sleep problems and this is associated with daytime behavior disturbances. Pediatricians should routinely screen ASD children for sleep problems and initiate timely and appropriate interventions.
KeywordsAutism spectrum disorders Sleep dysfunction Behavior problems
The authors are thankful to all the families who participated in this study.
PM, PS, and NS: Conceptualized and designed the study; AK: Collected the data and did the literature search; PM: Coordinated and supervised data collection, conducted the statistical analysis, and wrote the manuscript with critical inputs from all the authors and all the authors approved the final manuscript. PM will act as guarantor for this paper.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
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