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Multi-Year Study Follows Sleep Difficulties in ASD

By Shana R. Spindler, Ph.D. on December 18, 2013


Background: According to several studies, children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are more likely to have sleep problems than typically developing children. These include reduced sleep, night waking, early morning waking, nightmares, and the lack of a sleep routine. It is important to understand sleep difficulties in ASD as they can negatively affect daytime behavior.


What’s new: In a study that followed over 10,000 English children for 11 years, researchers from the UK and Canada recorded sleep patterns of children from six to 140 months of age. Of those children, 73 were eventually diagnosed with ASD. Children with ASD slept on average 43 minutes less than typical children at 81 months of age. The decreased sleep times began around 30 to 42 months of age and lasted until adolescence.


Why it’s important: This study highlights the need for parents to evaluate sleep problems in children with ASD from an early age. If sleep problems persist, parents can discuss therapeutic options with their doctor.

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