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Keywords:

  • Asperger's disorder;
  • autism;
  • behavioural treatment;
  • children;
  • medication;
  • sleep problem

Abstract

Background  Sleep problems are common in typically developing (TD) children and in children with autism, however, less is known about the sleep of children with Asperger's disorder (AD). The aim of this study was to compare sleep patterns of children with autism and AD to a TD group of children.

Methods  Sixty-six parents of TD children, 53 parents of children with autism, and 52 parents of children with AD completed a survey on their child's sleep patterns, the nature and severity of any sleep problems and success of any treatment attempted.

Results  The results showed high prevalence of sleep problems with significantly more problems reported in the autism and AD groups (TD = 50%, autism = 73%, AD = 73%), with no significant differences between groups on severity or type of sleep problem. Children with AD were significantly more likely to be sluggish and disoriented after waking and had a higher Behavioral Evaluation of Disorders of Sleep (BEDS) total score compared to the other two groups. The autism and AD groups reported significantly better treatment success for medication compared to the TD group. The autism group reported significantly better success for behavioural treatment compared to the AD group.

Conclusions  In conclusion, children with AD may have more symptoms of sleep disturbance, and different types of sleep problems than children with autism. As this is the first study to compare autism and AD and to survey treatment outcomes, further research is needed to validate these findings.