Autism Spectrum Disorders (Autistic Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Asperger Disorder) are severe developmental disorders of early childhood onset affecting as many as 1 in 150 children (Center for Disease Control &Prevention, 2007). They characterized by deficits in social interaction and communication, as well as repetitive behavior and restricted interests (APA, 2000). Given the severity and the prevalence, autism is a significant public health issue. Recent years have seen both an increase in the prevalence of autism and an improved ability to diagnose the disorder much earlier (Fombonne, 2003). It is during the child's early years when it is generally agreed that intensive interventions are most likely to improve long term prognosis (National Research Council, 2001). While not a core feature of autism, it is widely accepted that a large percentage children with autism spectrum disorders (autism) present with significant sleep issues (Honomichl, Goodlin-Jones, Burnham, Gaylor &Anders, 2002;Johnson, 1996;Wiggs &Stores, 2004). Sleep problems in typically developing children are known to adversely impact daytime functioning, learning acquisition, as well as parenting and family functioning (Dahl, 1996;Ebert &Drake, 2004;Sadeh, Gruber, &Raviv;2002;Sadeh, Raviv, &Gruber, 2000). For young children with autism whose development is already compromised by a range of deficits, the detrimental impact of sleep disturbances may be even more significant. However, the impact of sleep disturbances on optimal performance in behavioral and education interventions has not been systematically explored. In response to the Program Announcement (PA-07-343 - Psychosocial / Behavioral Intervention and Services Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders), this application describes a pilot study to conduct a randomized clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of a behavioral parent training program in the amelioration of sleep disturbances in young children with autism. This work will be used to examine the feasibility, acceptability and efficacy of a behavior training program for sleep disturbance in children with autism. It represents a low cost and rapid clinical approach to the problem in this younger age group.

Public Health Relevance

This pilot project will evaluate the efficacy of a behavioral parent training program for sleep disturbance in young children with autism compared to a parent education program. Children between the ages of 2 and 5 years diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder who also have significant sleep disturbance will be recruited for this 2 month study.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Planning Grant (R34)
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Interventions Committee for Disorders Involving Children and Their Families (ITVC)
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Sarampote, Christopher S
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University of Pittsburgh
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Johnson, Cynthia R; Turner, Kylan S; Foldes, Emily et al. (2013) Behavioral parent training to address sleep disturbances in young children with autism spectrum disorder: a pilot trial. Sleep Med 14:995-1004
Johnson, Cynthia R; Turner, Kylan S; Foldes, Emily L et al. (2012) Comparison of sleep questionnaires in the assessment of sleep disturbances in children with autism spectrum disorders. Sleep Med 13:795-801