Objective: This study compares parents' perceptions of the prevalence, severity, and pattern of sleep problems in children of normal intelligence with pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) with a normative comparison group of children.
Method: A survey including the Children's Sleep Habits Questionnaire was mailed to a sample of parents of children (age range 5-12 years) with PDDs (diagnosed by the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised) obtained by chart review of the past 7 years and to parents of comparison children matched on age, gender, and postal code.
Results: The response rate in the PDD group was 82.2% (37/45) and 55.8% (43/77) in the comparison group. By individually matching, 23 pairs were obtained. The prevalence of sleep problems in the PDD group was reported by parents as being significantly higher than in the comparison group (78% and 26%, respectively; p < .002), as was the severity (mean score 48.2 and 39.0, respectively; p < .001). Values for four of eight sleep subscales including sleep onset delay, sleep duration, sleep anxiety, and parasomnias were significantly higher in the PDD group.
Conclusions: Parents report that sleep problems are significantly more prevalent and severe in children of normal intelligence with PDDs compared with normally developing children, and the pattern appears diverse. Sleep problems in children with PDDs require further research and clinical attention.