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. 2017 Jun;19(6):34.
doi: 10.1007/s11920-017-0782-x.

Sleep in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Free PMC article

Sleep in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Margaret C Souders et al. Curr Psychiatry Rep. .
Free PMC article


The purposes of this paper are to provide an overview of the state of the science of sleep in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), present hypotheses for the high prevalence of insomnia in children with ASD, and present a practice pathway for promoting optimal sleep. Approximately two thirds of children with ASD have chronic insomnia, and to date, the strongest evidence on promoting sleep is for sleep education, environmental changes, behavioral interventions, and exogenous melatonin. The Sleep Committee of the Autism Treatment Network (ATN) developed a practice pathway, based on expert consensus, to capture best practices for screening, identification, and treatment for sleep problems in ASD in 2012. An exemplar case is presented to integrate key constructs of the practice pathway and address arousal and sensory dysregulation in a child with ASD and anxiety disorder. This paper concludes with next steps for dissemination of the practice pathway and future directions for research of sleep problems in ASD.

Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Behavioral intervention; Biological rhythms; Hyperarousal; Insomnia; Sleep.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of Interest: Margaret C. Souders, Stefanie Zavodny, Whitney Eriksen, Rebecca Sinko, James Connell, Connor Kerns, Roseann Schaaf, and Jennifer Pinto-Martin report that the case presented in this review manuscript was a participant in a study funded by a grant from the Department of Defense.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Spielman's model of insomnia. From Spielman AJ, Caruso LS, Glovinsky PB. A behavioral perspective on insomnia treatment. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 1987;10(4):541–53
Fig. 2
Fig. 2. Actigraphy data from baseline and week 8 for participant

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