International Meeting for Autism Research (London, May 15-17, 2008): Sleep Quality in Mothers of Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Sleep Quality in Mothers of Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Thursday, May 15, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)
A. Richdale , Psychology, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
J. Chu , Psychology, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
Children with a developmental disability (DD) have behavioural and sleep difficulties, and their mothers may have poor psychological well-being.  However the impact of these factors on mothers’ sleep quality has not been explored.  
To explore relationships between children’s sleep and behaviour and mothers’ psychological well-being and sleep quality in children with an ASD and or a DD.
Mothers of children with an ASD or other DD returned demographic information, a children’s sleep questionnaire, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), the Parenting Hassles Scale (PHS), and the DASS-21 depression and anxiety scales by mail. Data were analysed using t-tests, Chi-square and correlations as appropriate.
Forty-six mothers returned questionnaires. Twenty-seven children had an ASD (6.9 ± 2.1 yrs) and 19 children had another DD (8.0 ± 2.8 yrs); their mothers’ mean ages were 39.1 ± 6.0 yrs and 41.8 ± 6.2 years respectively. Age differences were not significant. There were no significant group differences for total scores for any parent measures, but children with an ASD had poorer behaviour and more settling problems. Both groups of mothers’ PSQI scores indicated poor sleep quality.  Nevertheless differences between the ASD and DD groups emerged. No ASD child variable was significantly associated with the PSQI, but both DD children’s sleep and behaviour were significantly associated with the PSQI.  While depression, anxiety were associated with poor sleep quality for both groups of mothers, associations with stress (PHS) largely differed; total stress and child-related issues were important in the ASD group and siblings featured for the comparison group.
Mothers of children with developmental disabilities have poor sleep quality, but factors contributing to this are not consistent across disabilities.  In particular, child-related stress appears to contribute to ASD mothers’ poor sleep quality but not DD mothers’ sleep quality.
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