International Meeting for Autism Research: The Effects of Sleep Problems on Communication Skills In Autism Spectrum Disorders

The Effects of Sleep Problems on Communication Skills In Autism Spectrum Disorders

Friday, May 13, 2011
Elizabeth Ballroom E-F and Lirenta Foyer Level 2 (Manchester Grand Hyatt)
1:00 PM
S. M. Munger1, C. B. Nilsen1, M. W. Gower1, M. K. McCalla1, T. A. Perez1, K. C. Guest2 and S. E. O'Kelley3, (1)University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, (2)Psychology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, (3)UAB Civitan-Sparks Clinics, Birmingham, AL, United States
Background: When compared with children in the typically developing population, children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) experience increased rates of sleep disturbance due to sleep onset difficulties and frequent night waking. Research has suggested that certain ASD symptoms could be impacted by this heightened occurrence of sleep problems. For example, children in the ASD population who experience sleep disturbances have also been more likely to exhibit social and communication impairments. However, research is limited as few have studied specific sleep quality effects of children with ASD.

Objectives: The purpose of the current study is to determine the effects of sleep problems on communication ability in children with ASD.

Methods: Participants were included if they have an Autism Spectrum diagnosis (based on ADOS, ADI-R, and clinical opinion), were given a language ability test (PLS-3 or PLS-4), and exhibit sleep problems per parent report. For comparison purposes, children with an ASD diagnosis and no reported sleep problems were also included. Communication scores were compared between those children with ASD with reported sleep problems and those without.

Results: Preliminary data was analyzed using a Factorial ANOVA with sleep problems and diagnosis as independent variables. During preliminary analyses, no significance was found between individuals with reported sleep problems (N= 5) and individuals without (N = 18), F(1, 18)=1.505, p = 0.236. However, results indicate a trend towards significance. Evaluations are ongoing to further clarify these relations.

Conclusions: Children with deficits in communication skills, particularly receptive language skills, may encounter problems understanding daily routines and social cues which could lead to inconsistent sleep patterns. Clarifying these relationships could ultimately lead to improved sleep quality among children with ASD.

| More