Sleep Problems in Relation to Autism Severity, Problematic Behaviour and Parental Distress in Children with Low Functioning Autism

Jojo Joseph, Natasha Thomas

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One of the most burdensome and profound complaints among parents of children with autism is disrupted sleep, with more than 40-80% of the children experiencing sleep problems, compared with 25-40% in typically developing children. The consequence of disrupted sleep is potentially serious; it may exacerbate core ASD symptoms. Research is limited on sleep and its relation to behavioural problems and parental distress in low functioning autism. The main aim of the current study is to assess sleep problems in relation to severity of autism, day time problem behavior and parental distress in children with low functioning autism. A descriptive cross sectional design was adopted for the study among 40 children aged between 6-16 years of age, recruited from selected special schools and autism centres in Kerala. Sleep problems,autism severity, problematic behavior and parental distress were assessed using the Children’s Sleep Habit Questionnaire (CSHQ), the Social Responsive Scale (SRS), the Disruptive Behaviour Disorder Rating Scale, and the Parenting Stress Index respectively. Prevalence of sleep problems were more among children with low functioning autism. All of the children in the study met the cut off score of sleep problems in the CSHQ. However, sleep problems were not correlated with severity of autism, problematic behaviour and parental distress. Findings showed that autism severity is related to parental stress (p=0.046) and problem behaviour (p<0.01) in children with autism. It was also observed that problematic behaviour in children is correlated with parental stress (p=0.019). Study results emphasize the need for implementing interventions to reduce sleep problems, problematic behaviours and parental distress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-21
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Child Development and Mental Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


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