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Quantitative-Analysis of Behavioral Interventions to Treat Sleep Problems in Children with Autism.

  • Carnett, Amarie1
  • Hansen, Sarah2
  • McLay, Laurie3
  • Neely, Leslie4
  • Lang, Russell5
  • 1 a San Antonio Applied Behavior Analysis Research Consortium, University of Texas at San Antonio , San Antonio , TX , USA.
  • 2 b Georgia State University , Atlanta , GA , USA. , (Georgia)
  • 3 c University of Canterbury , Christchurch , New Zealand. , (New Zealand)
  • 4 d San Antonio Applied Behavior Analysis Research Consortium, University of Texas San Antonio , San Antonio , TX , USA.
  • 5 e Clinic for Autism Research Evaluation and Support, Texas State University , San Marcos , TX , USA.
Published Article
Developmental neurorehabilitation
Publication Date
Jul 29, 2019
DOI: 10.1080/17518423.2019.1646340
PMID: 31355702


Sleep is an essential activity for human development. Often, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are affected by a lack of sleep due to various types of sleep problems. We identified and analyzed studies that were aimed at utilizing sleep interventions for children with ASD. A systematic search of databases, reference lists, and ancestral searches identified 18 studies for inclusion. Studies were summarized in terms of (a) participants, (b) targeted sleep problem and measures, (d) intervention components, (e) research design and rigor, and (f) results. The aim of this review was to analyze the literature by evaluating the most commonly treated sleep problems, the various treatment components, and strength of the results using a between case parametric effect size estimate. The most commonly treated sleep problems were night wakings and bedtime disturbance. For interventions, all the studies incorporated multiple treatment components, most often including the use of a consistent bedtime routine. Effect size calculations indicated a moderate effect size, however, limited due to the small number of studies. Results suggest the overall effectiveness of behavioral interventions for the treatment of sleep problems for children with ASD. Based on our analysis, suggestions for practitioners regarding current practices and future directions for research are discussed.

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