The relationship between sleep problems and daytime behavior in children of different ages with autism spectrum disorders.
BACKGROUND: The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the relationships among sleep problems and daytime behaviors in a large, well-defined cohort of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
METHODS: Out of a registry population of 3452 children with ASDs, a subset of 1193 children aged 4 to 10 years of age from 14 centers across the country was used to evaluate the relationship between varying levels of sleep problems and daytime behavior. Measures included Children's Sleep Habits Questionnaire, Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Survey Interview Form, Second Edition, and Child Behavior Checklist. Multiple analysis of covariance was used to assess the association between sleep and behavior.
RESULTS: Results suggest that sleep problems, as identified by parent report by use of the Children's Sleep Habits Questionnaire, have a negative relationship with daytime behavior. More specifically, children with ASDs and sleep problems had more internalizing and externalizing behavior problems, as measured by the Child Behavior Checklist, and poorer adaptive skill development, as measured by the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, than children with ASDs and no sleep problems. Children with moderate to severe sleep problems had greater behavior difficulties, but not necessarily poorer adaptive functioning, than children with mild to moderate sleep problems. Both preschool- and school-aged children demonstrated a negative relationship between behavior and sleep, whereas the relationship between sleep and adaptive functioning was much more variable.
CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that, although sleep has a negative relationship with internalizing and externalizing behavior, it may have a different relationship with the acquisition of adaptive skills.