Emma Baker, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, OTARC Alumni, on the types and causes of sleep problems in adults with autism
By OTARC Master of Clinical Psychology candidate, Stephanie Mertins and Associate Professor Amanda Richdale
Parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often report more child behavioural, gastrointestinal and sleep problems than do parents of typically developing (TD) children.
Many people with ASD report problems with sleep, but most ASD sleep research to date has focused on children and adolescents, with only a few studies involving adults with ASD. We also know very little about which aspects of sleep are problematic; is it difficulties with going to sleep (sleep onset latency), staying asleep (total sleep time), frequent waking during the night (wake after sleep onset), or less total sleep. There is also very little research into how daytime functioning is affected in adults with ASD who sleep poorly. One of our students, Emma Baker, has therefore decided to study sleep problems and how they are related to daytime functioning in adults with ASD. Emma is studying for her PhD under the supervision of Associate Professor Amanda Richdale who is one of the international experts on sleep problems associated with ASD.
I have a 6-year-old daughter who has been diagnosed with ASD. I have received many recommendations from other parents regarding the use of melatonin to aid my daughter’s sleep. She is a typical ASD kid, who can be in bed by 8pm after the shower, reading, drink routine, but still active 3 hours later. Any advice you have would be appreciated.
By Amanda Richdale
Late last year 96 primary caregivers of 101 children aged 2 to 5 years (average age 4 years) participated in an anonymous survey titled ‘Bedding, Diet and Sleep in Children aged 2 to 5 Years’. The survey was funded by Australian Wool Innovation. The following is a summary of the main findings.