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Sleep Med Rev. 2009 Dec;13(6):403-11. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2009.02.003. Epub 2009 Apr 24.

Sleep problems in autism spectrum disorders: prevalence, nature, & possible biopsychosocial aetiologies.

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  • 1Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre, School of Psychological Science, La trobe University, Bundoora, VIC 3086, Australia.


As considerably more people are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), interest in the associated behaviours, including sleep problems has increased. This has resulted in a subsequent increase in the research related to the sleep problems occurring in people with an ASD. This article summarizes and evaluates the current literature related to a) the higher prevalence of a sleep problem compared to typically developing children, b) the specific types of sleep problems for people with an ASD, and c) the possible aetiology of sleep problems in the ASDs within a biopsychosocial framework. It is concluded that recent studies confirm that the majority of this population are likely to experience sleep difficulties, with settling issues in children with an ASD the most commonly reported. However, exploration of the types of sleep difficulties and associated aetiological factors in the ASDs is still in its infancy.

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