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Sleep Med. 2012 Aug;13(7):795-801. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2012.03.005. Epub 2012 May 19.

Comparison of sleep questionnaires in the assessment of sleep disturbances in children with autism spectrum disorders.

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University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Autism Center, 3420 5th Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.



The purpose of this study was to compare two parent completed questionnaires, the Modified Simonds & Parraga Sleep Questionnaire (MSPSQ) and the Children's Sleep Habits Questionnaire (CSHQ), used to characterize sleep disturbances in young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Both questionnaires have been used in previous work in the assessment and treatment of children with ASD and sleep disturbance.


Parents/caregivers of a sample of 124 children diagnosed with ASD with an average age of six years completed both sleep questionnaires regarding children's sleep behaviors. Internal consistency of the items for both measures was evaluated as well as the correlation between the two sleep measures. A Receiver Operating Characteristics (ROC) curve analysis was also conducted to examine the predictive power of the MSPSQ.


More than three quarters of the sample (78%) were identified as poor sleepers on the CSHQ. Cronbach's alpha for the items on the CSHQ was 0.68 and Cronbach's alpha for items on the MSPSQ was 0.67. The total scores for MSPSQ and CSHQ were significantly correlated (r=.70, p<.01). After first identifying the poor sleepers based on the CSHQ, an area under the curve was 0.89 for the MSPSQ. Using a cut off score of 56 on the MSPSQ, sensitivity was .86 and specificity was .70.


In this sample of children with ASD, sleep disturbances were common across all cognitive levels. Preliminary findings suggest that, similar to the CSHQ, the MSPSQ has adequate internal consistency. The two measures were also highly correlated. A preliminary cut off of 56 on the MSPSQ offers high sensitivity and specificity commensurate with the widely used CSHQ.

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