Case Study: A Case-Series Evaluation of a Behavioral Sleep Intervention for Three Children with Autism and Primary Insomnia

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Objective To assess the effectiveness of a manualized multi-component behavioral sleep intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and primary insomnia. Methods Three children (2 males and 1 female, aged 8–9 years) participated. The intervention consisted of a treatment handbook for parents; a distance treatment approach was used in which parents had weekly telephone contact with a therapist. The main behavioral strategies employed were Faded Bedtime with Response Cost and positive reinforcement. Within a case-series design, both subjective (parent-report questionnaires and sleep diaries) and objective (actigraphy) measures were used to record changes in children’s sleep and daytime behavior. Results For all 3 children, mean sleep onset latency was reduced following the intervention. These improvements were generally maintained at follow-up 12 weeks later. Conclusions The current study provides preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of a manualized behavioral sleep intervention program for improving insomnia in children with ASD.

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