Sleep Problems in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Study of Parenting Stress, Mothers' Sleep‐Related Cognitions, and Bedtime Behaviors
Summary Introduction Disrupted sleep is common among children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Aims Our goal was to (1) examine the contribution of sleep problems to parenting stress in children with ASD as compared to typically developing (TD) and (2) to address maternal sleep‐related cognitions and behaviors in both groups. Methods Mothers of 34 ASD (mean age = 39.29 months, SD = 5.22) and 31 TD children (mean age = 36.23 months, SD = 5.75) completed questionnaires measuring maternal stress, sleep‐related cognitions and settling to sleep interactions, and the child's sleep problems; mothers in the ASD group completed a symptom severity questionnaire. Results In accord with previous research, children with ASD had more sleep problems compared to the TD group, and their mothers reported higher levels of stress. In the ASD group, sleep problems contributed to the experience of maternal stress, over and above symptom severity. Across groups, maternal cognitions and bedtime interactions were significantly associated with children's sleep problems. Conclusion The results highlight the interplay between sleep‐related cognitions, bedtime interactions, and sleep problems and underscore the contribution of disrupted sleep to mothers' experience of parenting stress. As sleep problems in ASD children are common, clinicians are advised to include sleep in consultations with parents.
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