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Sleep quality and its behavioral correlates in adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorders

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 — Poster Session IV

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Natcher Conference Center




  • EE Dixon
  • BL Robustelli
  • K Rapuano
  • A Martin
  • GL Wallace


Research has shown an increased prevalence of sleep problems in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) when compared to typically developing (TD) controls. However, few studies have examined the relationship between sleep problems and behavioral functioning in ASD, particularly during adolescence and young adulthood. Thirty-seven subjects who met DSM-IV criteria for ASD and 45 TD controls matched on age (M=19), IQ (M>110), and sex ratio (14:1) were administered the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). PSQI scores were then correlated with scores from the Child/Adult Behavior Checklist, Adaptive Behavior Assessment System, Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function, and Social Responsiveness Scale in the ASD group. Individuals with ASD reported overall poorer sleep quality than TD controls (p<.05). Their degree of sleep difficulty was positively correlated with co-morbid internalizing psychopathology (r=.57, p<.01) and negatively correlated with adaptive functioning (r=-.38, p<.05). Consistent with prior studies, we found elevated sleep problems among individuals with ASD, though this is one of the first that focused on adolescents and young adults. Strikingly, we found that sleep problems in the ASD group were associated with both internalizing psychopathology and adaptive functioning. These findings further highlight the importance of addressing sleep difficulties in ASD.

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