Treating sleep terrors in children with autism.
Sleep terrors manifest themselves as a sudden arousal from slow wave sleep accompanied by screaming, crying, and other signs of intense fear. Children with autism spectrum disorders may be more likely to display problems with sleep, and some children experience such sleep difficulties as sleep terrors on a chronic basis. This nighttime disruption can lead to a great deal of concern, as well as disruption in sleep for other family members. In this first study of the treatment of sleep terrors among children with autism, the effectiveness of one behavioral intervention (scheduled awakenings) was evaluated. Scheduled awakenings involved arousing the child from sleep approximately 30 minutes before an expected sleep terror episode. Results through a 12-month follow-up using a multiple baseline across three children indicated that this intervention quickly and durably reduced the frequency of their nighttime difficulties. Scheduled awakenings is a potentially useful nonmedical intervention for chronic sleep terrors among children with autism.
Durand, V.M. (2002). Treating sleep terrors in children with autism. Journal of Positive Behavioral Interventions, 4, 66-72. doi: 10.1177/109830070200400201
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