This study will compare the efficacy of a behavioral parent training program (PT) aimed
specifically at common sleep disturbances compared to parent education (PE) program focusing
on general issues related to autism. In a sample of 40 well characterized young children who
meet criteria for an autism spectrum disorder (24-72 months), the investigators will test
whether the five session PT program is superior to the PE program in decreasing sleep
The primary aim of this study is to evaluate the efficacy and feasibility of a PT program for
sleep disturbance in young children with autism compared to PE.
To this end, there are two hypothesis:
- Hypothesis 1: After the end of treatment, PT will be significantly more effective than
PE in improving parent reports of a) bedtime struggles and resistance; b) sleep latency;
c) night wakings; d) morning wakings; and / or e) sleep association problems as measured
by the composite sleep index score from the modified Simonds and Parraga Sleep
Questionnaire (MSPSQ; Simond & Parraga, 1982; Wiggs & Stores, 1998).
- Hypothesis 2: At the end of treatment, children in the PT group (n=20) will display
significantly improved total sleep period as measured by actigraphy in comparison to
children in the PE group (n=20).
The secondary aim of this study is to evaluate the impact of participating in PT on child's
daytime behavior and functioning and parenting stress compared to PE.
To measure this aim, there are 4 exploratory hypothesis:
- Exploratory Hypothesis 1: Lower Irritability subscales scores will be reported on both
parent and teacher / therapist completed Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC) for the PT
group than the PE group at 4 weeks and 8 weeks
- Exploratory Hypothesis 2: Lower Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL; parent completed) and
Caregiver-Teacher Report Form (C-TRF; teacher completed) scores will be reported for the
PT group than the PE group at 4 weeks and 8 weeks.
- Exploratory Hypothesis 3: The PT group will have higher scores on the Vineland Adaptive
Behavior Scales: 2nd Edition (VABS-II) at 4 weeks and 8 weeks compared to PE group.
- Exploratory Hypothesis 4: Parents receiving PT will report significantly lower scores on
the Parenting Stress Index (PSI) at 4 weeks and 8 weeks compared to parents receiving