Behavioral Sleep Education for Children with Insomnia and Autism Spectrum Disorders: Partnering with Community Practices

2016 Strategic Research Award

Beth Malow, MD
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Key Project Outcomes

We studied how well we could partner with doctors, nurses, and therapists in the community to help children with autism sleep better. The study came about because there are very long wait times for sleep care at many medical centers.

We trained therapists to teach parents how to help their children sleep better, using a brief (90-minute) session with two short (30-minute) sessions one and two weeks later. We found that therapists could be trained on the sleep education principles and could educate parents on how to use these principles with their children. We also found that the parents showed a high level of comfort, understanding, and implementation of the principles. Children were shown to sleep better and to have better sleep habits.

Our work shows that doctors and psychologists at academic medical centers can partner successfully with those in community practices. Our next steps are to expand our work to children of typical development and to conduct larger studies in communities.