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Sleep Difficulties and Autism Spectrum Disorders


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements. Introduction. Section A: Sleep and What We Know About It. Chronobiology. What are Biological Clocks? What is Sleep? Why Do We Sleep? Dreaming. What Changes Occur during Sleep that don't Occur at Other Times? Do Circadian Patterns Emerge as we Develop? The Brain at Rest. Is our Sleep Affected by What We Eat? Alcohol Consumption. Diet, Genetics and Brain Development. Social Interaction and Sleep. Infant Self-Soothing. Other factors that can affect sleep. How much sleep is normal? Do we need to sleep at all? What do we know about the normal range of sleep in childhood? What do we know about normal patterns of sleep? Section B: Sleep Problems in General. How sleep problems are classified. How common are sleep problems? Is it important that sleep problems are addressed? The Importance of Adequate Sleep for Brain Development. Section C: Sleep Problems in ASD. How common are sleep problems in ASD? Is it important to address sleep problems in ASD? Are there reasons why sleep problems should be more likely in ASD? Section D: Reasons Sleep Problems May Happen or Can be Made Worse. Maternal mood state and biology. The Neurobiology of Sleep. Diet, sleep and ASD. Metabolic and physiological factors that can be related to disordered sleep. Other factors that can influence sleep. Effects of sleep deprivation on brain growth and structure. CNS trauma. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Craniofacial Dysmorphogenesis. Obesity. Genetic Factors. Other genetic factors. Section E What Can You Do? Interventions - assessing the evidence. Treatment and management. Assessing the issues and doing a basic sleep clean up. General approaches to sorting out sleep. Specific types of sleep problem - what they are and what can work to sort them out. Conclusion. Resources. Useful web material. Associations and web resources. Test and treatment materials. Appendix 1 Medications Used in Sleep Disorders. What Are These Medications and How do they Work? Further General Sources of Information on Medication. Appendix 2 Complementary and Alternative Treatment Approaches. Acupuncture. Aromatherapy. Chiropractics. Dietary intervention. Exercise. Homeopathy. Hypnosis. Massage therapy. Meditation. Psychotherapy. Relaxation. Light therapy. Biofeedback. Behavioural and cognitive-behavioural treatments. Yoga. Appendix 3 Herbal Treatments. Western herbal treatments. Chinese herbal treatments. Japanese Kampo herbal treatments. Other herbal treatments. Appendix 4 Assessment Tools for Sleep Problems. Glossary. Further reading. Basic books on sleep and sleep disorders. Textbooks on sleep and related issues. References. Index.

Promotional Information

A comprehensive guide to the management of sleep problems experienced by those on the autism spectrum

About the Author

Kenneth J. Aitken is a practising clinical psychologist based in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is active among many charitable organisations and research initiatives dedicated to building a better understanding of autism spectrum disorders and related conditions, and has published numerous academic and popular articles on ASDs.


This book offers a well-researched and comprehensive explanation of sleep patterns and problems and the theories and practices that are commonly used to help addrtess sleep problems. -- Communication
For professionals, academics or for those seeking a comprehensive account of sleep difficulties this book would provide a valuable read. -- NAPLIC Matters
This is the first book that I know of dedicated to addressing sleep difficulties in ASC... This book is a comprehensive and welcome resource for professionals in understanding sleep issues in children with autism. -- AUKIDS
This is an extremely well researched book, clearly demonstrating that Aitken is of the old school psychologists who, are sadly, in my opinion, a dying breed... This is an excellent book which I highly recommend to clinicians working with children with sleep problems but is also suited to parents wishing to become more informed about the science behind sleep and some actions which might help their child. -- asteens and BFKbooks
Ken Aitken has done a remarkable job in providing a scholarly and comprehensive overview of this important but neglected topic. He offers valuable insights into the potential nature of the sleep problems associated with autism, an encyclopaedic listing of potential interventions and some useful tools to help with assessment. His careful detailing of the evidence base makes this a vital resource for any modern practitioner. -- John Clements, Clinical Psychologist
The new standard reference for all clinicians who are confronted with sleep disorders in children with autism, and for parents who need answers to the "what can I do" question. -- Filippo Muratori, Division of Child Neurology and Psychiatry, University of Pisa
The spectrum of difficulties are explained in detail as well as a broad selection of possible solutions. Desperate parents are likely to claim, like me, that we've tried all that before, but it is useful to remember that what didn't work when they were 3 or 5 or 10, might be worth another try now that they are teenagers... I agree wholeheartedly with the first step of making a 'sleep diary', only then will you be able to get a bird's eye view of the true situation... Overall, this book has a great layout, easy to follow with the data to back up the assertions and some delightful quotes to lighten the load e.g. 'It is a bad plan that admits of no modification'. -- Whittier on Autism

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