Autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability: a pilot study exploring associations between child sleep problems, child factors and parent factors

Nicole Papadopoulos, Chloe Emonson, Christina Martin, Emma Sciberras, Harriet Hiscock, Samantha Lewis, Jane McGillivray, Nicole Rinehart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Sleep problems are common in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, few studies have undertaken group comparisons of sleep profiles and factors associated with poorer sleep between children with ASD without intellectual disability (ID; hereafter referred to as ASD) and ASD with co-occurring ID (hereafter referred to as ASD + ID). This study aimed to (1) compare child (sleep problems and emotional and behavioural problems (EBPs)) and parent factors (parenting stress and mental health) for children with ASD compared to children with ASD + ID, and (2) examine the associations between sleep problems and child and parent factors in both groups. Parents of 56 children with ASD (22 ASD, 34 ASD + ID) aged 6–13 years took part in the study. No statistically significant differences in sleep problems were found between children with ASD compared to children with ASD + ID. However, total EBPs were independently associated with child sleep problems in both groups. Further, ‘Self-Absorbed’ and ‘Communication Disturbance’ EBPs were significantly greater in the ASD + ID compared to the ASD group. Overall treatment outcomes for children with ASD may be further improved if consideration is given to the specific types of EBPs being experienced by the child and their association with sleep problems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11377
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Children
  • Intellectual disability
  • Parents
  • Sleep problems

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