Sleep disturbances are associated with irritability in ASD children with sensory sensitivities

Alona Molcho-Haimovich, Liat Tikotzky, Gal Meiri, Michal Ilan, Analya Michaelovski, Hen Schtaierman, Hava M. Golan, Yair Sadaka, Idan Menashe, Ilan Dinstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Parent reports suggest that 44–84% of children with ASD exhibit sleep disturbances that are of clinical concern. Previous studies have reported that, in children with ASD, the severity of sleep disturbances is associated with the severity of either sensory problems or aberrant behaviors, but none have performed combined analyses with measures of both sensory and aberrant behaviors symptom domains from the same children. Methods: We examined parent reports of 237 children with ASD, 1.4–8.7 years old, using the child sleep habits questionnaire (CSHQ), sensory profile (SP), and aberrant behaviors checklist (ABC). Results: The analyses revealed that sleep disturbances were most strongly associated with SP sensory sensitivity and ABC irritability scores. Together these scores explained 35% of the variance in total CSHQ scores. Moreover, sensory sensitivity scores moderated the association between irritability and sleep disturbances, indicating that sleep disturbances were significantly associated with irritability only in children with moderate to severe sensory sensitivities. Conclusion: We suggest that the three symptom domains may interact and exacerbate each other such that successful intervention in one symptom domain may have positive impact on the others. Further intervention studies testing this hypothesis are highly warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21
JournalJournal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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