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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A family centred, positive behaviour support approach to sleep problems in a child with autism Zylka, Rachel


Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) report a significantly higher frequency and severity of sleeping problems than typically developing children and children with other disabilities. Sleeping problems most commonly reported include difficulties with sleep onset, maintenance, irregular sleep routines, and co-sleeping. A number of studies have used behavioural interventions to treat such sleeping problems. However, a number of methodological limitations have been identified with such studies. Additionally, there are a number of other clinical limitations that may affect the acceptability, meaningfulness, and sustainability of treatment outcomes. A Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) approach to behavioural interventions has been identified in the research as a viable approach to address such outcomes. This study evaluated an approach to behavioural intervention that synthesized evidence-based practices in PBS and the treatment of sleep problems in children with ASD. This study investigated the effectiveness of a parent-implemented PBS plan to improve the sleep problems of a child with ASD during a bedtime routine. A 4-year-old child with a diagnosis of ASD and his mother participated in the study. The study employed a single-subject case study design, using a multiple probe strategy. Results indicated improvements in child sleep behaviour and participation during the bedtime routine following implementation of the PBS intervention. The results are discussed with reference to previous research, unique contributions to the literature, future directions, and implications for practitioners and researchers who are involved in interventions for children with ASD and sleep problems.

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