Join Dr Georgia Pavlopoulou on Wednesday 22nd July (12.00-12.30pm) via Facebook Premiere where her pre-recorded Advice Line Plus, episode 6 presentation will discuss the topic of ‘A good night’s sleep: Learning about sleep from autistic adolescents’ personal accounts’.

A good night’s sleep: Learning about sleep from autistic adolescents’ personal accounts

Sleep is a strong predictor of quality of life. Most autistic people struggle to fall asleep or to stay asleep during the night. Despite the importance of sleep on many domains, we don’t know what helps autistic people to sleep from first-hand accounts.

54 autistic adolescents collaborated with me in a novel adapted photo elicitation methodology, rooted in a Lifeworld framework. The adolescents were invited to collect and analyse their own data as well as discussing and presenting results in knowledge exchange events along with family and community members. We found a number of self-reported practices related to a good night’s sleep. These included personalised sensory and relaxation tools during bedtime, physical activities during day time, spending time in predictable and fun ways with family members before bedtime, following personalised schedules at home and school which allow autistic adolescents to engage with highly preferred and focused interest activities.

This study provides evidence that healthcare providers should go beyond providing a standardised sleep hygiene handout and instead collaborate with autistic adolescents to co-create a personalised sleep set of habits. Emphasis is also placed on understanding the impact of day time factors as experienced by autistic adolescents on sleep.

The study has been funded by The John and Lorna Wing Foundation.

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