Welcome to the Center for Sleep in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Our Aims

The Center for Sleep in Autism is one of the ten Autism Centers of Excellence funded by the National Institutes of Health. The mission of the Center is to examine to what extent dysregulation of sleep is central to the development of characteristics of autism. There is a growing consensus that the neurobiology of autism may, at least in part, be attributed to synaptic dysfunction. Synapses are the foundation of neuronal plasticity. It has been long recognized that sleep is central to brain plasticity. Animal data demonstrate that sleep is essential for the maturation of fundamental brain structures and functions.

Epidemiological findings indicate that children with early sleep disturbance suffer later from cognitive, attentional, and psychosocial problems. Sleep is a significant concern for caregivers of autistic children and adolescents. Common symptoms are late sleep onset, frequent nighttime awakening and insomnia leading to NREM/SWS fragmentation and abnormal sleep quantity.  Despite its central role in brain development and function, these sleep impairments are considered secondary in autism, frequently considered a concomitant co-occurring condition. The main goal of our Center for Sleep in Autism will be to determine if sleep disturbances reflect convergent pathways that can act as causal for, and/or co-aggravating factors of, core behavioral and cognitive differences in autism.

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