Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are known to have a higher prevalence of epilepsy and sleep disturbances, which may affect daytime functioning. Interictal epileptiform discharges (IEDs) are patterns of abnormal brain activity associated with epilepsy which have also been found to be prevalent in people with ASDs. Whether IEDs are involved in sleep disturbance in children with ASD is unknown, and this proposed study is aimed at examining potential links between IEDs, sleep, and behavior.
Researchers will test the hypothesis that IEDs during sleep may affect sleep patterns, contributing to the underlying sleep disturbance which may in turn result in behavioral problems. Dr. Barnes and colleagues will examine the prevalence of IEDs during sleep in a cohort of children with ASD. IEDs are measured by electroencephalography (EEG), which records electrical activity in the brain in a noninvasive manner. EEG and behavioral data will be used to examine the relationships between sleep IEDs, sleep disturbances, and daytime behavior in these children.