THE TREATMENT OF INFANTS AND PRESCHOOL CHILDREN WITH SLEEP DISTURBANCE
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Sleep disturbance in infants and young children has been treated using three strategies: psychotherapy, medication, and behavior modification. Three experiments were undertaken to treat sleep disturbance with infants and preschool children. In the first study, the effects of extinction was evaluated with 13 infants aged 6 to 18 months. In the second study, the effects of extinction plus reinforcement procedures were evaluated with 22 preschool children aged 2 to 5 years, and in the final study, the effects of reinforcement only was evaluated with 22 preschool children. A multiple baseline across subjects design was used in each experiment. Six dependent variables were monitored, including bedtime delay, sleep onset latency, night-waking, duration of each waking, parental attention, and the duration of sleep across a 24-hour-day. Parents recorded data during baseline, treatment, maintenance, and 18 month followup. Results showed 91% of infants (10/11) maintained treatment gains in the first study, 18 months after the termination of treatment. In the second study, 95% of preschool children (21/22) on the extinction plus reinforcement contingency maintained treatment gains at 18 month followup. Finally, 90% of preschool children (19/21) on the reinforcement contingency alone maintained treatment gains at 18 month followup. These studies demonstrate the efficacy of behavioral procedures in the treatment of sleep disturbance in infants and children.