The study aimed to investigate a group of children with severe learning disabilities,
challenging daytime behaviour, and severe sleep problems to see if successful behavioural
treatment of the children's sleep problems resulted in reduced daytime challenging behaviour
as reported by mothers and teachers.
A randomised controlled trial of behavioural interventions for the children's sleep
problems was conducted (N=30). The intervention group received an individually tailored
behavioural programme and were supported by telephone calls from the therapist. Baseline
assessments of the children's behaviour were made using the Aberrant Behavior Checklist
and were repeated 1 month and 3 months after the start of intervention.
There were no behavioural changes that were specific to children in the treatment group.
However, improvements in some behaviours were seen in both the intervention and the
control group at the 1-month and 3-month assessments and there was agreement between
mothers' and teachers' reports for many of these changes.
The results suggest that nonspecific effects of participating in the study (including an
increased sleep duration, which was seen in both groups), rather than resolution of sleep
problem per se, may have a beneficial effect on child behaviour and these factors need to be
identified for therapeutic use.