Sleep in Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Window to Etiology, Diagnosis and Treatment

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Simons Foundation Lectures are free public colloquia related to basic science and mathematics. These high-level talks are intended for professors, students, postdocs and business professionals, but interested people from the metropolitan area are welcome as well.
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Understanding sleep physiology in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) not only provides a window to the underlying etiology, it can also help characterize sub-phenotypes and offer a potent treatment approach for improving neuropsychiatric and neurocognitive function in ASD through improved sleep. Dr. Ruth O’Hara will present on the field’s current understanding of sleep in ASD: a) describing how sleep physiology in ASD differs from sleep physiology in typical developing children; b) discussing the different potential ASD phenotypes suggested by her work; and c) describing the different sleep architecture, sleep disturbances, and sleep disorders that are more prevalent in ASD than in typical developing children and which can serve as treatment targets that may in turn improve the core symptoms of ASD.

About the Speaker

Ruth O’Hara is associate professor, and associate chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Stanford University. Her research integrates measures of sleep physiology, the brain and behavior across the lifespan of humans. Over the years she has obtained substantial NIH funding to support her work. O’Hara also received a Simons Foundation grant to examine sleep physiology and neurodevelopmental processes in ASD. She was a member of the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) Sleep-Wake disorders work group.

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