“There are lots of causes for sleep disturbances,” she explains.“It is vitally important to first identify and treat any underlying medical condition.” All children enrolled in the study were first evaluated by a medical specialist for potential contributory conditions such as gastrointestinal disease or sleep apnea and received treatment if needed.Given the relative lack of information on the effectiveness of alternative treatments, Dr.

“We know that many parents do research on their own, and this includes comparing notes with other parents or individuals,” says Autism Speaks Treatment Advisory Board member Dr. O., a leading researcher in the field of CAM treatments for autism.

“It’s important to remember that another person’s experience is not the same as evidence from a carefully designed and conducted study.

Also, because autism encompasses a complex group of disorders, some treatments may work for one person but not another.” Dr.

Hendren is also director of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

Fatty acids are essential for the development and function of the brain.

Omega-3 fatty acids are popular nutritional supplements and widely considered safe.

Parents also reported improvements in their children’s daytime behavior and reductions in their own stress levels.

More than a trivial matter, disordered sleep can worsen autism symptoms such as repetitive behaviors and social difficulties.

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), also called integrative medicine, is an approach widely used by families caring for individuals with autism.

Research suggests that between 30 and 95 percent of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have been provided with complementary or alternative medical treatment.

Most recently, a pilot study by Vanderbilt University Medical School researcher Beth Malow, M. S., demonstrated that – when taken regularly – a nightly dose of melatonin helps children with autism and insomnia fall asleep.