Sleep in autism spectrum disorders: A window to etiology, diagnosis and treatment

  • Autism Research
Speaker Ruth O’Hara, Ph.D.
Stanford University
Date & Time


Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium
160 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10010 United States

Autism Research

Autism Research lectures bring together scientists and scholars to discuss diverse and important topics related to autism. The lectures are open to the public and are held at the Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium at the Simons Foundation headquarters in New York City. Tea is served prior to each lecture.

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On 7 September 2016, Ruth O’Hara discussed the field’s current understanding of sleep in autism spectrum disorder.

Her talk was part of the Simons Foundation Autism Research lecture series.

About the Lecture

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.

Ruth O’Hara discussed the field’s current understanding of sleep in ASD, including: a) describing how sleep physiology in ASD differs from sleep physiology in typically 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 typically 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. Over the years she has obtained substantial National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding to support her work. O’Hara received a SFARI grant to examine sleep physiology and neurodevelopmental processes in autism spectrum disorder. She was a member of the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) sleep-wake disorders work group.

Past Lectures

Progress in understanding the genetic basis of mental health

Benjamin Neale, Ph.D.Associate Professor, Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital
Associate Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Associated Researcher, Broad Institute

On May 6, 2020, Benjamin Neale discussed progress in mapping genetic risk factors for autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Autism, autisms, or neurodevelopmental disorders?

Jason Lerch, Ph.D.Director of Preclinical Imaging, Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging, University of Oxford
Adjunct Scientist, Mouse Imaging Centre, The Hospital for Sick Children
Associate Professor in Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto

On January 29, 2020, Jason Lerch explored this question: What do modern ways of looking at brains and genes tell us about autism – or autisms – and its relation to attention deficit disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other related disorders of brain development?

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