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Title: An investigation of circadian rest-activity levels in adolescents with autistic spectrum disorders, and a systematic review of treatments for autistic catatonia
Author: Dejong, Hannah
ISNI:       0000 0004 5360 3729
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2014
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The thesis presents a series of papers exploring catatonic symptoms and circadian rest-activity levels in autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). The thesis is presented in paper-based format and encompasses a literature review, an empirical paper and a critical appraisal. Paper 1 is a systematic review of available treatments for autistic catatonia. Catatonic symptoms are thought to occur in around 8% of young people with ASD, and it has been suggested that biological timing abnormalities may play a key role in the development of these difficulties. Twenty two papers were included in the final review, detailing treatment of a total of 28 cases of autistic catatonia. Both adult and paediatric cases were included. The range of treatments described encompassed electroconvulsive therapy, various psychotropic medications, behavioural and sensory therapies. The review highlights limitations in the available literature and suggests avenues for future research. Paper 2 explores circadian patterns in activity using actigraphy. A case series of 8 young people with an ASD diagnosis were recruited from specialist schools and asked to wear an actigraph for one week. Parents completed questionnaire measures of ASD traits and symptoms of autistic catatonia. Findings indicated a high degree of variability in circadian rest-activity cycles, both between participants and across the week. The study findings have implications for future research into circadian rest-activity levels in this population, as well as possible therapeutic applications. The final paper in the thesis presents a critical appraisal of the research, including discussion of strengths and limitations of the work, theoretical and clinical implications and directions for future research. Some personal reflections on the process of conducting the research are also included.
Supervisor: Hare, Dougal; Trayner, Penny Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: autistic spectrum disorders ; catatonia ; actigraphy ; circadian rhythm