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Arizona research nonprofit seeks volunteers for autism sleep study

PHOENIX — The Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center is looking for a few Valley volunteers.

It’s looking for autistic kids between the ages of 2 and 17 1/2 who have trouble sleeping.

“We’re involved in a new trial that’s investigating a new version of a medication that helps children fall asleep and stay asleep,” said Chris Smith, director of research at SARRC.

Smith said the study involves the drug Circadin, which is a timed-release variation of melatonin.

“The melatonin often helps kids — and anybody, really — fall asleep. But it doesn’t help them stay asleep,” Smith said. “Through this new timed-release pattern, it might release melatonin throughout the night and help kids stay asleep longer.”

Smith said the two-year trial only involves 10 visits to a clinic, and that no blood will be drawn.

Parents of participants will have some homework to do, though.

“We ask parents to record a sleep diary in the beginning, so that we can get a baseline measure of how well the child is sleeping or how great their disturbance is,” said Smith.

If you have a child whom you’d like to participate in the study, contact SARRC’s Ericka Mullinix at (602) 218-8183 or emullinix@autismcenter.org.