Sleep is a very important factor in my life.
I personally LOVE to sleep.
When I was single, I often came home after work, kicked off my shoes and treated myself to the 3 hour “God, I feel soooooooo good” nap.
Sometimes I even dared to do the “hell it is JUST one night wasted” sleep marathon. Falling asleep after work and sleeping until the next morning.
Since becoming a Mother the naps and marthon sleeps have ceased. I am not bitter over the loss, I can assure you I stored up enough ‘extra” sleep in my 20’s to help me through 10 more years 🙂
In the 6 years I’ve woke to feed a baby, sooth a sore tummy, bad dream or nudge Jack to put the dog out I can honestly say I have had very little problem going back to sleep. I crawl back into bed, turn over and –> lights out. I still wake up several times though the night and are thankful to have a spouse that will allow me to sleep longer in the am but I really don’t complain about the sleep issue. (ok,I have been recently grumbling about having to start back on a work schedule of 5 am wake up call. That seems cruel, doesn’t it?)
Lately, Lincoln has begun to wake up about 2 am upset that he does not want to sleep anymore and this continues until someone can coax, calm and comfort him back to sleep. He tells me sleep is boring him and he doesn’t want to sleep. He asks why we sleep at night and why we have to sleep.
autistic children are known for poor sleep and sleep issues. Nobody really knows why but it is a commonality that appears to amplify many behavioral issues and sensitivities.
Before we ever started wondering if there was something going on with Lincoln that was out the realm of “typical” we did have many bedtime problems that appeared to escalate without reason.
At the time Grayson joined our family and Lincoln moved to a big boy bed he began to find it difficult to “shut down” and settle into sleep. He would at first just find it hard to transition from wakeful to sleepy, he was tossing and being silly…typical kid stuff. By 2 1/2 Lincoln would stare off into ‘space’ babbling rapidly about things we found difficult to dicipher to the point we would firmly grasp his shoulders to make eye contact to try to get through to him to talk with him. He was not upset or anxious, angry of fearful just not there. We started to refer to it as being in his “own little world”
We have always been the type of parents that don’t believe in leaving a child to cry it out. When the children woke, even as babies, I always went right to them and comforted them with a snuggle of hug, handhold or climb into bed and cuddle. Our bed is often full of kids plus dog. It is us. (I do admit, a Queen sized bed really isn’t meant to have 3 kids, a dog a Dad and pregnant Mom in it and I often slept at the end of the bed, cover less and cranky when carrying Bishop)
When Lincoln moved out of the nursery I put a baby gate across the door of his room and when he awoke he’d stand at the gate and call us to come get him. These things gave him comfort, for he knew someone was there and not to be afraid. If he had a bad dream, he’d climb in our bed and he’d feel safe.
As Lincoln has grown his bedtime routine has also matured.
It took realizing he benefited from a very understimulated bedtime activity (no tv right before bed or computer a nice bath, some stories as well as a good “heads up” that in so many minutes bedtime was coming) His brothers getting older and sharing in the bedtime routine I believe also assisted in getting him calmed and ready for bed.
At 5 he will tell you when he is tired and ask to go upstairs. He shares a room with his brothers and has Grayson as a sleeping companion so he is not scared or lonely. He normally can be heard once or twice a week laughing in his sleep so I figure he is happy 🙂
He has come far from the days he fought sleep, and scared us with him tirades before he settled in.
It seems wrong to take a parent who really has to give 110% all day longer to help their child along and then give them sleep deprivation. (And I speak of other parents of children with ASD, I am very fortunate that my son sleeps well)
I wonder why sleep seems so difficult for children with ASD. Do they have problems shutting down or is sleep scary for them?
From one person who thinks sleep is one of life’s best offerings, I sure hope it isn’t the latter.