The Luxury of Sleep

I have a few favorite autism parent bloggers.   And sometimes I laugh with them and other times I cry with them. But I always feel better knowing that I am not in this boat alone.

So I thought I would share some of those blogs with you and share how they relate to the Autism Super Mom family.

Bacon and Juice Boxes: Our Life With Autism, wrote a great blog on sleep or the lack thereof. (click here to read “Sleep (a little bit of fiction about a struggling dad“)

In the more than 25 years that I have been an autism mom, I have spent many a night either sleeping so lightly that I can hear the slightest noise coming from Buddy’s room or being woke up several times by a random toy, or the giggles of an overtired boy fighting to stay awake, to stare into the eyes of his favorite stuffed animal.

If I had to guess, I’d say my average night’s sleep is between 4 and 5 hours.   I have had some nights that I managed to get 7 blissful hours of sleep, and more than I can begin to count, that I was lucky if I could get 3.

The neurotypical  parent would say…”Can’t you give him something to sleep?”  To which I would say, sure…but he fights through it until about 3am, and then crashes, and I have to wake him up for school, which means he will be sleepy when he needs to be awake.   “Can’t you just let him stay awake until he passes out from exhaustion?”   Sure, I can do that too…Buddy has stayed awake for days, literally. (I think his record was 4 days straight).  And if he’s awake, so am I…and I have a full time job, so then my work suffers.

“Well, what do the doctors say?”  First off, there are very few doctors that have more than textbook knowledge of autism.

Buddy’s pediatrician suggested a teaspoon of Benadryl  every night for his first 5 years.    As a teen they suggested Melatonin.  This worked fine for about a month, then he adjusted to it.

Now that Buddy is an adult, I have a system.   When Buddy starts on a sleepless bender, I  never let it get past 48 hours, before I  give him a piece of cheese laced with an adult OTC sleep aid.  Once he gets that first good night of sleep, he will get back into sleeping through the night…6 hours or so.    But we are only blessed with a “normal” sleep pattern for about 3 weeks and then it starts again.

So when I read Mr. Bacon’s blog, I laughed and cried.   I understand that every little click, light, and buzz is keeping Buddy awake on those bad nights, and I do feel guilty after I storm into his room at 3am screaming at the top of my lungs “GIVE ME THE TOYS AND GO TO SLEEP!!!!”  But I have to admit that sometimes I get a tiny bit of satisfaction seeing him jump when the “mom voice” comes out.

~ASM

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