At 42 Degrees

At 42 Degrees

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Autism & Sleep: Not An Uncommon Challenge,...

Last year,...Isaac was invited to a birthday party when the majority of the children attending were on the spectrum,...the other mothers and I were exchanging notes,...and it was not hard to note that over half of the mothers, myself included, had dark circles under their eyes,...nor was I the only one to have been awaken more than once in the early morning hours,...and from what I understand that Autism and sleep issues are almost a given,...

Luckily for Isaac,...he usually manages to get in HIS full quota of sleep, he has the ability to sleep just about anywhere,...even piggy-back on big brother while relishing the last few zzzz from a nap!

Finding a sleep balance with communication challenges is not easy,...nor is our little guy helped by the fact his cicada sleep cycle got off to the worst start when he spent the first three months of his life under bilirubin lights 24/7 to bring down those high levels of that dangerous bilirubin,...

Establishing a bed-time ritual with an unpredictable little personality is a challenge,...the ONLY thing predictable about Isaac is that he is unpredictable and what works one night,...will not necessarily work the other night,...but we keep at it,...and hope and pray that as maturity brings maturing tucking Isaac into bed with a hug and a kiss and tiptoeing out the room will be a reality,'s not now,...and we don't expect it to be,...there are sensory challenges,...communication challenges,...that cicada thingy...and every night and every day,...we do the best we can,...and drink LOTS of coffee,...and tag-team when exhaustion hits the bottom barrel,...because with his intense curiosity Isaac is not to be left unattended,...for a moment,...the few naps exhaustion has ever dragged me into have usually ended with our house smelling like starbucks, Isaac dearly LOVES to dump the canister of instant coffee on the floor,...or even the kosher salt in its nifty little, stainless steel container with a hinged-lid,....sooo cool, to Isaac, that hinge lid, lifts and drops, lifts and drops,...every single time,....WOW,...and of course the temptation to spill the coarse cooking salt is too great,...but Isaac is always 'sor' - sorry - and he does help clean up the spill,....and probably dreams about the fun,...his next nap time.

Naps are a problem,...if Isaac drifts into a late afternoon/early evening nap,...that means a LATE night for everyone,...and breaking our little guy of these naps is not easy,...but we are vigilant to the signs and head off every nap we can,...because Isaac will sleep so much better through the night,...although not all through the night,...Isaac has NEVER slept all through the night,...sensory, sensory, sensory,...and we all we can to help facilitate a good night,...with a darkened, blacker than black room and fortunately Isaac is not afraid of the dark,...a hum of a fan,...and thick, heavy blankets,...not a weighted blanket,..those things cost $$$$$,...but the blanket we have has nice heft and it does seem to help,...also Isaac's pediatrician has recommend melatonin,...and THAT sleep aid does cause more fluttering lids and yawns than any lullaby I could sing!

Gradually there has been progress made in the past year,...we can now all usually get two or three hours consecutive sleep a night,...and link enough of these naps together,...and no one not too grumpy in the mornings,'s not perfect,...but it is progress,...and there are those rare,...very rare nights when we're not awaken until 4 a.m.,...for us that's practically a full night's sleep. 


Needless to say,...despite waking soooo early for a drink or a cuddle or a quick recital of the alphabet, Isaac is NOT a morning person,...he's a night owl,...but preschool will be starting back in a few weeks,...and while Isaac's been enjoying sleeping in,...we have to somehow get him back on schedule for his 7:30 a.m. wake up call,...and for Isaac that's sooooooo early,...and I am usually dressing him for school while he's still asleep,...but school is school,...and school doesn't start at noon,'s tough for a little guy with sleep issues,...and for Mama too,...but I have a wider perspective and HOPE that these issues will be overcome,...after all Isaac's vocabulary and speech is taking off like a rocket,...last summer I was just getting my first, "Mama" - but this morning Isaac smacked a kiss and told me, "Love my girl." --- that's ME!!!!,...and with rewards like that I am not going to complain too much about the sleep deprivation,'s a given with Autism,...not wanted, not needed, but unavoidable,...and as long as there is coffee and those hugs and kisses,...we'll keep on,...keeping on!

Until I post again,...may God bless and keep you!

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