April 9, 2012 by Marj Hatzell
Sleep issues and autism often go hand in hand. I’m always all YOU ARE TOTALLY PREACHING TO THE CHOIR, MY FRIEND when someone I know says they are tired or didn’t sleep well because, HELLO. My child is Bugaboo. Bugaboo=sleep deprivation for eleven years. (Yes, I know you are tired of hearing me b*tch about my lack of sleep. HA! I SAID TIRED! HAHAHA!)
Not everyone has sleep issues and certainly not every autistic person has them. We are just one of those lucky families where both of our children have autism AND sleep issues. Top that! HA! Hardship Olympics! NEENER!
Bug Boy did the usual “newborn who wakes every few hours” thingy as a baby and pretty much didn’t sleep through the night until three years old. While he sleeps much better these days, we have struggled with sleep walking, sleep talking, sleep singing (HILARIOUS, BY THE WAY) and all manner of flipping and flopping like a flounder in his bed. I can tell he’s having a restless night by counting how many times a knee, elbow or his head whack the wall (his room is right next to mine). Melatonin is our friend, yo.
But Bugaboo? Takes it to a whole new level.
Bugaboo slept through the night when he came home from the hospital. I kid you not, he was the easiest baby on the planet. Perfectly pleasant, ahead on his motor developmental milestones, smiley, rarely cried. He was happy to be left alone (shoulda been my first clue) and didn’t cry when he was hungry. If he woke up and I had placed him in the crib to sleep while I went to the bathroom or showered, he wouldn’t cry. He just stare at the ceiling fan. And while he didn’t nap at all during the day (not even as an infant. Weeeeird) he slept so awesomely at night I was fine with it. But his brother was still up several times a night at that point. Huh.
And then Bugaboo turned fifteen months.
And he never slept again.
Around fifteen months he began hopping out of his crib (we co-slept but he would go in there sometimes). That was the end of that. It was also when the night terrors started. And the up-all-night parties began. Up allllll night. Coincidentally it was about the time we started early intervention. Or not so coincidentally, since I swear he has the most trouble when he is going through developmental changes.
Around two we discovered the seizures and he began medication and he did sleep a little better. Like, six hours a night. And he’d take short naps. But he’d still be awake most of the night. I was a walking zombie. And Bug Boy was still waking at night. And then we discovered his seizures. And we did sleep studies and..
One summer we were in Utah. We drove across the country, stopped and saw neat stuff and got to Utah to see my in-laws and Bugaboo stayed awake. For two weeks straight (we ended up coming home very early from that trip). That’s when we decided melatonin wasn’t cutting it and he began a sleep med. That worked for a while. Until he grew. Then we increased it, he grew, we increased it, he grew, lather, rinse, repeat. Four years later we still have to tweak every few months.
Even on the sleep meds, he rarely sleeps through the night.
Which is why I blog, dog sit and sometimes babysit. Because I can stay home and do it, make a teensy bit of money and catch up on sleep in the afternoons. Because I’m a walking zombie and can’t put two coherent thoughts together.
But you know that, because you read this blog.