Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Bed Time and Autism

Sleep has always been difficult for Bam Bam. Before his autism diagnosis, I remember going to the pediatrician's office on what seemed like a monthly basis trying to seek answers in regards to why my baby wouldn't sleep at night. My oldest son May May has always been a sleeper and he still is. He loves sleep and it's not uncommon for him to sleep 12 hours per night. My pediatrician assured me that all kids are different and that some babies are more difficult than others, but I knew in my heart of hearts that something wasn't quite right with Bam Bam.

I tried everything... I tried breast milk, gas drops, reflux meds, specialized formula, specialized bottles, the list could go on and on. The truth of the matter is that sleep was an issue for my child when he was a baby and sleep is still an issue for my kiddo as a kindergartner. As a baby, the only thing that really worked for Bam Bam was the sensory input that he received from the bottle. I remember all of the advice that people willingly wanted to shell out at me. I heard comments such as: Let your baby cry it out, your baby shouldn't be so bottle dependent, and your really need to not so willingly give into your baby's screams. This is what I want to say in regards to the criticism that I received at that time. I wanted to tell the haters that, "I am so tired from being up almost all night long and I don't want my kiddo to scream and ruin this outing for everyone so yeah I am avoiding a meltdown by giving my kiddo a bottle. Bam Bam obviously didn't have an autism diagnosis at this time, but sleep was my first clue that something wasn't right.

Sleep has gotten better as the years progressed. Bam Bam has gone from being up all hours of the night to now sleeping pretty consistently through the night. The difficulties that we experience now are way different than what we experienced in the early years. We always start the evening by laying Bam Bam down in his bed. Music is extremely calming for him, so he almost always falls asleep to music playing. The biggest challenge now is getting my kiddo to stay in his own bed throughout the night. He is an extremely light sleeper so the tiniest sound will wake him up. His reactions vary from high pitched screams, running down the hall, or sometimes he tries to jump into bed with mommy and daddy. My husband and I typically try to bring him back to his bed and attempt to get him to a calm enough state so that he falls back to sleep. If he's extremely worked up or if this has happened multiple times throughout the night, we often just let him stay in our room. When we get to this point, he is exhausted, we are exhausted, and he has school and we both have work. We pick our battles and when Bam Bam gets to this point, we really just do whatever we can to try and get him to go back to sleep. We don't want his day at school to be impacted due to a lack of sleep.

With all of this being said, I do think that Bam Bam is ready for additional tactics to be used to try and encourage him to stay in his bed for the entire night. He does do this occasionally, but not consistently like my eight year old and two year old. We have decided that we will really begin to push the sleep training this summer. I will keep you all updated in regards to how it goes!  I don't think he will ever be a 12 hour per night sleeper like May May and Bu Bu, but here's hoping that he will continue to make progress He has already come along way, and I'm hoping that he will continue to improve in this area as the years progress.


  1. Thank you for this, I look forward to reading more of your blogs

  2. Bless daughter didn't sleep through the night for the first four years of her life and still doesn't rest well. Like you I knew something just wasn't right. She had extreme sensory issues and was developmentally delayed in speech and in walking on time. All of these were corrected with early intervention and she received a diagnosis of a rare genetic syndrome that is very characteristic-like of an Asperger's child. Yes she has quirky differences and sometimes struggles socially but she is brilliant and is reading on a 5th grade level in second grade. She also excels in music and the arts. At one time my dream of the "perfect" child was shattered but I have come to realize that she is perfect just like she is and I know she will leave her mark on our world.

  3. Thank you for sharing this...I too have a 5 year old diagnosed with autism who had trouble sleeping till lately. Now he manages to sleep around 8 hours which is a blessing for him and me!

  4. Thank you for the work you're doing on your blog. I, too, have a little guy on the spectrum. I really like how you captured the mindset that I've only developed since having a child who has autism. My attitude went from trying to please everyone by doing everything the "right" way (mainstream basic parenting skills), to doing what is right for my child. I may do things that others don't agree with, but I just have to remember that I used to be that judgmental mom who was ignorant about differences in kids. Other parents of "typical" children may be wonderful, accepting, encouraging, but they're usually not. When I do find those gems, I keep them as friends. However, even they can't know what it's like from inside the tornado.
    There are some wonderful lessons learned about love, uniqueness, and kind honesty I've learned from my son.
    Lots of times it's not quite as beautiful, and there are no unicorns flying around, farting rainbows.
    At times I am a "terrible" mother. I am not above whining at my kids on a bad day.
    On the good days, however, I can experience the lovely clarity and gratitude that only come from a journey such as this one.
    I also have a blog, 4fuzzybears
    I would love to exchange links to our blogs with each other, if you'd like that.
    Have a great day

  5. My son has autism and has been an awful sleeper since birth. His neurologist recommend melatonin and it's helped a ton!