I noticed the change in his sleep when he was a year and a half. Personally, I thought it was from tummy issues and growth spurts. At two, his sleeping patterns became worse. I brushed it aside, thinking that maybe it was because he and I had recently moved that was the culprit and we were finding our rhythm. I now know different.
Around 80% of children diagnosed with autism have sleep problems and my little one is part of that 80%. I know that for a week or two, on average, E will have insomnia. It’s like clockwork.
In E’s case, he will refuse bedtime. He will want to just continue to play and honestly, I’ve found it’s better for me to let him. Let him wear himself out with play to a certain point and then I step in. I’ll start by turning off some lights. Then I’ll tell him it’s cuddle time and we will read a book. Some nights we will practice some yoga to calm down. He thinks we’re playing but then he focuses and starts to relax and gets sleepy. Yay, mom win.
It’s all routine. He loves his routine. After we do that, he has to take cars (hot wheels) to the bedroom for the two of us. Two each every time. Then we turn off the lights. Turn on the white noise in the bedroom. (White nose is a must.) Then finally, it’s bedtime. Sometimes he will lay down alone; sometimes I stay for a until he falls asleep.
Some nights it will take him an hour to fall asleep, all while stimming to help calm his brain. Some nights, those nights where he pretty much plays until he drops, he is asleep within minutes.
Some nights are better than others. Some nights, I wonder if either of us will ever get sleep. I’ve become use to going off 3 hours of sleep. It’s not ideal at all but sometimes I have no choice. As a single parent, I get no help. No one to trade off and share responsibility. My boy is my full responsibility and I do what is needed, always.
This week, we are having sleepless nights again. Tossing, turning, the occasional screaming out. Sometimes he sleeps but it’s a restless sleep. Music and me singing to him helps put him to sleep again.
It’s just one of those things that I deal with each month. It’s also another thing that I go through that no one, friends or family, fully understands.