Sleep Issues

Many people on the Autism Spectrum seem to suffer from some sort of sleep challenge. It seems that their minds are too busy to either go to sleep quickly or to stay asleep for very long after they have finally drifted off.

The challenges, like most things on the Autism Spectrum, range in severity. Some Autistic people seem to sleep only a few hours every couple of days. Others sleep a normal number of hours, but take many hours to fall asleep.

Cameron falls into the category of taking forever to fall asleep. His bedtime is 7:30, but there are nights that he is still awake at nine or even eleven. 

He has always had me in the room watching television as he falls asleep. If I am not there, he takes even longer to fall asleep. 

He shares a room with us, but he is on the opposite side of the room in his own bed. It is not unusual for him to be awake until I finally give in and turn off the television. 

On several occasions, he has remained awake for an hour or more after I have drifted off to sleep, thinking that his silence means that he is finally asleep.  This is revealed when he wakes me from a sound sleep by reciting some apparently random thing he has heard from television. 

It can get frustrating sometimes. Having a child who takes so long to go to sleep and then gets up very early can cause certain parts of the marital relationship to take a beating. 

Sometimes, when he finally falls asleep and the silence settles in, we breathe a sigh of relief. Silence is rare when one is raising an Aspie child. It is better, however, than having a non-verbal child and having to guess at everything he wants. 

I know that God never gives me more than I can handle. I know this because I could never be one of those parents that only survives on a few hours of sleep every few days. I could not function and I would be grumpy. I could never be my best self in that situation. I am just glad that he goes to sleep sometime.

It seems that the less vocal children with Autism take longer to go to sleep and are awake for more hours than they might otherwise be. I can only speculate that it comes from having their thoughts trapped inside of them and no verbal outlet. 

Whether they are talkers or nonverbal, take forever to fall asleep or barely sleep at all, they are all a blessing. We parents of Autistic children wouldn’t trade the blessing that they represent for all the world.

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Posted on June 5, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Reading this post makes me realize how lucky we are with Logan. He goes to bed at 7.30 approximaely every day. He sleeps in the same room as his big brother, and neither will go to be without the other. Normally he falls asleep straight away, and sometimes he will stay away singing or laughing in the room, but normally for no more than an hour at the very most. He then sleeps through til around 06.00 every morning. He never wakes during the night, unless he is sick.

    As you say, we are never given more than we can handle, and Amen to your last paragraph I wouldn’t change my Logan for the world.

  2. I would love it if Cameron would fall asleep so easily and sleep so long. If he sleeps past 5:15 or 5:35, I am amazed.
    What usually happens is that even if he sleeps for a few minutes longer, I am wide awake, waiting for him to wake up. For some reason, my brain is very busy during that time, even though my body says I should be sleeping.

    • See I have that with my daughter. She is clearly non autistic, but is an absolute monster when it comes to sleeping. She has good days and bad days, but sadly they seem to be about even. 2 good nights, 2 bad ones, but she is awake at around 05.30 on average. My alarm is set for 04.45 every day so I can write before work so I don’t mind. I just means I never get as much written as I would have wanted to.

      • She is young, so that will hopefully improve with time. That being said, it may still be too soon to see Autism in her, anyway. Chances are, she’s neurotypical, but you never know. Cameron’s first signs showed up around 8 months, and then more clearly around two years. It wasn’t ’til he was 5 years old that we found out for sure. We just thought he was quirky. With 3 neurotypical kids, we had no reason to suspect that he would be Autistic.

        • I saw all of the signs in Logan before he was 18 months, and it took over a hear before he finally got looked at by someone. Now he is in a special school and flourishing. He has even taught himself to write numbers. He just picked up a pen, drew 10 small squares and within each one he wrote a numner and went from 1 – 10 in order. Nobody not even the school have done that sort of thing with him. It is crazy to see the improvements in him,

          Ashleigh is almost 2 and so much like her older brother it is scary. She is a naturally light sleeper, and I think that is part of it.

          • Isn’t it amazing how children from the same household can be so different? My older kids, 13, 16, and almost 18, are sometimes as different as night and day. Samantha and Kyle, the two oldest, have always been up at exactly 7:00 in the morning. When they were little, I used to say, “Come on! Can’t you ever sleep past 7:00?” My third child, Alicia, could sleep ’til 10 or 11 in the morning, if I let her.

  3. Hey sweetie, thanks for all the lovely comments on my blog. One word: Melatonin! Use it, embrace it, love it, let it rock your world.

    Get the stuff that goes under the tongue, it has saved us many times. It’s all natural and non habit forming. We sometimes use it every day for two months and then don’t need to for a while. I should have used it last night. It’s amazing.

    • I have heard of Melatonin. I hear nothing bad about it. Sometimes, it would be nice to give it a try. I obviously haven’t decided for sure yet.
      We have been somewhat reluctant to put Cameron on any medicines, but might do so if it would clearly help without taking anything away from the real “him.” Our family doctor is convinced that Cameron is a genius. He suggests that we have Cameron see an actual Psychiatrist, who will likely put him on medicine for the anxiety that he feels in certain situations.
      The doctor seems to think that Cameron could conquer the world, if his anxiety could be overcome. It has given us much to think about.

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