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.