|To Sleep Perhaps To Dream Photo Courtesy of Chris McKim|
One of the things they don't tell you when you get the A-Word diagnosis is that you will most likely NEVER get a decent night's sleep. Sleep disorders, and simply the LACK of a need for more than an hour or two sleep per night is almost universal amongst people with autism. Which means those in an Autism household ALSO suffer from a lack of sleep. Your most intimate fantasies will from now on in centre around SOMEHOW getting 40 winks
I can't remember what it is like to have a full night's rest. After 23 years of sleepless nights, my body is now so attuned to it, that even when I get respite, I can't sleep.
My 20 year old son Eric (ASD) was put on medications for anxiety a couple of years ago, and a wonderful side effect was that, for the first time ever, he slept more than 1 hour per night. I cant tell you how incredible that felt. He may not have needed the sleep, but I certainly did. And when Eric is awake, I am awake. When he was young, that was for safety reasons, he is a wanderer. And also to protect the house. He would flood the bathroom any opportunity he had, or place inedibles in the microwave. So yes, you had to be awake.
Now it is for different reasons.
As he has aged, and his abilities have grown, if Eric is awake you are awake, because HE WONT LET YOU SLEEP.
He will wake you to look at pieces of paper, or toys.
He will wake you with his 200+lb frame hopping all around the bedroom.
And worst of all, he will wake you with this
This particular episode lasted 4 hours. Non-stop. Yup.
Sleep is a magical thing for an Autistic person, and those who love them. Magical, and elusive.
As I write this I am so sleep deprived that I am listening to a soft rock station, and enjoying it. I am so tired that I had to re-write that three times. I am so tired.... wait, is Eric asleep?
If ever you come across a genie in a magic lamp, please, for all us Autism Mamas and Dadas out there, ask for a peaceful nights rest.
I beg you