Tag Archives: sleep

Oh, So Fabulous!

16 Oct

Alphonse turned in early these last two nights, a rather unusual occurrence these days. I tend to forget he is almost twenty, and that 9pm bedtimes no longer apply to almost-full grown adults like him.

We’re transitioning to a new teacher this week and you know Alphonse, he instinctively reacts to change. We’re glad it seems he likes his new teacher but I know he will miss Teacher Paul when the week is up. So far (knock on wood), the only thing we’ve noticed is a change in his sleeping pattern (knock on wood again).

The other day, he woke up at 4am all bright and chirpy. He and I waited for sunrise while watching videos on YouTube but the second he saw sunlight streaming through the curtained windows, he grabbed his dad by the wrist and forced him to stand up. Then he pointed to the car keys and half-dragged his bleary-eyed father to drive him around the block.

It came as no surprise he was out like a light early that night. Wanting to take advantage of this, I decided to call it a day too. But just before I turned off the lights, Alex called out to me in a whisper and said, “Look at Alphonse, Mama. He is fabulous!”

I took a peek at Alphonse, already fast asleep in his bed. His body was slightly bent at the waist, his arms stretched upwards and bent at the elbows, his hands lightly touching the sides of his head. There was a small smile playing on his lips, He looked so calm, so peaceful, so beautiful. He did look fabulous!

And did I tell you? He slept through the night!

Alex was right.
Alphonse is fabulous. Even in his sleep.

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P.S. Who doesn’t love this sweet, sweet smile?

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Repost: Sleepless in Autism

15 Mar

It’s coming back more often these days- the sleeplessness. For three straight nights this week, he has gone to bed later and later than usual, keeping the whole household up till the wee hours of the morning. Last week was the same story. At two in the morning, I had to let him go to the schoolhouse to expend his manic energy until he fell to bed exhausted. And yet at the first sign of sunlight, he was up again, seemingly unbothered by the few hours of sleep he got.

It’s a wonder he can run on so little rest and sleep whereas I am dullheaded and fuzzybrained already. Ah, well, as long as the good humor stays, we’ll make it through more nights like this. I pray.

~0~

October 4, 2010

It is one of the most beautiful things in the world, the sight of a child sleeping the sleep of innocents.

Our family was lucky for many years. For all of Alphonse’s aggression and self-injurious behaviors, we could always count on him to fall asleep at a reasonable time and stay asleep the whole night. We were always ran ragged during the day- exhausted, nervous, and tense- but nighttime was respite time, something to look forward to at the end of a miserably difficult day. As Alphonse grew older and the combination of age, education, exercise, and medication smoothened the edges of this high-strung, excitable child, sleep also became his respite time rather than just ours.

Unfortunately, in the last three months, he has been having great difficulty going to sleep. When my husband and I discussed it today, we realized that Alphonse has had more sleepless episodes in the last three months than in the preceding three years combined. Last night, he was awake the whole night, falling into exhausted sleep only at five in the morning. Four hours later, he was up and about. A few weeks ago, he was awake for more than 36 hours, prancing and pacing throughout the night, sometimes laughing himself silly, sometimes shouting himself hoarse. A few days before that, he clocked in at four in the morning, beginning our day earlier than usual.

When he does not sleep, my husband and I do not sleep too. “Cannot sleep” is probably the right operative phrase. We watch him, keep him safe, keep him company, and attend to all his needs. On days following Alphonse’ sleepless nights, while he greets the world with chirpy smiles and bouncy Tigger jumps, his parents turn into robots on automatic pilot, with not much of an active intelligence. What gets us through the day, I really don’t know; we just do. Perhaps it’s the same thing that got us through more than five years of violence and aggression in our home- sheer grit.

On nights when Alphonse keeps us awake, I imagine a safe place for him inside our home. I imagine a room where the walls are safe, strong, and padded, where comfy furniture without hard edges allow him unrestricted movement without worry, where he has plenty of sturdy and safe toys to keep him company. As it is, our room (he shares our bedroom) is securely bolted from the inside to prevent him from wandering, some of the walls now have unsightly dents and marks from furniture slammed accidentally against them, and one wall of the wooden cabinets has a large hole where he kicked it from excitement.

Without this precious time for sleep, our house falls apart a little. And I think, so do we.

Sleepless in Autism

4 Oct

It is one of the most beautiful things in the world, the sight of a child sleeping the sleep of innocents. 

In those few hours when the conscious mind voluntarily surrenders to rest, the whole world stops for the child and lets him be who he is. Young, carefree, untroubled, unburdened. Sleep lets him put his guard down. It removes his defenses from the world around him. And on those few hours of dormancy, he is simply a child. Sleep is the universe where there is no autism;  it does not exist. Yet, for many children with autism, sleep is often the one thing they miss out on the most.

Our family was lucky for many years. For all of Alphonse’s aggression and self-injurious behaviors, we could always count on him to fall asleep at a reasonable time and stay asleep the whole night. We were always ran ragged during the day- exhausted, nervous, and tense- but nighttime was respite time, something to look forward to at the end of a miserably difficult day. As Alphonse grew older and the combination of age, education, exercise, and medication smoothened the edges of this high-strung, excitable child, sleep also became his respite time rather than just ours.

Unfortunately, in the last three months, he has been having great difficulty going to sleep. When my husband and I discussed it today, we realized that Alphonse has had more sleepless episodes in the last three months than in the preceding three years combined. Last night, he was awake the whole night, falling into exhausted sleep only at five in the morning. Four hours later, he was up and about. A few weeks ago, he was awake for more than 36 hours, prancing and pacing throughout the night, sometimes laughing himself silly, sometimes shouting himself hoarse. A few days before that, he clocked in at four in the morning, beginning our day earlier than usual.

When he does not sleep, my husband and I do not sleep too. “Cannot sleep” is probably the right operative phrase. We watch him, keep him safe, keep him company, and attend to all his needs. On days following Alphonse’ sleepless nights, while he greets the world with chirpy smiles and bouncy Tigger jumps, his parents turn into robots on automatic pilot, with not much of an active intelligence. What gets us through the day, I really don’t know; we just do. Perhaps it’s the same thing that got us through more than five years of violence and aggression in our home- sheer grit.

On nights when Alphonse keeps us awake, I imagine a safe place for him inside our home. I imagine a room where the walls are safe, strong, and padded, where comfy furniture without hard edges allow him unrestricted movement without worry, where he has plenty of sturdy and safe toys to keep him company. As it is, our room (he shares our bedroom) is securely bolted from the inside to prevent him from wandering, some of the walls now have unsightly dents and marks from furniture slammed accidentally against them, and one wall of the wooden cabinets has a large hole where he kicked it from excitement. 

Without this precious time for sleep, our house falls apart a little. And I think, so do we.

Sleepless Nights

6 Jul

Two in the morning and Alphonse and I were locked in a battle of wills. Sleep was the last thing on his mind as he pranced around the room, making loud happy noises. Despite my entreaties for some quiet, Alphonse willfully ignored me, in turns, pacing and prancing and shaking the room with sudden jumps, all the while making his guttural noises and ear-piercing shrieks.  

Tired from bargaining (which obviously was not doing the trick), I loudly announced that that was it, I was tired and I was going to bed. I made  a big production out of yawning, rubbing my eyes repeatedly, and stretching my arms. I noticed Alphonse pause for a while and look at me from the corners of his eyes. Pretending I was oblivious to him, I rustled the sheets, making sure I had got his complete attention by then. And then I said “Good night, Alphonse” and promptly closed my eyes.

I held my breath for what seemed like ages as Alphonse seemed to consider what had gone on before him. And then, quietly this time, he returned to his pacing and prancing, this time, with soft, happy noises.

After a while, he went back to bed, covered himself with his blanket, and fell to sleep himself.  It seems like with the audience gone, the star finally needs his rest.

The Sandman

10 Jan

Zzzzzzzzs 

Alphonse woke up unusually early this morning. At a little past five, he was rubbing his eyes off of sleep and raring to go out and play. I kept him with me till around seven; we watched a little television, chatted a bit (well, I talked; he merely smiled and nodded occasionally), and cuddled in my fleece blanket. When he got his PECS card for “play,” I knew I had to give in to his polite requests before a meltdown ensued. I called his nanny for reinforcement while I downed a cup of the blackest coffee I could tolerate. At seven, I was still bleary eyed and unfit to face the world.

Blame the late nights I keep. Most of the time, I get started on housework or personal stuff after he turns in for the  night (which on really good nights is no later than half past nine). On occasion, however, when he’s had a really exciting day, he finds it hard to calm down and sleep. Three nights ago, he was up till midnight, setting my own clock later than usual. And today, he was up before the sun was!

We’ve never had a lot of problems with his sleep, unlike many parents of children with autism.  A friend whose son is also on the autism spectrum complains that her son survives on three to four hours of sleep every night. And because both our kids tend to wander when awake, she’s up with him till he catches those few hours of Zzzs.  To our good fortune, Alphonse has always been a good sleeper because his body clock is so regimented. He turns in relatively early every night and puts in a good 10 to 12 hours of sleep – like clockwork. I get to do more when he’s asleep so I tend to stay up late and try to finish whatever needs to be done. And while I do get things accomplished in those hours, it throws my body clock off-kilter. Then, I have to deal with insomnia, which, of course, I battle with a lot of late-night reading. Oh, I hope that last night’s interrupted sleep is not a portent of things to come. (Cross your fingers!) 

It’s quite ironic that I write about sleep today, when I was reading Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman (volumes 1 and 2)” till I dozed off really late last night. (I’m not a big graphic novels fan but my husband is. Me thinks he’s trying to turn me on the craze by introducing me to those he knows I’d enjoy, like “30 Days of Night” and “The Sandman.”) With my bad eyesight, it’s hard enough to make out the words written in small print, much more look at all the swirly colors and fine details. But the storyline is really good and I am almost ready to forgive my husband for his indulgence in pricey “komiks” (I can almost hear him say “Graphic novels, honey, not comic books”). I am actually looking forward to the rest of the series tonight when he comes home.

Till then, I think I’ll make good on “The Sandman” and catch a few more real Zzzs.

Zzzzzzzzzz. *Snork*. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz…