FROM THE SERIES: AUTISM PARENTING
We went to a local mom’s group meeting and felt like misfits. These ladies were speaking a language we did not understand. We were all moms, but what we shared in common pretty much stopped there. Being at this meeting made us realize how different our lives are from those of neurotypical parents. On our ride home, we processed all that we had seen and heard and the emotions conjured up for us. We realized we needed to share what we thought about on our blog because so many of us can relate.
We overheard a conversation between Rebecca and Carrie. Rebecca was talking about how her 9 month old wouldn’t sleep through the night. She had to get up twice a night, give him a bottle, and soothe him back to sleep. She was exhausted she told her friend. She couldn’t think straight, her eyes were blurry and burned all the time, and she was finding it hard to keep her emotions in check.
If only Rebecca knew our friend, Cindy, who has a 16-year-old son with autism. She hasn’t had a full night of sleep for the last 16 years. When her son wakes up at night, there is no way to soothe him back to sleep.
A glass of water doesn’t help in fact, it makes him wet the bed.
Reading him a story doesn’t help, it over-stimulates him and makes his unexplained, uncontrollable night-time laughter even worse.
If she lets him watch a movie or tv, his noises get so loud that it wakes her husband and other children.
On the nights when her son has a tantrum, she can’t let him “cry it out” because he destroys his room and their house in an uncontrollable rage.
Even on the nights when her son decides to play quietly by himself, Cindy can’t ignore him because he can no longer be safely confined (like a baby, unable to walk) in a crib. The quieter he gets, the more scared Cindy becomes because then she knows her son is up to something. She worries whether he’s escaped out of his room or worse yet, out of the house.
So, for the last 16 years Cindy starts her day whenever her son chooses to get up. If he wakes up at 2:00am, that’s when Cindy makes herself a cup of coffee and sits with her son feeling all alone in the world. Cindy no longer complains about her situation. She knows it’s a strong possibility he will never outgrow his insomnia and she’s made peace with it.
Cindy knows she is the glue of her family. She has no choice but to move on with life and be a good wife and mom to her other children. On top of this, Cindy manages to be a good daughter and friend to many. Where does she find the inner strength?
Message to parents with children who sleep through the night:
If you happen to be out late and see a single, lonely light in the night, think about Cindy and all the other autism parents struggling with children who won’t sleep… and count your blessings.
We have more stories and thoughts to share with you from our day at the mom’s group. Please stay tuned…
For more information on our autism awareness series: AUTISM PARENTING, go to: http://ventography.wordpress.com/category/autism-parenting-2/