Friday, January 02, 2009

Time For Sleep.

Time for sleep. Indeed. One of the challenges we are currently dealing with is that Max's sleeping is hit and miss. He typically sleeps through the night, but as I've mentioned previously, when his schedule is off (as it has been during the holidays) or he isn't feeling well, he tends to have a hard time going to sleep and staying asleep.

As he gets bigger and stronger, this poses more and more of a problem. He is now in a regular twin bed (with a padded headboard and safety rails on both sides, and a body pillow across the bottom). His room is very safe - the only furniture in it is his bed and a dresser (that he can't tip). He has a bead toy and a musical/light carousel toy, and his books to keep him entertained, but that is it. Once he is in his room, he is there to stay, and he is not able to open the door from the inside because of the child safety knob.

While we know he is safe, it is still very hard to deal with what I call "episodes" when they occur in the middle of the night. He basically starts shrieking at the top of his lungs, and alternates banging on the door with throwing his body into the door (makes a great big loud sound because the door is wood and hollow to boot). When we go in to check on him, he is fine - all smiles, in fact. It seems that all he wants is attention, and perhaps to party.

After consulting with a Behaviour Therapist about the situation, we learned that

a) we have to be consistent with how we respond
b) we are not to let him out of his room (assuming he is fine and not sick)
c) we are not to take him downstairs to watch TV

If we break any of the rules, we are basically starting the re-training all over again the next time he has an episode, because he has learned that his behaviour will get him what he wants (which is out of his room and downstairs). The kicker is that Max can stay up all night with no problem if we do let him out - which leaves all of us exhausted the next day. So, as much as it kills me to do it, I have to leave him in his room and let him "work it out". Some nights this behaviour lasts 20 minutes, other nights it lasts 2.5 hours. Last night was a 2.5 hour night, and at one point I thought I would literally go outside and lay down in the snow, because that would be somehow better than sitting listening to my son wail in misery. I did check on him once to make sure he was okay, I brought him some milk and showed him the "time to sleep" visual we use to communicate to him that he needs to got to sleep. Neither worked, but at least I tried.

Today I am spent, both emotionally and physically, and have said a few little prayers to the Goddess of Sleep that Max is able to make it through the night tonight without waking up the entire house. If you could put in a good word for us with whoever it is you believe in, I would truly appreciate it.


  1. Thanks for the melatonin link, kat! I'm definitely going to try it.

    A. xx

  2. good for you for committing to consistency.....I always say with our kids (both with autism and NT) that the short term easy solution makes for a long term hard one. Do the hard part straight away and you're setting up everyone for success.....exhausting it is though!! Good luck....Max is adorable!!

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