Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wide Awake

I know I talk about this a lot. Ok, I know I whine about this a lot. But here's the thing- Sleep deprivation is a huge part of my life. It's a huge part of the lives of many of my friend's with kids on the spectrum.

We all experience it, I know. If you have neurotypical kids, they have gone through their periods of taking up in the night, or waking up early, or having problems going to sleep. But my kids, like many others on the spectrum, take it to a whole new level.

Diva Girl needs two medicines to fall asleep, and even then she's up until 10 or 11 most nights. Without them? 2am easily. She's been known to stay up until 8am, bouncing on the couch, laughing hysterically. Rascal takes one medicine to go to sleep, and he doesn't go to bed any earlier than big sister. Of course, none of that does anything to help them stay asleep. That feat is still a mystery to me. So some nights they awake, bright and happy and ready to play, at 4am. Or, one wakes up at 2, and by the time that kid is asleep again the next one is up, and so on...

So yeah, I'm sleep deprived. The Husband and I often sleep in shifts. I'm honestly not sure what would happen if either one of us had to work a "normal" job outside of the home. Well, I'm pretty confident that we would have been fired by now.

Bad things happen when you don't get enough sleep. I'm not talking about one night, I'm talking about chronic sleep deprivation. Here is a fun list of some of the effects of sleep deprivation. Short term, it makes me a fairly rotten parent and wife. Long term, it puts my life and the lives of those around me in danger. I'm not even touching on the affect this has on the kids and their ability to learn (partially because right now I'm too sleep deprived and bitter about it to feel bad for them.)

I've run a red light with the kids in the car, almost hitting another car, because I was too tired to be behind the wheel. I've made mistakes in the kitchen that could have led to some serious harm, because I was too tired to think through what I was doing. I've basically passed out with all three kids awake and running around the house, because I was simply too tired to keep my eyes open. And I know I'm not alone, that many of my friends have had these experiences or worse. 

Adding insult to injury, we get people trying to give us advice on how to handle it. They say things like "Oh, have you tried to have a regular routine with a bath and two books at 8pm, every day?" or "Have you ever heard of melatonin?" And I want to punch them in the face. Can you just trust me that we have tried it all? And that if there were a simple way to get autistic kids to fall asleep and stay asleep easily that we all would know it by now? And that whoever thought of it would be a freakin millionaire and quite possibly have a statue erected in their honor?

So, I don't have any solutions. But I want to say, if you can't relate to this, count your very blessed stars. If you are so inclined, maybe offer to help a sleep deprived friend get a nap in from time to time. Or at least bring him or her some coffee. And ignore if they burst into tears while they hug you in thanks and go on and on about how much they love you. That's the sleep deprivation talking.
So sweet when they're asleep

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