This one time I tried to sleep and…
Suddenly I heard such a clatter
that I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
And what from my wandering eyes did appear?
Not a miniature sleigh or eight flying reindeer. Nowhere about did I see such sights,
but I noticed from every room there were lights.
Instantly, without even searching the house
I realized the clattering came not from a mouse.
Nor did the noise come from a magical toy.
At 3 a.m., the noise had come from my boy.
Ah yes. Sleep problems. Talk to a few people whose children have Autism, and you’ll probably find that many of their children have problems sleeping. As of now, about 85% of people with autism have sleep problems of some sort. I’ve even noticed a pattern of children with Autism who quickly metabolize medication. Squeaker has both issues. We’ve found that, for his age, he’s maxed out on his meds already.
Now, he’s on downers most of the day because stimulants give him Super Autism. No, this is not a superpower. Rather, it’s an intensification of his fixations which result in an increase in meltdowns and otherwise uncooperative behavior. So, at his last med check appointment, I told the doctor he’s been having trouble with sleep for quite a few weeks now, and that The Manager and I believed it was because of his medication regiment. Namely: His energy is suppressed all day long, so it comes out at night when his meds wear off.
I’m home with him this summer, so I decided to be brave and take him off one of his medications. After all, I don’t really like him being on so many medications anyway. So, we decided the Tenex should go, since he was resisting taking it anyway. He had already basically taken himself off of 2 of the 3 doses. I was only able to sneak in the morning dose, and honestly wasn’t noticing a huge difference in his morning and afternoon behavior.
After a few days of off-the-wall behavior, the night before last night, he appeared to have made it through the entire night sleeping. This merely means that he failed to wake me up, not that I know for sure he wasn’t up. He wasn’t pounding on his door late at night because of the child lock. Nor were any lights in the house on. I truly believe he slept through the night that night. He’s been more active during the day and has even participated in going for walks with us again, which should take care of all that energy he has bundled up inside of him.
And then, this morning at 4:00, I heard noises coming from the living room and saw lights on from under our door. I’m sure he was up before then, since all the lights were on and he had already drug out some toys. I put him back in his room with the dog (at his request), and went back to bed. He wound up closing his door (childproof doorknob in place), and he rattled the door for a bit before we didn’t hear him anymore. This did not mean he went back to sleep. Later in the morning, I heard pounding again and then he was in my room. He broke the knob off so he could get out.
I have no clue how to fix this terrible sleep pattern of his. I wish I did. Doctors have no answers for us. Melatonin doesn’t help with his sleep problems. Even a low dose of Clonazepam (prescribed by his doctor) doesn’t do anything. If it makes him go to sleep, it certainly doesn’t keep him asleep through the night.
The next thing to try is elemental iron. There is a suggestion that he may have Restless Leg Syndrome due to low iron. We haven’t tested his iron levels and we won’t be because the process of getting blood drawn is traumatic for him (and us), and it’ll take some time for the iron to get into his system enough to help if that’s the issue, but I’m going to try it. Which reminds me, I need to call The Manager and have him pick it up. Just one more thing to try to sneak into Squeaker’s little body…which is another issue entirely…but one that may be worth it.
Do your kids have sleep problems? What have you found helpful?