Monday 11 July 2016

The difficulties of sleeping alone

Autistic child is still awake as moon rises

When my partner is out or away I'm not very good at going to bed. The children tend to go to bed a bit later.  I have a bizarre dinner like cereal, or baked beans with cheese on them - if I haven't already eaten with the kids at their meal time. I watch movies - more than one.  And I got to bed very late... when I'm tired so when I get into bed I fall straight asleep.

Don't get me wrong, I like being able to be silly with dinner, and watch rubbish romantic movies with a 'it's me time attitude' in a slightly gluttonous fashion. And I'm not the only one.  My mum eats a lot of vegetable curries when dad is away and gorges on Agatha Christie and Star Trek.  But the truth is I've made my own routine, because the normal one isn't happening. I find it difficult to do what I do when my partner is here... because he's not.

And it's not just me and my mum.  As I discovered this weekend.

Routine for people with autism can make life easier.  It makes life predictable and manageable and I think for some enjoyable. some may think they are creatures of habit but it's a whole other level when you are on the autistic spectrum.  Slight changes can have big impacts... but my boys have done well recently in adapting to changes in the everyday activity of the family.

This weekend Anthony went camping with his dad for the first time ever.  They were away for three nights over the weekend. Our lad used to be picky about the toilet he'd use and now is going camping.  Brilliant. I was so concerned about how Anthony would do that it was only when they left that I hadn't realised the impact it would have on David.  It had crossed my mind but I didn't think it would be that bad after all, David's dad has been away before.  Of course, I as wrong.

After David got over the initial worry of both his dad and Anthony leaving, things seemed normal until bedtime. Anthony and David usually sleep in the same room.  When they were younger we used to go to bed and find David curled up like a cat at the bottom of Anthony's bed. Neither have been keen on the idea of sleeping alone and as such the 'masters' of our house have had the master suite to share.  They need the space for their running and jumping and sleeping.

David never actually asked for Anthony.  David is still pretty much non-verbal, but he never pointed to Anthony's bed or signed 'A' for Anthony.  But to make it short, he didn't really sleep for the three nights they were away.  He simply couldn't go to sleep without Anthony there. The first night he didn't go to sleep until gone 2am.  I'd tried and settle him several times and he was getting so tired he'd started to cry and wail a bit.  The next night was similar and then the last night before the boys came home he fell asleep about 10pm but then woke about 1am and was up for the rest of the night into the day. Melatonin or not, he would not sleep at night. David is only five years old, he needs to sleep.  He was exhausted and fell asleep while standing up by the sofa in the living room around lunchtime. 

My husband and Anthony came back last night just early enough to be involved in the bedtime routine. Everyone settled.  Everyone was asleep by 9pm. David had his melatonin as normal and everyone (even me) slept through.  Phew.

David was still tired this morning, but at least he went to school with a good nights sleep under his belt.  

Who knows which bit kept him awake; worrying about where people were, the routine being broken, his room having something missing, or simply missing his brother. Chances are he won't be able to sleep in the same room as his brother forever, and helping him cope with change is part of what we try  to do in an effort to help him learn how to cope in society and life.   Perhaps next time we will think about a plan to help him go to sleep. You never know, maybe by then he'll be better able to tell us how he feels or better able to understand what's happening too.

Our links
The slightest change can be difficult
Different possibilities can be OK
Our Melatonin mission
Our five year old autistic son was the first to mourn our dog passing

Other links
NAS - Obsessions, repetition, routines

As listed on:

Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs Run Jump Scrap!


  1. Its sounds like your son did so well going camping! What an achievement! Sorry it was so difficult for your other son. I expect your posts help other parents going through the same struggles. Love the baked bean dinners and movie, I need to get my husband to go out more ;)

  2. Sorry to hear that a break in routine caused your son not to sleep. Sleep is so important for everyone. #mmbc

  3. Sorry to hear David had a bit of a tough time trying to adapt whilst his brother was away. Change can certainly have a big impact, it's lovely they have such a close bond though.
    Hope Anthony enjoyed his camping trip too.

    Thanks so much for joining in with #MMBC Hope to see you next week x

    1. Anthony LOVED his camping trip, we've managed to all get away once together since then too. I know, I'm totally surprised we managed it!

  4. Oh goodness Hun it is so hard to figure out exactly what is causing the behaviour, like solving a million piece puzzle of a clear blue sky. We use a calendar, to help plan for events coming up and count how long etc but maybe he is a bit young to understand. I hope you have caught up on your lost sleep. ❤️ Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime 🎉

    1. Yes, Anthony does well with knowing what's happening but David seems mostly best to cope with what's happening next. That seems to be his limit, at least at home. Thanks as always for commenting.

  5. Bless what a challenge for him and you. I think it feels very strange when someone isn't in the room when you are used to it. I find it hard when hubby is away. Hope you have all caught up now and David feels less tired. Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst x

  6. I'm like you when my husband is away - late nights and odd foods - even though I know neither are good for me! How hard for your poor little one to miss his Daddy and brother so much though. It's so touching and yet so hard. Hope it gets better with time. #BestandWorst

  7. Not having our loved ones there to reassure us is hard even as adults, never mind a child and a child with autism especially. My son has recently gone through a period of anxiety before bedtime and struggling getting to sleep without someone or something (the cat) with him so I sympathise greatly. I'm glad he got he got back to normal when they returned. Tor xx #BloggerClubUK

    1. At least our normal means he gets some sleep - we are still working on sleeping through at 5 years old though! Thanks for commenting.


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