"Go the f**k to sleep." -Adam Mansbach
The last time I think that I actually slept was the night before I had Adriana, 2006. Sleep deprivation is no fun and games. It's probably one of the things that every being needs in their life. So I, of course, don't get any.
DJ does not sleep. I'm not kidding nor am I exaggerating. He's never really slept through the night and I just chalked it up to a phase. But as we approach his 3rd BDay next week, I fear that I nor him will ever sleep.
It started out innocently enough. I would hear him in his room awake and he would eventually fall back asleep hours later. But as he got older, it all changed. Coupled with his not sleeping came the screaming. I'm not talking about crying either. It's screaming, as loud as his lungs allow. It's very sad to see your child just screaming for no particular reason. Those I've talked to swear it's night terrors, but me, I'm not so sure.
It got worse a couple months ago. He would scream for about an hour or more straight. There was no light at the end of the tunnel, just sheer terror. Imagine, 3am, sudden screaming. LOUD. Then came the physical beat down he would give me every night. For some reason, I'm the one to blame. So in his frustration came kicks, smacks, hair pulling, biting, etc. He's pretty strong and I am his target.
WIth my concerns, I went to his doctor. She had no clue why? So I took him to a neurologist to shed some light on what's going on by giving DJ a sleep deprivation test. Nothing, nada, zilch. Even the neurologist cannot pinpoint what is going on. Not the doctor, his therapists, other moms, dads, strangers or even my mom.
I have tried everything, trust me. the only one that knows why DJ isn't sleeping is DJ, and he ain't talking. So as the world sleeps, I am awake. Every night, all night. When I see well rested people, I feel like slapping them silly. Not your fault, I know, I know.
My kid is like an enigma. He's really hard to figure out. I have no idea what he's capable of until he feels like showing me. But this sleep thing is one of the things that I can't handle. I'm a full time mom and a full time professional. Both of my lives are bumping heads and screaming for my attention. And I'm just a zombie, I don't know which way to go. Who's needs to I address first? The job that allows me to provide for my family? Or my family? Is the answer really that obvious because it really isn't. And this all boils down to sleep.
Children with autism spectrum disorders have more sleep issues than typically developing children. And as written at www.brighttots.com:
A number of the children with autism experience unusual patterns of sleep. Problems with sleep are common in
children and adolescents with autism at all levels of cognitive functioning. Children with autism take longer to fall
asleep, go to bed later, wake more often in the night, awaken earlier in the morning, and get less sleep overall than
typically developing children. Some children with autism display a non-24-hour sleep-wake pattern. These features are an additional challenge for caretakers. Sleep difficulties is linked to family distress and may have significant results on daytime functioning and quality of life for an autistic child.
In some cases, parents report that sleep problems are a continuous, rather than random, problem. Sleep problems
usually begin in the first or second year of life and continue. Parents describe problems such as bedtime resistance,
bedtime anxiety, delayed sleep onset, nighttime awakenings, nightmares, night terrors, sleepwalking, snoring,
bed-wetting, early morning awakenings, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Initial and middle insomnia each occurs in some children with autism who suffer from sleep disturbances, whereas terminal insomnia is not present in children who are language impaired.
Wow, as if I didn't know all of that already. So how do I ignore my child's needs when he's screaming bloody murder and I'm the only one he wants? I sit there and take the hits because I'm numb and I cry. And I cry and cry. Because I have no idea who to turn to or what to do. This experience is hard and it sucks. I'm not going to be one of those BS parents that say, "I'm a better parent because of this." So irritating, truly. Nothing tests you more as a person than this experience. It rips at your soul, your relationships, your very being. But he's not to blame for any of it though. So my journey continues.....