Sleep…What is it? How can we get more? How much is a enough? How can kids with Special needs get their sleep so we can get ours?
As parents we ask ourselves many different questions almost daily regarding sleep. In our circle, we are truly sleep deprived and it doesn’t stop at the toddler years.
My journey with sleep deprivation begin long before the dinosaurs. At least that is what it felt like at the time. My NT child who will be graduating from high school soon, had no issues with sleeping through the night when he was an infant. My friends were very surprised. The child was sleeping through the night at 10 weeks. Yes you read it correctly…ten weeks.
BP came along in 2002 and of course I didn’t think too much of sleeping issues at that point. I was more worried if he could point to things, crawl, walk, talk, and do all the toddler things. That wasn’t the case and when he was diagnosed with Autism at 6.5, sleep issues started to creep up and stay.
It might have begun when the boys had to share a room in a tiny apartment. I say “might” because it could have begun way before than and I just never took the time to notice. It was decided that we would get bunk-beds because that was the most logical thing to do to save space. Mistake number one out of 500,000 mistakes. But life itself is full of those, but that’s another post. On the other hand, BP would not have slept if it hadn’t been for the bunk bed. It was a problem of doing. Now what does that mean you ask? Brendan’s gross motor skills are weak. He had to sleep up on the top bunk for a few months, which for him was a disaster. He could climb up okay, but he could not climb down. It was such a struggle, for him day after day of being stuck in that bed. Wetting his bed because he couldn’t climb down. Daily have would have to be his teacher and convince that it was okay to climb down. Finally, after a very long battle with fear of climbing down from his bed, he did it! After 2 years of help with ABA therapy. I was free and so was BP!
Fast forward to another few years and a house later. Brendan finally would be getting his own room and his own bed. At least that what we thought. Financially we were going through a rough patch. So for about a year, Brendan had no bed. He slept with me for an entire year in my bed. We were able to purchase a bed for him for his own room! So, another problem arose. BP was not exactly thrilled to say the least. Needless to say were going to be dealing with the same problem we had years ago and try to answer the age-old question: How will we get BP to sleep in his bed all night?
Fast forward to April of this year…
We needed a strategy. What would it be? BP wasn’t having the bed at that point. Something to get him to at least be interested in thing. Why would you not be interested in a nice new soft fluffy mattress to slumber on? I’d trade beds anytime. Mine is ancient and there are earthquakes every time someone sneezes. So my first thing was to try to make it motivating. He loves red. I purchased red sheets, red blackout curtains, he had a very cool Lava lamp that I had purchased for his room before and I even decided for Christmas to purchase those glow-in-the-dark-stars to stick on the ceiling. Then some nice lighting. We had also purchased a TV for his room for his birthday the year before. So the kid was set. Right? Wrong.
This recent experience with trying to get BP to sleep in his bed has made me an expert on behavior methods. To be continued.