Autism Myths, Legends, and Mysteries of Sleep 15

This post is for Danette’s wonderful Best of Best Series.  Click on the badge below on July fifteenth to see other posts on this subject.  FYI: My daughter approved this post.

BestofBestThe myth is that if your child cannot fall asleep it is due to either anxious parenting or lack of firm parenting.  The legend is that those on the autism spectrum can totally avoid sleep problems if they avoid sensory overload and they are in a calm environment.  The mystery is why those on the autism spectrum have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.

Too many parents of children on the spectrum experience judgement for their child’s sleep problems and are given poor advice as a result.  I am one of them.  I can tell you now that if you talk to my fifteen year old that she will collaborate that the environment was quiet prior to her bedtime, and I was calm as we read her bedtime stories, told her stuffed animals good night and said her prayers during her toddler years.  Her bedtime was the same every night too.  Still she rarely slept more than six hours and she frequently had trouble going to sleep and went through periods of waking up several times a night.  She completely gave up her daytime naps unless she was ill by the time she was three.

Parents are also told that if they remove bright colors and all electronics from the bedroom and keep the house quiet their child will be able to sleep just fine.  Some recommend adding deep massage and/ or aroma therapy.  My teenager will tell you this does not work for her.  There are many times that she has no idea what keeps her awake.  Her mind just has trouble shutting down when it is bedtime.  She does eventually fall asleep.  She does get enough sleep to function either by taking naps or by sleeping longer some days.

No one knows for sure what causes those on the autism spectrum to have problems with sleep yet it remains an issue into adulthood for many.  Baylor College of Medicine believes it possibly is due to alterations in the production of melatonin.  You can read about their study by clicking on this link: Treatment of Sleep Problems in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder With Melatonin – Full Text View – ClinicalTrials.gov.

I believe we need to quit believing there is a one size fits all range of needed sleep or even for the time of day people sleep.  Maybe some children and some adults do not need as much sleep as others.  Maybe some people are born night owls and need to sleep later in the day.  Mayo clinic seems to think this is true for teenagers anyway.  Click on this link to read more: Teen sleep: Why is your teen so tired? – MayoClinic.com.

Let me know what you think!

Small Rant Then Second Post in How to Forgive Series 13

I last wrote a forgiveness post on May 15, 2011.  I started it with the first definition of forgive in the 2004 version of The Merriam-Webster Dictionary is: to give up resentment of. 

Immaculee IlibagizaMy Inspiration

The few who actually read my blog regularly know that I have been working at becoming more like Immaculee Ilibagiza, the Rwandan genocide survivor who inspired me to forgive others.  I have been reading Forgive for Good by Frederic Luskin from the Stanford Forgiveness Project to help me along my journey. 

The Rant

This is where I rant.  A few short months ago I started a blog expecting that everyone related to the autism community would embrace my cause of educating others about girls on the autism spectrum and how being misunderstood causes harm.  I mailed my novel to family members thinking they would read it and understand.  I also gave copies of my novel to people at two local schools including counselors at my daughter’s now former school. 

006I wish I could tell you that everyone has been supportive and they are all helping me to promote my little novel written to teach tolerance and acceptance of differences to help decrease bullying in our schools.  Unfortunately, this would be a lie. 

Maybe I expect too much from people.  My daughter is now at a virtual school because she did not receive adequate support.  Some family members have failed to comment at all after having my novel for months. 

I am really working on forgiving those who let us down.  I believe forgiveness is the best option to avoid being consumed with anger at a world that let down not just me, but also let down my beautiful, talented, smart daughter.  I do not want to become “one of them.”  You know the ones I mean; the seemly, heartless bullies. 

Rant over!

I left off my last forgiveness post promising to tell you more about Forgive for Good and how I am doing with this.  Obviously, I am still working on forgiving.  Part III of Dr. Luskin’s book covers eight chapters.  I am only going to cover the first two steps today.   

Part III: Step I

The first step is to change the grievance story, so we are no longer the victims and to let go of resentment.   

I now realize that my daughter’s former school is an unhealthy environment for her, and I am grateful she is no longer there.  I am also letting go of relationships that are harmful while continuing to work to educate those who are willing to listen.  Others are still welcome to reach out, but I will not be begging for understanding.  I am at peace with my decision. 

I have wonderful supportive friends and some members of our family are supportive while others are trying to be supportive.  My daughter is gaining self-esteem through the support she is receiving from the autism community.  She is happy and her closest friends are supportive too.  She is telling her story and I am very proud of her.  Her story changed course, but it is still full of promise. 

Remote - CopyPart III: Step II

Changing the grievance story is step I.  Step II is to look for beauty, joy, and love in your life.  You can start with baby steps.  My project gratitude posts are my way of doing this.  You might do it another way.  Dr. Luskin calls this changing your channel and he gives an excellent analogy of TV channel surfing to illustrate how to do this so we are not stuck on the anger/ victim channel. 

Today I am grateful for my daughter’s happiness and for those who are supporting her as she tells her story.  I hope some of you also will support her meager college fund by encouraging others to read the story she inspired. 

Pondering Changing Directions 10

Cattle Egret - CopyBubulcus ibis - CopyMy camera 041

There is a new kid in town and no it is not this bird.  The bird is a Cattle Egret a.k.a. Bubulcus Ibis.  I have been wanting to get a picture of one and today I was able to do this.  His pictures seemed prefect for this post. 

The new kid is someone I love dearly and whom I totally support although I am not adding her link or mentioning where you can find her.  This is a precaution I feel strongly about since she is a minor.  I am following her just not publicly although I am glad others are following her publicly and I encourage you to do this if you have not.  I am very proud of her and I am passing the reins regarding sharing her story to her.     

That is why I am not answering questions directly related to her for future post although there will be a post of answers to questions on Mommy Lebron’s blog tomorrow.  She is aware of my answers and is okay with them, but I am not comfortable with any further questions directly about her.  Again, I want to protect her as much as possible while still encouraging her.   

Related to this, I am having thoughts about starting one or two new blogs.  I want to keep my life, as an advocate for tolerance and acceptance of differences for those with special needs, separate from things I want to post related to brain storming ideas and the writing process for my next novel.  I plan to change the tone of this blog to more general topics related to autism spectrum, bullying, and tolerance rather than specifically as it relates to my family. 

In addition, I still plan to continue to write about forgiveness and gratitude.  I am not sure if I should continue to post my forgiveness and gratitude posts here or start a third blog as obviously some of these posts are directly related to bullying issues and to my beautiful daughter.  Your thoughts on this one might help me with my decision.      

All of my blogs will be accessible from my author site as pages whatever I decide.  I hope you understand my decision.  I will be blogging here at least weekly until the end of the year.  I may decrease the posts here after that, but I do plan to keep the blog.