Earlier this week, I jokingly stated the following on my Facebook Page: ”Umm, my son has fallen asleep on the floor, wrapped up in a blanket. Anyone willing to come help me pick up my 100lbs ‘baby’, carry him up the stairs, and put him to bed? He’s in melatonin state. Anyone? Nope. Oh well, thought I would try. “
Surprisingly, it sparked quite a bit of conversation back and forth. One person shared with us that she’s been called a bad mom for giving her child with Autism melatonin to help him calm down enough to sleep.
Whenever I’ve encountered that type of “feedback”, I calmly ask them how much sleep they got last night, the night before, and each night for the last week. Usually, they will say anywhere from 6 – 9 hours. I then explain to them that without melatonin, my son’s natural sleep pattern is he’ll finally fall down (and I mean literally fall down) and go to sleep around midnight (after an 8pm bedtime routine), sleep until about 2am, and then he’ll be up for the next day. Most times, it’s enough to stop them from questioning my family’s need for melatonin.
Other times, they will make the comparison between his sleep pattern and being the parent of a newborn. I will ask them how they felt when they had a newborn. Exhausted. Yes, and when did your child start sleeping through the night? Usually I get an answer of anywhere from 1 – 3 years old. I then remind them that my son is 8 years old and if it wasn’t for melatonin, he probably wouldn’t have slept more than a couple of hours per night since he was born…and without naps either. I’ve never had anyone question beyond there.
I personally always look at these types of conversations as an opportunity to raise awareness about Autism and special needs in general. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes there are conversations where I’m tempted to lose my patience/temper and tell the person off, but I don’t…unless they are stopping me from ensuring my kids are safe, then all bets are off!
I just keep reminding myself that, when I was pregnant with my kids, EVERYONE had an opinion of what was best for me during my pregnancy, until I laughed and told them I was having twins. Rarely did anyone know what to tell me other than some distant person they heard of who had a horrible multiples pregnancy and birth. I would respectfully tell them that I didn’t want to hear about worse-case scenarios because if I wanted to focus on that, all I had to do was pick up ANY book about pregnancy. That’s the ONLY information out there – doomsday information about giving birth to twins.
Then EVERYONE had an opinion about everything baby-related: cloth diapers (nope), breastfeeding (yes…for a year!), immunizations (yes), baby carrying (nope), co-sleeping (sometimes), feeding routines (yes), strict bedtime routines (yes), etc.
Then EVERYONE has an opinion about preschool and school-ages: daycare (yes), work outside the home (yes…for a while anyway for me), homeschool (nope), after school activities (yes), have assessments done for potential diagnosis (yes!!!), etc.
I’m still confused by why people believe there is only one way to raise a family…their way. The old saying “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” is true. If your family is blessed with special needs, then you know what is best for your family; if your family is blessed without special needs, you still know what is best for your family. Why on earth would you be telling the other family how to best raise their family???
Everyone is an expert…in raising THEIR own family.