Melatonin = Bad Parenting…??!

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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.

You Might be an Autism Parent If…

Gotta love Twitter! It’s giving me lots to work with in the last week…including a GREAT trending hashtag: “YouMightBeAnAutismParentIf…”. I’ve now “met” so many other Tweeps in the Autism community, I’m really looking forward to getting to know everyone more. The following are some of the tweets I especially appreciated:

You Might Be an Autism Parent If:

  • your child has taught you more about love, life and what truly matters, than the other way around. @Soundless2
  • you wouldn’t change your child for the world – but want often to change the World for your child!  @helenhamill
  • U discover chunk of skin is missing from his pinky & u find the chunk stuck in between the closet doors. He didn’t cry. @yupcom
  • “It takes a village to raise a child” takes on a whole new meaning @trydefyinggravity
  • you know the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown and can explain it @GPKRacing
  • you say “try again”, “use your words”, “first this-then this”, “nice hands”, “good waiting” 1000x a day.  @AutismPinoy
  • ifurheart hurts b/c not only does he have 2 overcome more. He also has 2 learn ppl will treat him badly for it  @ErronA
  • hearing your child say “I’m sad” makes you secretly happy they were able to express an emotion!  @Calormom
  • it is unfathomable to go on an outing in shoes you can’t run in @FroggyPrinceMom
  • swings, trampolines &/ or obstacle courses are main pieces in your home’s decor. @Kristin Macchi
  • you have heard more often than not “I don’t know how you do it” or “you must be exhausted” #notcomplimentspeople @LLA_Princess (so true! Just makes us realize how tired we are!)
  • you know that potty training is a multi-year project. @texascanadasean

My responses…You Might Be an Autism Parent If:

  • You can’t secure fulltime work because no one will look after your child afterschool.
  • You walk into a new venue and “see” what will trigger meltdowns and overstimulations for your child, whether or not they are with you.
  • You explain to anyone new coming to your home that your 6yo son will probably be walking around in his diaper.
  • You fake being interested in what “advice” someone who doesn’t have a child with Autism offers because they met ONE child with Autism, 10 years ago, and therefore they know everything about Autism.
  • You can’t remember the last time you slept an entire night.
  • You LOVE Melatonin!
  • You never think you’ll be partnered again because no man will want to take on the extra responsibilities of Autism (and yet I found one!!)
  • You put off your own surgery until your child can understand NOT to jump on mommy during recovery.