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.

#PTPA #Blogaholics Post: Summertime Sleep vs #BackToSchool Sleep

 

 

 

 

 

I posted an article about getting back into Back to School sleep patterns on PTPA’s Blogaholics. Let me know if you try any of my suggestions and how they worked (or not…I’m not perfect, just sharing what I’m doing!). Back to School

So many mom discussions I’m having now are related to squeezing out as much as we can of the remaining summer days, and of course Back to School. One discussion was with a girlfriend who couldn’t figure out what she was going to do about her daughter’s sleep patterns. As with most of us (including me), the longer days of summer mean we let our kids stay up later than usual. Her daughter has now gotten used to sleeping in late. My daughter has gotten used to going to bed late and sleeping in. I had adjusted my son’s bedtime over the summer too, but it was more related to his age than the summer. This girlfriend and I chatted about it, I told her what I was doing, and she told me to write about it…so I am!

School starts in 3 weeks so I’ve talked to my daughter about needing to go to bed earlier to make the adjustment for school easier. For this week, I’m sending her to bed 15mins earlier than her summer bedtime has been, and we’re spending the time playing with her dolls and reading, then lights out. I’m doing that for 3 – 4 nights, and then send her to bed another 15mins earlier, and repeat. My kids are at their dad’s next week so I’ll continue the pattern when they return the week after.  …

To read the rest of the article, please click here: PTPA Blogaholic Summertime Sleep vs Back To School Sleep.

My Kids Are Crowding Me Out!

Perception 

My daughter has wanted to go to sleep in my bed each night for a month or so now. When I went to bed, I would carry her into her room and she would resume sleeping there. Occasionally, she would make her way back into my bed overnight and I would wake up with her elbow in my face or something similar.

 

Last week, my son started leaving his room after going through the bedtime routine to fall asleep in my room too. When my daughter goes to bed (about an hour after my son – even though they are twins, I want to make sure she and I have some special mommy-daughter time every day, especially if my son’s needs have been very high that day), I have to half wake up my son to take him back to his room. The first two nights, I picked him up out of my bed and carried him but he’s a VERY tall 7 year old and therefore too heavy for me when he’s asleep too.  My daughter then goes to sleep in my room and again, when I go to bed, I have to carry her to my room.

 

The last couple of nights, they have BOTH climbed into my bed overnight, on either side of me. I wake up throughout the night with either my son stimming beside me on my right, or my daughter elbowing or kicking me on my left. Both are cuddling into me and very quickly, I overheat because they are both little furnaces. All I want to do is kick the covers off but I can’t because then they’ll get cold so I do this gymnastics kind of thing and pull the bottom of the covers up without waking them up, and have my feet escape.

 

I finally got lovely beds for each of my kids but haven’t been able justify spending the money on buying myself a real mattress. My parents were very kind last year and bought me a beautiful dark wood with leather headboard bedframe and boxspring. They knew that mattresses are very personal and what is comfortable for one person is not comfortable for another, so they left that to me to buy for myself. My kids both have comfy and well supported beds now but apparently my daughter prefers my bed because it’s “soft and comfy”. Not sure why my son is preferring my bed.

 

Please understand that one of the benefits of being a single parent is being able to sleep wherever you want in the bed. If you want to sleep on one side, that’s fine. Sleep on the other side, that’s fine too. If you want to sleep diagonally across the bed, no one’s there to make you move. If you kick off all the covers, only you (and the cat) get cold. Now I’m stuck, sandwiched between two smaller beings than me, and somehow they are both taking up half of MY bed, and yet I’m stuck in the middle with less than my share of MY bed.

 

Perhaps I’ll just move to one of their beds when they make their way to my bed each night. Musical beds sounds like fun!

The Wonder of a Weighted Blanket (#Autism)

In the Autism community, we are very well aware that Autism and sleep do NOT go together.  I can probably count on one hand the number of times my son has slept through the night more than 2 nights in a row. Some nights, he can get himself back to sleep fairly quickly (within a half hour) but the majority of nights, he’s up for what I call his “Autism party”, which means he’s up and playing in his room for anywhere from 2 – 4 hours, which also means I’m awake for that time too.  I’ve tried everything I could think of, including taking everything out of his room so there’s no incentive to play between 1am and 5am. My research brought me to weighted blankets, but honestly, as a single mom, the price (along with shipping costs) was too much.

A month ago, Weight on Me – Weighted Blankets held a contest on Facebook. It was so popular that initially the winner could win two weighted blankets, and quickly Jodi (the owner of Weight on Me) added a 2nd place prize of winning one weighted blanket.

Part of the contest was to have other people “Like” your comment, and “Like” Weight on Me’s Facebook page. I entered the contest, posted on my personal Facebook, moms groups, and other groups I belong to.  I was completely overwhelmed by the help I received from friends, online friends and friends of my friends. Over 200 people helped us win 2nd prize – HUGE thank you to each and every one of them!

My son surprised me by choosing a Spiderman blanket (there were other fabrics I thought he would choose over the Spiderman one, but at the end of the day, he’s still a boy!), I ordered it, and within a week, we had our blanket:

 

Most amazing of all…my son has slept through the night EVERY NIGHT (except for one where he got up to go to the washroom so that doesn’t count…he went right back to sleep) since receiving the blanket!! 

I’ve chatted with Jodi via email quite a bit since the contest and she herself has an amazing story so we’ll be sharing her story next week too. I just love that she sees every blanket as being a “hug”.

So, THANK YOU again to everyone who helped my son and I finally sleep!!

 

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.