Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sleeping all night is such a luxury with Autism and cats!

No, this is not about cats with Autism. Read on....

My son who has not slept through the night for 2 months, outside of the week he had the flu a month and a half ago, has slept 2 nights in a row! Our cats slept, actually slept, on the edges of the bed instead of trapping us in one postition like traffic cones.

To understand why this is such an event, you must know a few things about how my son's Autism affects his sleep. He normally goes to sleep before 8 and sleeps all night. However, when he was little he either fell asleep at a normal time and woke up in the middle of the night and would not go back to sleep or was so involved with stimming or just off the wall with energy that he wouldn't go to sleep until 1 AM or later. Since he was little he also has gone through 2-3 month cycles where he will sleep pretty well and then for 2 weeks have a hard time going to sleep or wake up in the middle of the night and not go back to sleep.

Complicating matters is the fact that my son has very little verbal communication. That doesn't mean he doesn't speak. He has severe echolalia which means he quotes movie lines and sings song lines, a lot. He uses some single words and 2 word phrases for mostly food, books, movies and music. Pointing is a Godsend which he didn't start doing until he was around 5. So when he can't go to sleep or stay asleep he has no way to tell us why and we can't help him. I have become Sherlock Holmes to figure out my son's needs through decifering his behavior.

For about the last 2 months (not every single night but more often than not) he has been going to bed at 10:30-11:00 PM or going to sleep by 8 and waking up at 12-3 AM and not going back to sleep!

My cat Bandit sleeps with me/us most nights and has been waking me up all night. He is only a little over a year old and still has that kitten energy and the curiosity that killed that mythical cat. I love that he sleeps with me. I don't love the bed gymnastics with his straws. Yes, I am a genius, I taught my cat to fetch drinking straws. Brilliant, right? We can't use straws in our drinks because he immediately locks down on their location with his kitty radar and snatches them from our drinks. We have a kitty toy basket and when they are all put away in there he will cherry pick them all out and put them in a pile. I promise I will post photos as soon as I can remember to take the pictures when he is doing it.

I think he thinks he is a dog. The minute he hears noises outside he either runs over to the door and starts bugging out and meowing or jumps in the window to see what is out there. Almost every window in our house has his wet nose markings on them. I have never had a cat that messed up my windows like that. I swear he is channeling Lassie when he comes and bites my calves, or stands on his back legs and scratches my butt and meows to alert me to cat vomit or some other kitty crisis like too much pee pees and poo poos in the litter box.

Wow, thats my brain for ya, talking about sleep issues with my son's Autism which of course naturally leads to my cat's wierd behavoir.

I have apparently trained Bandit well, he just woke up from a nap and fetched straws on camera. Enjoy.


Betsy said...

Hi! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog! I see we have an instant connection! :)

My boys didn't sleep through the night until we started giving them a dual-release melatonin. Now they sleep 9pm to 7 am every night.
I remember those sleepless nights...and we had 2 cats at the time, too! No fun!

Tripletmom said...

Do you find that the echolalia is an attempt at communication? I knew someone who would echo what she heard from a movie or in her daily life, but what she was actually doing is trying to communicate to those around her what that scene meant to her. The difficult part was the "meant to her" part - it was not always what the scene meant to others. It could be what the situation made her feel, or the scene of a movie made her think of something else that happened in her life.

Do you use PECS with the boys at all? Sign?

Queenbuv3 said...

Oh yes, my son has quoted a line from something and it has been an attempt to communicate. My favorite story is the time my husband went to my son's room to bring him down to eat his bread and jelly (we put his seizure medication under the jelly) and he came down and said "There's no time to eat." I think it was from one of the Land Before Time movies. He said this a couple times when he came downstairs to get a snack and just cracked me up. I said,"I know you just have such a busy schedule." Of course he hasn't said it since. I always respond to anything he says to encourage verbal communication.
He uses a picture schedule at school but all attempts to get him to use PECS have failed. He just doesn't like using them. He is supposed to be having an assistive technology eval done soon through the school.

Mom's Fortress of Solitude said...

Thank you for commenting on Alex's funny story.

I have seven year old twin boys, one with autism and the other with APD (auditory processing disorder).

Please don't feel alone in your sleepless nights, as we have those, too. I still have not found a way to overcome this nightly intrusion.

My son with APD had severe echolalic behavior up to age five. I couldn't get through one sentence in a bed time story without him chiming in halfway through the statement.

This bedtime ritual was like we were all trying to sing 'row, row, row your boat,' each starting at a different time than the other.

Oh yah . . . and we have dogs (3 Maltese) who sleep with us, too. Most nights go without a hitch with those three, but last night, they were on a rampage!

Looking forward to reading more.

Please feel free to email if you would like to chat.


Queenbuv3 said...

It's amazing that I am not a coffee addict with all the sleep deprivation. I really feel that God (and a cup of coffee in the morning and in the afternoon)give me just enough energy to get through the day. I just started working out again at the gym and I've been finding that I can get by with less sleep, go figure! I'm actually disappointed when the cats don't sleep with me but if they did every night I would be a zombie! Looking forward to more of your blogging! God bless : )