Our Autism Story – “Sleeping”
40% to 80% of autistic children have sleep problems. This can include problems falling asleep, staying asleep, and with quality of sleep.
For many years, Brahm had major struggles with sleep. He didn’t fall asleep and would be up all night – which meant we were also up all night! The lack of sleep significantly adversely impacted Brahm’s behavior during the day. And we felt like walking zombies.
We tried everything – strict bedtime routines, warm baths, stories before bed, white noise machines, sensory tactics, reduced lighting, waiting outside his room, social stories, etc. Nothing was working. And, Brahm was clearly miserable. One of the hardest parts of autism (as a parent) is knowing something is wrong, but not knowing what it is or how to help because your kiddo cannot communicate it to you.
One night, while Brahm was lying in bed (not falling asleep), he said something HUGE to me. Brahm said “my body is tired, but my head is not.” I suddenly realized Brahm’s mind must be racing, and it was preventing him from falling asleep. Everything just made sense at that point. I knew what the problem was, and just had to figure out how to fix it.
In an amazing twist of fate, I had just met a wonderful mom through the Autism Society. We had talked about sleep problems and melatonin. Now that I knew the cause of Brahm’s sleep problems, I reached back out to this wonderful mom to get more info on melatonin to see if it could help Brahm. With doctor’s permission, Brahm started taking melatonin every night before bed time. It is a total game changer. Brahm falls asleep 30 to 60 minutes after taking melatonin each night and stays asleep. His behavior during the day is much improved. It’s absolutely incredible that this one medication has had the biggest positive impact on Brahm – he’s now our well-rested, happy, funny big man!