Autism and sleep

So what seems to be working well for these posts is just to see what ideas strike me, and go from there. I had planned on really getting into in depth stuff about the different forms of autism, but there’s so much out there, that it was looking next to impossible.

I got into a discussion with Katrin about sleep, and she has written about her struggles with sleep and what has worked for her. There are several things she does to help her sleep, like sticking to a strict schedule of going to bed at midnight and getting up at eight. This accomodates her schedule, but we talked about how others might modify that depending on their schedule. Another thing is that if she wakes up and doesn’t go back to sleep, she has to get up and move to a different spot until she’s sleepy again, and she turns off the computer and the tv too, to start calming her mind.

So I was curious about autism and sleep and decided to look into it. I found this article and it talks about weighted blankets, white noise, and melatonin supplements. I remembered Katrin talking about the weighted blanket. I use white noise and melatonin. It sounds to me like maybe the solutions offered for autistics are similar to ones offered to non-autistics, but that sleep disorders are very common in people with autism.

On the suggestion of white noise, the article says, “Individuals with autism typically have accompanying sensory processing disorder ; their brains do not process sensory input in an efficient manner. A white noise machine drowns out the surrounding sounds and allows the person to concentrate on one set of sounds.”

What I’m noticing about what I’ve read so far about autism, and I hope this won’t sound insensitive, is that it almost seems like the things that afflict autistics, are things that most of us experience from time to time, only multiplied, a lot. I can only speak from my own experience, like how it’s hard in family gatherings or large functions, to separate specific things, how I sometimes will start to feel overloaded and have to remove myself. Now I come to the sleep problems and find I use similar solutions. I don’t have a weighted blanket, but I use melatonin, and I put the bathroom fan on for white noise. I also have to fall sleep to the tv though, and I’m not sure if that falls under white noise. I don’t think it does, since the article said something about a continuous sound.

I’ve also read that auditory and visual cues are often sronger with autism. I don’t remember much about the visual stuff, but I know there are times when auditory sounds will drive me crazy. The tv will suddenly seem so loud I want to scream, especially on the new fancy dancy hi def channels. B had a movie on last night and the loud parts were incredibly loud whle the soft parts were incredibly soft. Sometimes this won’t bother me, but nights like last night, I felt like my skin was crawling when the volume got really loud, and it was all I could do to stay out here on my computer.

I’m not trying to say I relate to autistics, because obviously I don’t. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we might all have days where we feel overloaded, or can’t sleep, or whatever else. But it ends for us. I guess what I’m starting to see is that with Autism, it’s never ending. It’s manageable for most it seems, but I can’t imagine having that all the time.

So maybe the key to understanding autism, and accepting those who have it, either as friends, co-workers, parents or family, is to try and see what we might experience in our own lives and relate it to what an autistic faces daily. It seems like as humans, we tend to be a little selfish, and until we can relate at least a little, it’s harder to move towards understanding. And that is definitely the theme that I have found. People with Autism just want to be understood and accepted. Don’t we all deserve that?


Filed under Autism, awareness month

7 Responses to Autism and sleep

  1. Yeah that sounds about right. I think everyone has various times that they are over stimulated or having a sensory input issue, but for most neurotypical folks those times are brief or they can easily reset after one of those times. For me it’s a matter of coping with a constant stream of too much data. And when my brain reaches it’s max, it lierally turns off.

    Also you may want to read this transcript of a CNN program I was interviewed for a few years ago. It has some info wrong (like it says I have Apserger’s syndrome) but it is pretty good over all. And talks about overstimulation. If you can find a copy on line on the CNN site of the video it is pretty cool and really does the auditory sensory over load very well.

    Also for the sleep and weight/pressure for relaxing try looking up Squeeze Machines and Temple Grandin. She has a good article with some reasearch done on those. is that article

  2. Ro

    Awesome, I’ll check those out, thanks!

    Ok, so are these posts ok? I mean, should I be doing this? I worry a lot 🙂

  3. Also something to think about. People tell me all the time “I can’t believe you live with x, y, z constantly or so frequently. I could never do that!” But really it’s just because they cannot concieve of successfully doing it the way I do it (or anyone else) and so to them either I am amazing for being able to function to the level I do with the issues I have or the entire idea is incomprehensible to them.

    But really when you know no different and it’s been that way your entire life, you just live with it and work with it and get on with your life. Like for years and years I assumed (and still do with things probably) that somethings for me were the same for everyone else too. But then my therapist would tell me something and I’d be like “You’re joking! That can’t be true! Are you serious! EVERYONE else does it different?!” because you see to me, what I do, how I do things, and how I am successful, is just part of my life. I don’t think about how other people do things. Similar to how I bet you don’t think twice about certain things you do and if other people do them differently. But I’ll bet there are lots of things you and I do differently but get the same end point.

    For example I have a particulare way of keeping track of dates and the calendar. For most of my life I assumed other people did it the same way. It wasn’t funny to me or weird or anything. It worked. I could tell time. I could tell dates. But then one day I said something off hand to my therapist and he was like blown out of the water that I could calculate and keep track of time in the manner I did as he had never heard of anyone else doing it that way nor did it occur to him as a neurotypical person to do it my way. But either way works just as well. And my way makes perfect sense to me, while to someone else it probably would seem tedious or just plan strange.

    So just because you can’t imagine living with a nervous system that is on high alert all the time, doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to be successful with one. You just have to learn ways to cope with it and work with it. And really I don’t think about it most of the time unless I’m having an issue with it. I have safety catches programed into my life, such as using James, for when something goes awry with my hyper sensitive system and that’s just part of life. You just don’t think about it you just live it.

  4. yes Ro your posts are ok. You are doing fine, stop worrying so much! 🙂

  5. Ro

    Yes, I was planning on making that point towards the end of the mont. I think we all just do what needs to be done with our given ciercumstances. It drives me nuts when people say to me, I don’t know how you do it. Haha, of course you don’t. I don’t either, I just do it. But then I look at people like you, and I say the same thing. So I think for all of us, we look at each other maybe in wonder. I think that’s just part of admiring people. Just like I admire sopranos who can sing high notes that I can’t.

    I read that transcript and it was really good. I wish the video was there. Would you mind if I put part of that on the blog? Is ok that I reference you? If not, that’s totally fine. I do like getting permissions hehe.

  6. You can if you want, just remember that it was TV and the cut a lot of things and got some things wrong. But overall it was one of the better pieces on an adult with ASD.

  7. Yeah people are always freaked out at the way I do stuff and can’t imagine doing it my way. This is kinda the only way I know how, since I’ve been blind since I went waaa waaa waaa.

    Yeah Steve needs noise to sleep. He liked a fan, but the TV works too.

    It’s sure neat to read about.

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