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My Child Does Not Sleep

This morning was a tough one.

I was up until almost 4:00 AM with my son. In the haze of perseverating chatter about computer builds and salt water tanks, I was struck at around 3:00 AM, at how little my life has changed. It’s been 13 years since my son was a newborn, and yet many nights feel exactly the same.

Sleeping for short stretches, only to be awakened by the needs of a child I love dearly – but just is not equipped to sleep – is a constant in my life.

Mothering a child on the autism spectrum can be so, so tiring. Literally. So tiring.

My Child Does Not Sleep


Studies have suggested that nearly 80% of children with autism have sleep problems. This means that 80% of parents with children on the autism spectrum also have sleep problems. It is a very real, very present reality for many of us.

And, in my experience, one that most doctors and therapists cannot really identify with. “Make sure you cut out any sugar and electronics for at least three hours before bedtime,” was the constant recommendation when my son was younger. It was infuriating. We had been doing that for years, with absolutely no effect.

Sleeping for very short periods of time, only to be wakened again and again is used as torture in some countries. I for one, would like to say I understand why.

And my son is just as tired. The years of not sleeping well take their toll.

Chronic sleep deprivation has serious consequences. Increased risk of injury and disease, increased anxiety and stress, along with the day-to-day lack of function can be a devastating reality for so many of us.

Please join me today, at The Purpose Living Wife, as I discuss what we have learned about sleep deprivation and how we cope. This post is part of an ongoing, month-long series all about helping families in the day-to-day realities of parenting a child on the spectrum.

I will see you there!


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  1. So many memories of raising our son with autism mellow into humor with time. The years of sleep deprivation do not. As you say, it is a form of torture. Bless you as you endure and give care.

  2. Almost stepped on my 9 year old son when I got up this morning. He was curled up on the floor by my bed – obviously a last-ditch attempt to get a few hours sleep. We find the anxiety makes things so much worse; not only does his brain not switch off, but it is filled with so many worries and concerns.

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