Autism Dad: “Sleep with me, Daddy” (Follow-Up Piece)

Just call me Mr. Hyprocrite.

Ben, and a couple years later, Ryan, slept in our bed from day one. More accurately, they slept with their mother while I lived like a bachelor in the downstair’s bedroom. Well meaning friends advised us to read books warning of the perils and injury that was to be visited upon our kids. Some counseled us, others simply judged us. Heather stood her ground. I took the side of our critics, but for a different reason — I wanted more alone time with Heather.

Ryan

Now, as a single dad, I have a “different perspective” (sounds nicer than hypocrite). In “Sleep with me, Daddy,” I described what became a sort of revelation for me — the intense connection I felt sleeping with Ben and Ryan, the naked intimacy.

And now, months later, I must report that it wasn’t a one-time thing; on the contrary, it’s become the norm when I have my boys with me, like I do this weekend; and I’m loving every moment of it, for which the psycho-babblers will surely condemn me. 

Ben

It got me thinking. It would be very revealing to take a sample of my readers on this issue. So here goes:

  • Do you sleep with your kids or have you in the past?
  • When are children too old to sleep with their parents?
  • Should it make a difference if the child has autism?
  • Are single parents more likely to sleep with their kids? 

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Editor’s Note: Also available at FB: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/pages/Autism-Dad/160327080653310

Editor’s Note: Read “Sleep with me, Daddy!” https://autismdad1966.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/sleep-with-me-daddy/

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This entry was posted in March 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Autism Dad: “Sleep with me, Daddy” (Follow-Up Piece)

  1. Carla Altland says:

    When mine were babies, I would once in a while have them sleep with us [ My husband and I] and also the nap time, to get them to sleep some. But as a rule, my husband did not want them there and I respected him for this. To get that intimate time, I would read to them and we would share the bed in that way. Fully clothed and my husband would also read to them with them on the bed when they were even to middle school.

    Now that they are in their early twenties, I still talk and pray and share things with them in a relaxed way… and hug them frequently…. so I can see how the sense of touch and love goes both ways.

    Never worry how others think or judge you ,for you know in your heart how each son needs different things. One of mine needs more touching and hugs and the other one needs more sharing and talking with him… I was missing your blog…thanks for the updates… keep on keeping on in your own way with all the struggles you have raising them. Hope your dad is doing well. sincerely, carla

  2. leahsinger says:

    It’s funny you write this because I’ve been thinking about the same situation. When Sophie was a baby, she refused to sleep in our bed. I tried it, knowing it would be easier to have her in the bed than get up to feed her every time. But no, she wanted no part of it. Well about two months ago when she was sick and having bad “monster” dreams, she trotted into our bedroom in the middle of the night wanting to sleep with us. I let her, not thinking anything of it really. And ever since then, she comes in to sleep in the bed pretty often (not every night, but a lot). I hear the critics too; everyone saying don’t let this start. But I have to admit, I kind of enjoy it. She tells me she comes in because she feels safe with us. And I don’t really want to stop that. It may just be a phase. I’m okay with that. It does feel like a nice way to bond with her, especially since I don’t spend the time I’d like to with her every day during the week. So I saw, critics be damned! Do what feels right for you and your children. Because in the end, that’s all that matters.

  3. Missy says:

    I’m married. I have an autistic 6 year old son & a beautiful 5 year old daughter. They both start out the night sleeping with us and then get moved to a bed. Honestly I see no problem with it at all. I’ll let them decide when they want to sleep in their own bed the whole night. I could see it being weird if they were teenagers or something but not as children. 😉

  4. Antje says:

    I take my power for “standing my ground” (how you name it very nice) from thinking of all the cultures in our world that have no question about sleeping in different rooms. I just heard from a friend that it is very common in Japan. I also think my daughter will let me know if she doesn’t want to sleep with us anymore. Although my husbands started asking again, when she will leave…

  5. Pingback: You Like Me! You Really Like Me!! « That'sRightISaidIt.Dot.Mom

  6. Julie says:

    Your life sounds like mine, in a way. My 15 yr marriage ended in Feb & like you said, autism contributed but wasn’t the only issue. There were other problems between us, but the boys’ respective needs (both have autism) were something their dad never even tried to grasp. Now, since I have primary custody & I homeschool them, I cannot just go out and get a job so we are soon moving in with my 78 yr old mother. I worry about the adjustment, not just for my boys, but for all of us. We don’t have a choice, though, and I am grateful to have a home to go to since we are losing ours. Thank you for this post. I’m touched to hear a loving father’s perspective and thankful to know there are still some unselfish men in the world.

    • Autism Dad says:

      Hey Julie: So glad u liked the piece and that it was relevant for this new phase in your life. For me living with my dad has been a life-saver. And the time with him, and that he’s had with grandkids, has definitely been “the silver lining.” Thank you again for your kind comment and I wish you all the best.

  7. Full disclosure before I get into my answers: I am a 27-year-old Asperger who wasn’t diagnosed until long after my parents left the picture, myself a tender 15 years at the time. I have 3 natural-born children and a step-daughter (second-youngest), ages 9, 6, 3, and 6 months. The only boy is the baby, and so far none have been diagnosed with or shown any sign of autism.

    Do you sleep with your kids or have you in the past? – When my girls were babies, I would sleep with them from time to time but not at all often. Most of the time it was, and is, sheer exhaustion. Sometimes they will snuggle up with us on the couch, fall asleep, and get woken up being carried to their beds. My step-daughter will snuggle up with her grandmother every once in a while on their twice-monthly overnights, but otherwise none of the kids sleep anywhere but their beds. I have always made a concerted effort to help them fall asleep on their own, as difficult as that was with my second girl.

    When are children too old to sleep with their parents? – That’s very hard to determine since it really is case-by-case, but I would say puberty or as soon as they’re big enough to be mistaken for someone else in your sleep. A friend of mine was traumatized for life when he crawled into bed with his parents, and his parents thought their son was their partner.

    Should it make a difference if the child has autism? – Yes.

    Are single parents more likely to sleep with their kids? – Yes.

    Most autistics never expect their childhood to end. You will forever be the love of their life – there’s no dreams of a wife in that mind, just endless happy days playing with Daddy and going to school. Why should anything change? They just don’t get the concepts of time and change.

    So you are your son’s life partner. It makes sense that he would want to spend as much intimate time with you as possible, and it would be unfair to exclude Ryan just because he’s “fully capable”. Next to that, I would say so long as you enjoy it – then enjoy it! Why break away from something that is clearly a positive experience for all involved?

    But if you really want to take advantage of kid-free evenings, try snuggling on the couch and carrying them into bed once they have dozed off. Expect Ben to fight a bit at first, but that’s just his resistance to change talking. Once he understands that you’re doing this so you can snuggle AND get stuff done so you can spend more time with them the next day, that it’s safe, you’re not taking anything away – he’ll cool down and give it a shot.

  8. rachel says:

    first, i wish to thank you for blogging your inner-most thoughts and experiences. it is so refreshing to hear how a divorced dad can have such a nurturing attitude with his children, special needs or not! im a re-married woman of a 10 year old son with asperger’s, which he wasnt diagnosed until he was 4. when i was married to his father, we used the “shared family bed” approach for a few reasons. first, i had read much info about the pros and cons of sleeping withyour baby. and we decided we wanted the closeness of our family, like in many other cultures. second, i was breastfeeding, and it was so much easier to nurse him in his own bed than to have him wake up during the night crying until i was able to get to him in a different room. (im a sucker for a crying baby!) third, as kenny was born in august, by the time he out-grew his bassinet, it became cold in our two-bedroom house, and living on one income, we didnt have the nicest house, and the heat didnt work in our upstairs, so we had an electric heater in our bedroom, and we often stayed in our king-sized bed, playing peek-a-boo with our happy and beautiful son. we both do not regret this special bonding time we were able to share with each other. as kenny grew, and my husband’s job took us to a new town, we lived in a two-bedroom apartment. kenny had his own room, which i had decorated in “Blue’s Clues”. he enjoyed this room as his “playroom”, however, i was still nursing him (until he was 22 months!) and he still slept with us. later, as our marriage deteriated, not at all because of our son, we divorced. kenny continued to have his bedroom, but he still slept in bed with me. it was normal for us. it made him feel safe, especially after the divorce had changed his routine. it made me feel like i was his whole world, and we both slept better! when kenny was 9, i had to have back surgery to fuse my lower back. kenny was staying with his dad during most of the summers by this time. i knew it was getting to be the time where i needed to “wean” him from sleeping with me. it was tough. it was the hardest thing i had gone through with him! even though his bedroom was right next to mine, i had explained that now he is older and just turning 10, he needed to sleep in his own bed. i even told him the doctors said i needed to sleep alone after my surgery, as this was literally the only way kenny would believe me that he should try to sleep in his bed. we would have conversations across our apartment during the night, just so he would know i was there, even though he couldnt see me. now i am re-married. my new husband has been in kenny’s life many years now, and most of the time thiey get along well. at least even if they butt heads, kenny still requires my husband to be in his bedroom when we say prayers together. kenny needs this sense of order. that everything is okay and “normal” to him. thank God my husband gets this! but, there was a few nights in which kenny wanted to sleep with me when my husband was out of town, and to tell you the truth, i was just as glad as kenny! i have always noticed his breathing was more calm and his body was more rrelaxed when he slept with me. he slept better during the entire night, never waking up and staying awake for hours, like he often does in his own room. kenny’s soul is so sweet yet naive, still at his age of almost 11 and entering puberty. when i explain things to him, and discuss social puberty issues of what is proper, i say he can talk about his body with me, my husband, his father, and his doctor. kenny’s reply to me was “i will only talk to you about it mom”. i know he feels so close to me and trusts me because we have always had that special bond. i still love to hear him as if i can lay with him awhile until he falls asleep. as some children with asperger’s have trouble showing intimacy and affection (kenny wont let me kiss him on the head, or let his grandparents hug or kiss him either) kenny has always loved to snuggle in bed. maybe that is why it took us so long to make the transition, and why it hurt so badly when he was being “weaned” from my bed…it was the only time he was completely calm, happy for 8 hours at a stretch, and wanted me near him. i know there will be a time in the not-too-distant future where he wont want his mom anywhere near him, but for now, i savor the time i get with him each day.
    ~rachel

  9. Pingback: Autism Dad: The Case for Sleeping With Your Child | Autism Dad

  10. Our 10 year old sleeps with us and by us, I mean my wife. We are most paranoid about SEIZURES of which we have one every couple of weeks. So that’s our excuse at least.

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