Friday, 13 April 2012
A Guide for Parents and Professionals by Kenneth J Aitken
This is a weighty tome as well it should be considering the subject matter, which deserves every word.
Anyone who has any experience of sleep difficulties knows the detrimental effects that can wreck havoc in a household. Anecdotally, I know several families with one autistic child, or rather, only one child, who sleeps together with his parents in the same marital bed. When I say ‘sleep’ it would be more accurate to say ‘cat nap;’ each individual snatches intermittent minutes or hours, none necessarily at the same time. This observation of mine is born out by the statistics in Aitken’s book and should serve as reassurance for parents. We are not alone.
The spectrum of difficulties are explained in detail as well as a broad selection of possible solutions. Desperate parents are likely to claim, like me, that we’ve tried all that before, but it is useful to remember that what didn’t work when they were 3 or 5 or 10, might be worth another try now that they are teenagers. For instance, I plan to show my sons the highlighted section about ‘aerobic fitness,’ although I’ll hide the bit about ‘surgical removal,’ on the next paragraph.
I agree whole-heartedly with the first step of making a ‘sleep diary,’ only then will you be able to get a bird’s eye view of the true situation. When we started doing this many years ago, a pattern emerged: three or four months of blissful sleep, following by up to a week of being awake, then gradually tailing off until we were all thoroughly exhausted and a ‘normal’ sleep pattern re-established itself again. Over the last decade the periods of normal sleep lengthened, and the nocturnal times shortened, but without the diary [ies] I would have been none the wiser. Now, if I could just get them to be nocturnal at the same time, that would be a real breakthrough.
Overall, this book has a great layout, easy to follow with the data to back up the assertions and some delightful quotes to lighten the load e.g. ‘It is a bad plan that admits of no modification.’