Posted in Parenting, Self-Care

Bad Advice: Autistics and Sleep

My little guy stayed up all night again last night.  He’ll sleep eventually, either later today or tonight.  One of the beauties of homeschooling is we can just work around these phases.

They do happen to kids who are traditionally-schooled, too.  They just have to deal with it (sadly) and go to school in their increasingly zombified states.  I imagine a fair number of times they have meltdowns at school.  (Speaking of meltdowns, I’ll repost something on those soon.  The brief version is they LOOK like tantrums, but unlike tantrums, they cannot be controlled by the Autistic.)

[Image: A British Shorthair with Siamese-like Markings (Black ears, paws, parts of the face, with whiter upper arms and head) sleeps on a sofa. This is a close-up of the cat’s face and front paws as he snuggles against the cream fabric that has orange and yellow capped-mushrooms on it;] image from Pixabay

The last time we went through this no-sleeping or limited sleeping phase was a few weeks ago.  In the middle of it, his neurologist’s office sent us an e-mail that I found bordering on offensive about trying to keep a routine to avoid sleep problems.  You see, the experts believe that if we keep a routine going then somehow, magically, our Autistic kids will sleep.  They think if we take away screens a million hours before bedtime, our kids will sleep better.  This is true, perhaps, of neurotypicals, but the amount of screen time our son has each day (Microsoft sends me an e-mail each week with the total of our son’s computer time) doesn’t seem to correlate at all with his sleep.  Take a moment and think over your own, adult life.  Do you always have a predictable routine, or not?  Doesn’t life happen?  Do some of your insomnia nights connect to being on the computer all night, but others just…happen?

It’s worth noting that sometimes when our bodies are growing, we either sleep a lot more or a lot less.  When my little guy was younger, he slept more.  Now, it seems, he sleeps less.  We also noticed, in speaking with my aunt who has a probably Autistic daughter around my child’s age, that the days she uses less executive function, she stays up later.  The more choices she has to make, the more she sleeps.  She used to sleep very early, like around 7 p.m. when she was traditionally-schooled, but since she’s been homeschooled, she’s calmer and gets a whole lot more schoolwork done…but some nights, she just can’t sleep.

So it can’t be JUST about routine.

Why should we keep our Autistic kids in a bubble of routine, exactly?

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Posted in Catholic education, Self-Care, Teaching

Neurodiversopia: A School Where We Can Be Ourselves

When you’re in the middle of just running your school and living your life (and often fighting for the opportunity for your school to stay open), you forget sometimes to appreciate what you have.

I administrate and sometimes teach in a tiny Catholic school and my kids are in, currently, a one-room schoolhouse configuration, from Kindergarten through 8th grade.  There aren’t many of them, and they learn together and separately, on their own work, at their own paces.

At times, when people come to my school, such as the guy who comes to read the gas meter, he asks whether school is open.  Oh, it’s open.  They’re just upstairs and not that loud.

The thing of it is, it’s not that quiet ever.  My kids love to run and jump and play like everyone else.  My girls shriek, and I have a student who struggles with modulating her voice.  They can be very loud.

But it’s not really all that loud as compared to a school with mostly neurotypicals.  As it happens, I maybe have one or two neurotypical students, I think, and that’s not because I chose to have them; those are the kids who stayed after I became principal.  And the kid I think is neurotypical is a sibling of one or more Neurodivergent siblings, so he is growing aware of how to live Neurodivergently.

Anyway, we went to a very, very large Mass this past week, and it involved people from all over.  It’s helpful for young Catholics to see they are not alone in a highly secular world, so on a theoretical level, I was glad to go.

In practice, it was very overwhelming.  Here’s what happened, and what we learned from it.

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