Growing, Not Dying

Welcome to my insights, ponderings, and experiences. Hopefully they will enrich you in some small way, or at least make you laugh.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Alternative Methods for Dealing with Aspberger's - Polyphasic Sleep

Let me start with the disclaimer: My son has not officially been diagnoised with Asperger's Syndrome. At this point it is simply the opinion of the various people of his school, the local AS supposrt group co-ordinator, and a dear friend of the family who specializes in children with special needs. However, we have yet to take him in to make it official.

And the "fine print:" I am not a doctor. This is in no way medical advise. This is simply my experience. Feel free to consult whom ever you feel is competant in assisting you.

There. That said let me begin. My son is 8. He has displayed many symptoms of Asperger's in a mild to moderate range throughout his young life. It was really becoming more of a problem at school. When the school physchologist told us his belief that our son was "a good candidate for Asperger's," it really wasn't too much of a suprise. We had actually examined this posibility some years ago. We were given some contacts, told "the right doctor" and such. We were also informed it could take up to a year to get an actual diagnosis.

First off, I am not sure I want him diagnoised. Secondly, a year?!? And what do we do in the mean time? SO I set out to see what I could find to help him in the mean time. We began with diet changes to help encourage more positive behavior, with limited success. He enjoys yoga and meditation, but we couldn't seem to build a routine or hold his interest for more than a few minutes.

In an unrelated search I ran across information on polyphasic sleep, the practice of breaking up your sleep as apossed to monophasic sleep, one long chunk at night. Reading about it I found myself intrigued, at first just with the idea of having more time. Then I started learning some of the other benfits of variations. There is a lot of types of polyphasic sleep, the most famous being Uberman's. It is pretty inflexible and also pretty impractical. On other sytems, it fits in a more traditional lifestyle.

I read many that included an awake time during the middle of the night. The reasoning was that this awake time during the night washed the brain in a series of chemicals that were calming and promoted relaxation and happiness, (as long as you engaged in the "right activities"- no tv, computers, ect.) with effects lasting up to 24 hours. The problem was I could only find research on adults, nothing on children. This left me with a quandry. We decided to try it out. We had a 2 week spring break coming up at school. Since it takes about 14 days to readjust a sleep schedule I decided to try it then as an experiment. My son was excited. He loves anything that is an experiment. He loves anything that gives him special treatment. This was both.

The schedule that I settled on goes as follows: down for bed at a regular bedtime (8 for him, 10 for me,) wake up around 1 am (12:30-1:30 a.m.) varying naturally, up for 15 minutes to an hour, then back to bed until morning, about 7 a.m., afternoon nap about 3 p.m. for 15-30 minutes.

It has been 3 weeks now. At home he is much more polite, helpful and listens. His natural desire to be kind comes out a lot more. We still have issues, but they are already smaller and his temper has really curbed. At school his teacher commented he is "roaming the room" less and has even allowed him to return his desk to sitting with the other children "as long as his good behavior continues." It has been a real blessing. He realizes the benefits of it and is generally really good about sticking to his schedule.

We have found some downs to it. Missing a nap is NOT good. It is almost a garuntee you will have a "meltdown" or there will be a fight. Before these things were random. Therefore, naptime can pose a scheduling problem sometimes. Also, my husband and I have a trip coming up. It has now come to my attention I am now asking someone else to adhere to this schedule.

Overall, the change in behavior has been worth it.

It has been beneficial for me as well. I find when I am sticking with the schedule I am much calmer too. I feel less inclined to be angry. I am more upbeat, get more done and am generally just more satified with life.

For now we are sticking with it.

[update: here]
Additional Update here


Anonymous Amy said...

The school psychologist tentatively thought that Morgan had Asperger's in Kindergarten. We took her to an expert at the University and he said it wasn't, but rather ADHD. I'd never even heard of Asperger's before that.

I was like you, I wasn't sure that I even WANTED a diagnosis. The idea of it was really hard for me. But then I remembered that Morgan was still Morgan. Nothing had changed at all. She was still my precious, cute, little individual.

I wonder if there was something in Boise's water that year?

Thanks for sharing the Polyphasic Sleep concept. I'd never heard of it before. Alternative treatment methods are important. We have to do a lot with making sure Morgan's routine at school isn't interrupted and giving her plenty of notice for any changes. Substitutes don't go over well. But the older she gets the better it seems to get. Though we do have a couple of rough patches here and there. "Drama queen" doesn't quite cut it some days as a description. ;-)

Mon Apr 10, 01:55:00 AM MDT  

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