Monday, December 21, 2009


Martin has gone to sleep in a laundry basket the last two nights. After long days of running around and getting dog tired by 7pm, he tells us he will go to sleep in the basket. I've been convinced that this will last all of 10 minutes. But he stays there the whole night, curled up like a hibernating squirrel in an oak tree.

Martin's new teacher, Ms. F, asked us if Martin likes to be in enclosed spaces, if he likes to cuddle up inside blankets and small corners. I hadn't thought about it before. I just figured that was a normal behavior and to some extent it is. Autistics, however, can experience an especially acute need to surround themselves in comfort. Since they struggle with the world's sensory overload, they seek out comforting spaces more often.

Ms. F's question was just one way she showed how perceptive she is about kids like Martin. Although she often said that she didn't know him yet, her questions and comments revealed that she knows what to look for and knows how to interpret his behaviors. I'm excited to send Martin off to spend part of his day with someone who has a real interest and capacity to understand him.

And it might be the case that I appreciate Ms. F's capacity because I have been so lacking lately. Although I've been working hard to get Martin in a class and so happy that it happened, I've actually really struggled in some of my interactions with him lately. We've both been a little cooped up, in the house most of the day now that the weather is cold. Maybe we're both a little stir-crazy and in need of some release. Whatever it is, we've been getting on each other's nerves. I've been cringing every time he gets really loud, attacks his sister, or insists on his 5th bowl of Raisin Bran. I'm sure he's annoyed that I'm glued to a computer, trying to get an article finished before my sabbatical ends. Whatever it is, we both need a little more space and I need a little more patience. Maybe our parallel departures to school in January will give us what we need.

Or maybe we both need to sleep in laundry baskets more often, finding the spaces that make us happy and comfortable. For Martin, that literally is the laundry basket. For me, it's more like a quiet office and a latte.


  1. My 2010 wish for you is a plethora of "quiet office & latte" days!

  2. most definitely - my son slept in a little pup tent for years & still enjoys dumping out his toy box so he can curl up inside ;0) have u tried weighted vests/blankets or a cuddle swing or hammock (the swings are very expesive)?

  3. Jen,

    I am so excited to hear how this new school/classroom goes for Martin. We don't have anything like this option in our school district. Is this in your town or did you have to change districts to find this place? Ethan loves having us squish him between two big body pillows--loves the pressure of it. Have you heard of Temple Grandin? She built herself a squeeze chamber of sorts to calm herself after long days of living in a typical world. She is also famous for coming up with the same type of device to calm cattle before butchering--kind of morbid, I know. She's written a few books about being autistic. It just made me think of her when you described Martin sleeping in the clothes hamper!