Wednesday, February 24, 2010

say what?

The sleeping arrangements have only gotten stranger. The laundry basket is back in its proper place: beside the dryer in the basement. And for a few weeks, Martin slept in his bed like a normal human being in the Western hemisphere. But now, in a moment inspired by Gandhi or some other spiritual purveyor of physical discomfort, Martin is sleeping on the floor.

This floor routine has been going on for a little while. Tonight, it got even weirder. Martin rolled up a little blanket, shoved it into an empty Tinker Toy container, and laid down on the floor. Then he pulled the blanket out, looked up at me, and said, "I want to sleep in this can." The Tinker Toy can is about 14 inches high and 6 inches in diameter. Even Gandhi wouldn't fit in that can. So Martin decided he would sleep with his feet tucked into the can. I can only hope there's no need to escape the house in the dead of night because the poor child would have to hop out rather than run.

I think I've finally given up trying to push Martin to do certain things. I don't make him eat more than plain bread and applesauce at church dinners, even though it's a place where a robust appetite is considered a theological virtue. I don't make him dress in ways that are weather-appropriate and somehow he has avoided both heatstroke and frostbite. Giving up normality has not yet brought me peace of mind, but it has made both me and Martin a little happier.


  1. Jen,
    Tonight I was talking to a teacher's aide at a local school in my area. She said she there is an autistic child in her daughter's elementary school classroom that takes a nap every day during a portion of the school day and uses a 'weighted blanket.' Then there was some mention about 'weighted vests.' I'd never heard of this. Does that sound familiar to you? I wondered why that might be used and if the desire to feel weighed down or secure might be akin to Martin's desire to be in a small space. I hope this isn't a completely ignorant comment!

  2. Hi Heidi,

    Stacy (Rainmom's husband) here. Yes, we have heard about it. Generally it falls into the a category of autism therapies known as "sensory diet." The idea is that part of the challenge for autistics is that they require a different set of sensory stimulations (diets) than neurotypicals to stay comfortable (nourished). The tricky thing is that different autistics appreciate different sensory diets, so one autistic person might get their daily sensory bread by banging a flyswatter on an oatmeal can for 20 minutes or so while another might like to look at the flow of water out of a faucet for an hour or so.

    The weighted blanket therapy is similar to these, and it is one that Martin has appreciated. He loves to be squeezed. I've experimented a bit with different durations and intensities of squeezes and found that Martin likes to be squeezed far harder and longer than I would have expected, even knowing about this phenomenon among autistics. Jen actually commented on this in a previous post about him sleeping in a laundry basket (

    Thanks for your comment. It's not ignorant, nor would it be unwelcome even if it revealed a lack of knowledge of autistm. What we appreciate is the interest and support that friends like you show when you make comments and ask questions on this blog.