My girlfriend, whom I adore and love dearly, has a major dilemma with her 14 year old autistic son from her previous marriage. He has constant nightmares and is afraid to sleep alone, so he ends up sleeping next to her in her bedroom at night. Now I personally find it socially awkward and disturbing for a child of his age to be sleeping in the same bed with his mother, regardless of his autism. It also creates a serious problem for me and her in terms of our sex life because I can't even spend the night with her in her bedroom because her kid sleeps next to her. I have criticized her for coddling and enabling this behavior and have asked her to find a way to stop it, but she's adamant about defending her son, which I can understand and sympathize with, but she is actually damaging him psychologically by "babying" him and his fears instead of showing him a bit of tough love and breaking him out of this cycle of dependancy. I just find it very disturbing for a kid that age to want to sleep in the same bed with his mom, regardless of his medical condition. I don't know what to do here because I love my girlfriend, but she is his mother and will side with his needs, even though I disagree with how she is pampering him like an infant. If I am to have her and her son move in to live with me, I will absolutely NOT allow a child of his age to share a bedroom in which adults sleep because it is not appropriate. What do I do..I am confused?
Only you and your friend can decide how to proceed. If the continuation of your relationship with your friend is contingent on the arrangement with the youngster changing, that reality may compel your friend to handle the sleeping arrangement differently. Children with autistic conditions pose very challenging issues for parents, as you are seeing.
Hi Rabbit, sorry to hear that things are not going so well. Autism can be very difficult to deal with as a parent and probably more so as a person trying to come into a relationship. My recommendation is to read up on the subject as a whole, either through your local library utilizing books that are not child rearing specific but autism specific or looking up information that pertains to autism. Autism is a form of special needs, whether high functioning or non, and tends to follow a different set of rules. So while a night light might work for Johnny Normal, there is probably underlying seperation anxiety and a whole host of other things going on that "tough love" may make more severe in the extreme. Who knows in all your reasearch you might just end up being the hero, because I'm sure that she would enjoy some of that alone time as well!
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