I just read your post and I recognize this behaviour. My child had difficulty like this from a very early age (infancy). I won't go into much detail, my child was constantly sleep walking and behaving in a strange manner. I had spoken to many medical professionals over the seven to eight year period and eventually I realized that they thought that it was the mother who had the problem. One night when sleep walking I tried to console my child by saying that everything was alright because mum was with there and a deep husky adult voice responded "you are not my mother". I knew immediately that my suspicions were being confirmed. I won't go into the details as to how or were this began, through no fault of mine or my innocent child. I have strong faith and am a practicing Roman Catholic, I immediately got some holy water and I made the sign of the cross on my childs forehead three times as I held her and I said " In the name of Jesus Christ my Lord and my God begone satan" I repeated this three times and then I prayed as I put my child back into bed. That was the end of the behaviour. A number of years later I described the complete episode to a catholic priest who was also an exorcist, I discribed what I sensed in the appartment that I had lived in when my child was an infant and he confirmed for me that my suspicions appeared to be correct.
Read your bible were Jesus told his apostles what they could do in his name.
When I read your post, faithsstuff, it immediately reminded me of Elaine Gottschall's daughter. The girl had intestinal problems but she also had strange nighttime behavior. The first of her symptoms, the nightime sleeping behavior was healed within days of putting her on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Where as the psychotic like sleep behavior stopped very quickly her intestinal problems took longer. Elaine Gottschall is the lady who adapted and popularized the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and did the research to explain why and how it works. It is not a permanent diet but it is my impression that sometime the diet needs to be followed up to 18 mos. etc.. It has to do with eliminating certain kinds of carbohydrates. For example honey can be used as a sweetener but not sugar. If you borrow the book from the library you could read about the connection between the diet and the behavior.
My oldest had night terrors when he was around that same age. They are indeed very frightening to witness/experience. I had never heard of night terrors, but when I explained the situation to the pediatrician, he immediately told me my son was experiencing night terrors. The doctor told me it was quite likely due to inconsistancy in dealing with my son.... for example, whether or not something was ok depended on my mood at the time..so something that was fine one day, wasn't the next.. our doctor said that the little guy probably didn't know whether he was coming or going so to speak..and it was manifested in the night terrors..
I and hubby spent time doing a self evaluation and made a concerted effort to be aware and consistant. the night terrors were gone forever in a matter of a few days. You might do a little self evaluation too, and see if you are causing confusion in your little one with the outcome being night terrors. My son now is a very well adjusted, successful adult with a beautiful family of his own. I hope this is helpful for you.
thanks for all the tips and shared experiances, I appreciate it.
I have learned never to mention *exorcist* in any of my posts
A few folks brought up diet which is something I should explore. He has also never been a solid sleeper and is one of those kids that will be exhausted but is too stimulated to sleep. As an infant he had to have a light blanket over his face to block out anything around him. It's also happened more since he moved out of our bed and into his own room, we didn't force the move but I've been focusing on reconnecting with him everyday.
In his room he also has to sleep with the light on and often some music which may help block out other noises (we live in the city, it's noisy) but I'm sure the light on doesn't help his body have a solid day/night cycle. He is uber sensitive to texture, temperature, etc so I should also look at that.
Someone suggested reading Raising Your Spirited Child, which is a great suggestion, we actually have this book but haven't reviewed for a while, time to go back.
The book Sleepless in America: Is Your Child Misbehaving or Missing Sleep by the same author might be helpful. It's been a while since I read it but I remember nodding a lot. I'm pretty sure it has some good tips for helping a spirited/sensitive child get more sleep. There's a link in my previous post upthread.
I have dealt with similar issues with my now 10 y/o DC. There are some great articles out there -- look up "confusional arousal" rather than sleep terrors. Here is a good article by Dr. Green that describes sleep walking, night terrors and confusional arousal: http://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/sleep/issues/dr-alan-greene-on-night-terrors/ Here is a brief quote from the article:
What you will find is that MOST articles indicate that lack of adequate sleep is the primary cause of this type of sleep disturbance. Stress is often cited. For my child it seems that mild and infrequent incidents are caused by disrupted sleep/poor routine but really frequent incidents are caused by stress (by far the worst case was when I was pregnant).
As far as how to deal with them when they happen -- what worked best for DC is for us to just go along with her. We didn't wake her and we would just act like whatever she was saying or doing made perfect sense. This actually made it WAY more interesting for the us, as parents. DC was a big sleep talker and I love going along with her sleep-thoughts. One time she said she "wanted her real mama" so I replied, "Ok, I'll go get her..." Another recent one was "I got a bad monkey." so I replied, "Do you want me to take that one away and get you a good monkey?" DC said, "Yes," and went back to sleep. So cute!!
faithstuff - i dont know if you will find this reassuring or not but fearful at night enough to go sleep with parents is pretty normal at dd's school (mainstream public school). the kids do actually go sleep with their parents when they are in the fearful phase. they start out in their bed and then go visit the parents when they are afraid. i love that the parents allow this.
all these kids were either 9 or 10 years old.
In all seriousness, I feel for you and your DS and I hope some of the advice helps.
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DD Seraphina born at home on 2/21/2012!"Childbirth is more admirable than conquest, more amazing than self-defense, and as courageous as either one."
I know this is late but wanted to add that my son also had night terrors. I read somewhere on the internet that this can be related to overheating (among other things) and that cooling the child's sleeping environment down might help. It was effective for us, and I particularly noticed that I needed to make sure his feet were cool enough (sleeps with no socks on and feet sticking out of the covers).