"My body is not my own"

C sleeping with M C gets up every night, 2-4 am, stimming, and comes into our bed. My wife is often able to calm him, which usually takes an hour or so. I trundle off to the boys’ room to get what sleep is left to be had.

Monday night C was even more out of control than usual. I ended up taking him to the living room around 3 am because his whirling dervishness resulted in several accidental kicks to my wife’s head.

I laid next to him on the couch, swaddling him in a blanket to soothe his proprioceptive issues. Once swaddled, it was actually easy to talk with him, more so than usual; he was lucid and responsive.

At one point, I asked him what was going on, why he couldn’t calm down. He said — in his typically poetic if literal way — “My body is not my own.”

“My body is not my own.” I had to think on that.

Probing a little more, I was able to tease out of him that his brain is “tired,” but his arms and legs won’t let him sleep.

“You can’t control them?”

“They won’t stop moving.”

"Do you want to sleep?"

"Yes," said without hesitation.


C finally crashed at 5 am for 45 minutes, though I never did. But I did learn something: while it’s easy for me to be frustrated with him in these moments, he can’t help it. In fact, it’s not even his choice; he wants to sleep, desperately so it seems.

Will this give me more empathy the next time his middle-of-the-night stims are this extreme? I don’t know, but I hope so.