A Brown, Fuzzy Head on a Baby Monitor

Last night I tossed and turn through sleep stages. At one point, I was conscious enough to hear my son’s sound machine through the speakers of his baby monitor. But, the relaxing ocean waves lulled me awake rather than back to sleep.

As per ritual, I felt around on the nightstand for my glasses. Then I scanned the baby monitor. Finally, I make out a brown, fuzzy head peeking out from underneath a mound of white fluffy bedding and hordes of plushies. Relieved, I attempted sleep again.

My autistic son is seven. By the time his older siblings were his age, I’m sure the baby monitors were long gone. But because he’s autistic, I worry just a little more. I hang on just a little tighter.

And while he’s an amazing kid with abilities beyond my greatest expectations, autism also brings with it unique challenges. Some of those are not having a clear understanding of danger. As well as not being able to navigate the often blurry lines between fantasy and reality.

By day, he’s a ghost-hunting, ship-wreck-loving, Roblox-playing bundle of energy. He’s invincible. The sunshine provides me the visibility to quickly intervene if necessary. He’s safe.

But at night, when he’s in his bed and I’m in mine, I can’t reach out and rub his little head. I can’t caress his warm cheeks, or hear his belly laughs. So I rely on the monitor. It’s the new, tip-toeing-in-his room when he was an infant to be sure his little chest was rising up and down. If he’s too still, sometimes I’ll lie awake until I see him kick a leg out from under a blanket or readjust his pillow.

If I’m being honest, the monitor could probably go. He never wakes up in the middle of the night. And in the mornings if he wakes up before us, he either enjoys a quick game of Roblox in peace and quiet or he comes straight to our room.

I can trust him. I know that. But I don’t trust myself. For now, anytime I wake up I need to see that brown, fuzzy head so I can sleep. I mean we tracked a ghost to his room with the Ghost Detector app the other day. Little ghostie, please keep an eye on my son while he sleeps. Thank you!

Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.

Linda Wooten

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Amy Nielsen

Amy Nielsen is a former children's librarian of nearly twenty years. She now spends most of her time obsessively pounding on a keyboard. She is the author of It Takes a Village: How to Build a Support System for Your Exceptional Needs Family, Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her upcoming YA Worth it debuts in May of 2024. She is also a freelance writer for The Autism Helper. When she's not writing, she and her family are most likely crusing the waters of Tampa Bay.

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