I've been asked on a few occasions to do a post on dreams and dreaming, so this is it. It's not an area I'm particularly familiar with because I've never really considered that dreaming may be different for aspies. I guess that any responses to this post will help us to find out.
Some time ago, I did an unstructured and impromptu survey to find out whether aspies tend to remember or forget their dreams. I got a total of 52 responses which were allocated as follows;
- I Don't think that I Dream 1% [ 1 ]
- I Usually Remember my Dreams 44% [ 23 ]
- I know I've had a Dream but lose the details when I wake up 28% [ 15 ]
- I Can Remember my Dream for about 2 hours after Waking - then it disappears 25% [ 13]
I've always had fairly vivid dreams and surprisingly, I've remembered quite a few of them. My childhood dreams are still clear as crystal, it's my adult dreams that I don't remember as well.
Night Terrors and Nightmares
As a child, I often woke up with nightmares. These were quite often about being trapped in a cave by falling rocks. I'm not quite sure why this would be the case since I'd never been caving and I can't recall watching any caving films. There were other things too, like falling from the top of buildings but mostly it was to do with imagining things in the darkness of my room. I wonder if I had some issues with reality verus fiction.
In any case, the night terrors and my theory that it's more to do with a poor sense of reality is one of the main reasons I've been so "unrestricted" on censorship with my own children. For the record, although every once in a while the youngest has a bad dream, they certainly don't have night terrors. They're very clear on what's real and what's not.
I eventually overcame the night terrors by;
- Adopting my mother's belief that bad dreams were your body's way of waking you for a toilet break.
- Getting myself a bed lamp which I could reach out and switch on whenever I got scared.
When I wasn't having night terrors, it was simply normal dreaming. The best dreams were "epic dreams. Epic dreams were dreams which were so large and so complex that it took several nights to get the entire dream completed. They weren't always on sensible subjects and I can clearly remember one about a witches gathering (not scary, quite friendly actually) which went on for about a week. I can remember being eager to go to bed so I could see the next part of the dream. I loved dreaming about flying on a broomstick with a coven of witches and I was really sad when the dream ended.
My normal dreams were always a bit weird and particularly in my childhood, they didn't focus so much on people as the mechnanics of things. I suspect that this might be one of the ways that aspergers manifests itself in dreaming.
One of the best dreams from my childhood was about going to visit my next door neighbour and discovering quite accidentally that if I made swimming motions with my hands and feet, I would actually be able to float in the air and control my direction. This particular dream was so vivid that I remember being anxious to rush outside and try it, just in case it really worked. (it didn't). It seems strange that so many of my dreams were about flying and falling.
My mother always used to call me a "daydreamer". She was probably right but I don't see it as a bad thing. I think that a lot of my creativity comes from daydreaming.
My daydreams are very vivid and often I snap out of them wondering which bits were real and which were false. Occasionally, my daydreams turn to day-nightmares and they can seriously "freak me out".
Arguably the worst daydream I'd ever had was one where I clearly saw a nuclear payload drop from a plane. The daydream was so vivid that I felt heat on my face and could clearly remember the arguments my parents had about what to do.
For weeks afterwards, I watched every plane that flew past with something like dread in case it was a premonition. Since then, circumstances have changed (my parents no longer own the house in the dream), so I guess I can presume that it wasn't.
There's not really a lot more I can say about my dreams. I've had quite a bit of deja vu but as usual, it's hard to "remember" what actually happens until it does actually happen. I don't see "deja vu" as premonition although I did when I was younger. These days, I believe it's just a feeling that comes from doing similar activities.
If there's anything about dreams which is particular to aspies, I haven't found it yet. Perhaps other people can highlight similarities and differences?