This weekend we had a wonderful party – a celebration of all things fall (and German). There was only one ‘problem.’ It was Saturday night. It was 10 PM. I knew if he was awake any longer it would be bad news. But not just ‘normal’ bad news. Sleep for child on the spectrum is something that CANNOT be emphasized enough. When my daughter doesn’t get enough sleep she is grouchy for a day. My Tucker?
Bad news for a week.
Bad news at home.
Bad news at school.
Bad news at practice.
Bad news at Confirmation.
Bad news…well, everywhere.
So, I went inside and put him to bed. He was so ‘wired up’ that he couldn’t sleep. So, we reverted to when he was six. I rubbed his back. I talked gently. Finally, 45 minutes later he gave in.
By that time, all our guests had left.
I admit, I laid there an extra 15 minutes. Why? I love to watch Tucker sleep. When watching him, I imagine what it’s like. To live every moment, every day with a brain that doesn’t fire quite right. Often the tears roll down my face as I think about this amazing boy. It won’t ‘go away’ like a cold, or the flu. This is his reality…for the rest of his life. He has developed amazing coping skills, so much so that you wouldn’t ‘know’ there was anything unique….until a moment…one moment…often that moment is when he hasn’t had enough sleep.
Sleep is incredibly important. Enough sleep can make or break a day (or week). Consider this, if his brain ‘struggles’ on a regular day, imagine what lack of sleep can do. Think about yourself when you are tired – and for most of us, our brains make the connections they should make. Tucker still sleeps an average of 10 hours a night (yes…even in 7th grade). He is asleep by 8:30 on most nights and doesn’t wake until 6:30. He took regular naps until he was in 5th grade. In fact, he still takes naps on weekends. His brain simply needs the rest.
For Tucker, it’s all about the eyebrows. I began to notice at about age four that his eyebrows would get BRIGHT red when he was tired. So – before I go to the ‘he’s being naughty’ – I check out the eyebrows. Odds are, he’s simply tired…so I take a deep breath and know (as my ‘Aunt’ Betty always said), ‘this too shall pass.’
So, if we (I) leave early from your event, if I (we) don’t stay out late for event, if I (we) don’t come at all; please know that it is not about you. It is about helping him reach his potential every day. To do that…he needs his sleep. To get this sleep, he needs his nightly routine – and we are part of that routine. The routine has to be done in a certain order. Read, talk about tomorrow, lay down, reorganize blankets, fluff pillows, turn on heater blanket (he also can’t sleep in pajamas…they get all tangled up), cover, kiss, tuck in tight like a taco, kiss again, turn off light, say goodnight, say sleep well, say see you in the morning. If you do all of that – he’ll normally go to sleep in 2 minutes – but if you miss a step he’ll be upstairs to let you know in a matter of minutes.
Yes, this means we rarely had sitters. In fact, in Tucker’s life he probably had three. If they were busy, I wasn’t. It just wasn’t ever worth it.
The end of the alphabet…the end of the line. He has to get his zzzzz’s…