Several years ago Super 8 began an advertising campaign starring the voice of Tom Bodett. His famous phrase? “We’ll leave a light on for you.”
Tucker can’t sleep without a light on and I’m not referring to a low-light nightlight. I’m talking about a 90 watt bulb in a lamp. His room is as bright as a 6 AM June morning…and he sleeps like a baby.
Now – I recognize that many children are afraid of the dark. Tucker isn’t. He’s fine in the dark. Can he sit in a dark room? Yes. Can he walk around outside in the dark? Yes. Can he sleep in the dark? No.
I often leave his room shaking my head, wondering how he can sleep with the beacon beside him. Then I began researching ASD and ‘afraid of the dark.’ I know – it could just be a kid thing…but what if it’s not? That’s just one of the things about being a spectrum parent. It’s really difficult to navigate between what is just your child and what is spectrum-related. (Read Day #223 – Not EVERYTHING is about Autism)
I found quite a bit of information – and I thought that was quite interesting. I posed the question to a discussion board for adults with autism. Here are just a few of the responses:
- I am middle aged and still afraid of the dark. I have to put the hall light on, otherwise I feel as though I am very vulnerable.
- Quiet, dark rooms make me kind of restless and thoughtful.
- Yes, I am scared of the dark. About a year ago I couldn’t even sleep without light in my room, now I just need the light in the hall.
- I used to be really scared of the dark. I used to have terrible nightmares as well. I would never go into another room or go upstairs unless someone else did. It used to really freak me out.
- I am still a little bit afraid of the dark, but before my teenage years I was extremely afraid of the dark.
- I slept with a night light until I was 13. Even now as an adult I always sleep with the bathroom light on.
- I’m not wild about sleeping in the dark, though I could, but I prefer not to, for some reason. But, I am definitely not afraid of the dark.
- I was quite afraid of the dark until my teenage years
Then I remind myself, it really doesn’t matter. Like so many of his ‘things,’ they just don’t matter in the grand scheme of life. I often try to make sense of it though which is why I’m constantly trying to provide meaning to behavior. It’s often annoying to others – but it’s also one of the reasons that we have come so far. Why was he grouchy at 1 PM at school? He was hungry. Why was he struggling to sit still in class? He was uncomfortable in his chair.
One cloudy, rainy day I went to his room to check on him. I immediately turned the lights on because he was reading. I certainly didn’t expect a reaction – but I received one. He yelled, “Mom!! Turn the lights off – it’s too bright!”
What?!?!? Too bright for the boy who sleeps with a lamp on? Seriously.
Regardless, I turned the lights off…not a battle worth fighting.
As I walked away it occurred to me. His room is his safe spot. His room is consistently the same brightness. Consistent. It’s consistent. It’s always the same.
Same is safe.
Same is comfortable.
So, I took the cue from Tom Bodett. I always leave the light on for him.