Maybe Sleep Won’t Be an Issue

Charlie on an evening bike ride in late April MMX  So Thursday night Charlie slept from around 9/9.30pm to 7.30am without waking up. 

Yes, it was a peaceful night in our household. 

Friday morning, Charlie was slow to get out of bed so I set the iPod touch timer, placed it beside him, and went about my morning business: making, and of course drinking, coffee; cleaning a little in the kitchen; reading over a website I planned to show my students. I didn't hear the timer go off but I did hear feet on the stairs. Charlie was fully dressed, asked to put on his socks, went out to get in the car.

He's been getting himself dressed for the past two-plus school years. I usually leave out his clothes, varying the location. He either finds them on his own or asks me, and I get a little chance to see how his receptive language and ability to follow directions is faring. Sometimes he chooses his own shirt and pants though he tends to choose the same colors of items, or even the same exact few shirts and pants, over and over. I know it's not the biggest of deals and that some people like to wear variations on the same few items of clothing every day, but helping Charlie see that, even in small ways, he doesn't have to do everything the same way all the time, is an important little lesson to practice daily. 

(He does, though, have a preference for wearing blue, green, and black, with an occasional orange t-shirt thrown in for good measure.)

In fact, aside from the waking up and getting out of bed business, Charlie pretty much gets himself ready for school. Granted, he doesn't have to worry about combing his hair (the efficiency of a buzz cut) or getting himself breakfast; Charlie never seems to be hungry when he first wakes up these days (though ready for a mid-morning snack around 10am). Now that I think of it, once he's actually out of bed, he pretty much takes care of himself, a small huge deal.

Having left at a reasonable time, Charlie and I drove up to the Big Autism Center just as a few more yellow buses were pulling in, and an aide appeared to take him inside before 8.45am. This left me particularly pleased as it's been awhile that I was able to get to my first class on Tuesday/Friday (those being the days when I drive Charlie to school) with enough time to sit down for a few minutes and review my notes.

The rest of Friday unrolled in a very peaceful way. As we neared home, Charlie said "I want, I want" and then the name of the local grocery store we're still taking a hiatus from. I made inconsequential vocal responses and we ended up back home. He got right out of the car and was in the house soon as I opened the door, and helped himself to soy ice cream and crackers and requested the computer. He went up to his room for a spell and then came down, and led me on a walk. He wanted a long one, and we got back just in time to meet Jim come home off the train, ready for a bike ride. 

As on Thursday, I gave Charlie some melatonin around 8pm, over an hour earlier than I had been giving it to him. He told us "bedtime" just around 9.30pm and he meant it—it wasn't a half hour later that I went in to check on a slumbering boy.

Not sure if this is the start of a more routine sleep pattern or a pleasant blip in the midst of the annals of the sleep-deprived. We'll see about Saturday. Third time's the charm, right?

12 Responses to “Maybe Sleep Won’t Be an Issue”
  1. emma says:

    I’m smiling to myself, a year and a half ago I mentioned Dimitri’s sleep problems to his teachers, a plan was suggested, and then as it turned out he started sleeping better anyway (the next day). Seems to go like that sometimes.
    Did you do anything specific to help Charlie get into a routine of dressing in the mornings? Maybe you have written something previously?
    Dimitri always chuckles when I offer him the melatonin and pops it into his mouth happily. I think it helps calm down his hypermotoric body and he is happy to do so. Doesn’t necessarily help him sleep through the night though.
    Hoping it’s more than a pleasant blip, although even a pleasant blip is welcome sometimes!

  2. mamacate says:

    Wonderful! Those dark-hour wakeups you were doing would take a toll on anyone, even superhero parents like you. I sent that article you linked to my dad, who has always had an “off” clock, as does everyone on his side of the family. Here’s hoping for continued good sleep for all!

  3. autismvox says:

    Well……Charlie woke at 3am today.
    After being up for about an hour, he went back to bed. (I had told him, no walks until 5am and Charlie, who was just about to put on his socks, did not do so.) He didn’t fall asleep after going back to bed but stayed in his room till 6am. At which point, a walk seemed quite, or more, reasonable.
    Regarding getting Charlie dressed, Emma—we used to have a picture schedule for his morning routine, though it didn’t get much use (in part because, we had so much trouble getting Charlie to wake up). I’ve been putting out his clothes the night before for awhile, mostly so I have one less thing to do when running around in the morning. Somehow it evolved into him getting the clothes himself and putting them on—I think he started doing this when he first started to go to a new program back in 2005, when we were living with my in-laws.
    I’m going to give it some thought—certainly makes the mornings a little easier (for this mother, at least).

  4. Emma- we’ve been through a fair amount of stuff regarding clothing…we’ve had full years where one child would only wear one outfit (literally), and would stand by the dryer and scream until it stopped and that outfit was wearable again. Now, at 15, everyone’s dressing themselves pretty appropriately every day, and that’s been a huge help to me.
    We used a lot of pic symbols as well as social stories as the kids got older, and that seems to have worked. We started out with schedule strips (literally put one leg in your underwear, then the other, then pull them up, then pick up your
    pants )and went from there. One child likes to lay their clothes out the night before, and the other two make choices when they get up in the mornings. I’m not too fussy about what they wear…we’ve got lots of sensory issues as well as some gross motor issues, so fabric and colour are very important, as is the respective tightness or looseness of their clothing as well as fasteners.
    I try to buy things that easily coordinate, but I don’t lose my mind if someone walks out of the house in non-matching clothing. I was Punk when I was their age, and likely caused my parents considerably more agitation than I feel šŸ™‚
    We just did it step by step, and it seems to have worked, finally. It did take a while, but it’s been worth it. Not only is it a lot easier for me, but as teenagers, they certainly have the right to decide how they want to dress.
    And too typical about the sleep problems…I think that I’ve found that more often than not, I contact a specialist or teacher about something, and by the time they reply it’s already a non-issue.
    I hope that your weekend is peaceful, Kristina!

  5. autismvox says:

    Ah yes, one more thing about clothing—Charlie’s wardrobe is very simple, shirts (short-sleeved mostly—he often keeps his jacket on inside in the colder months), pants (long or short), socks, underwear. I’ve kind of given up on anything but t-shirts and loose-fitting pants with elastic—easy to find both now even for a kid Charlie’s size.
    I used to think he had to wear different shirts, ones with buttons, jeans, pants with zippers and snaps but then realized — for the sensory reasons Jeanette points out and to help Charlie be more independent — that none of those were worth it. Charlie rarely, rarely, needs go go anywhere too formal and pants that just mean pulling up mean that he can handle the bathroom routine all on his own, with no annoying mom reminders.
    As it is, whenever we visit in California, my male relatives wear (with the exception of jeans) pretty much what I’ve just described Charlie does!

  6. a parent says:

    We’re working toward a get yourself together morning on weekdays. Already there on weekends. The problem is, with two teenage older sisters and one bathroom, there’s no time for dawdelling when everybody needs to make it out the door by 7:20.
    Pants without fasteners are required by my son. Before he couldn’t do the snaps and buttons. Now I think he could, but he doesn’t see the reason or need, so he won’t. Even with elestic, those pants built in snapping belts are not acceptable. I’d like to be able to get him more long pants that aren’t sweats. It seems harder now that his a size 12. Any hints?
    Another issue is shoes. Velcro and zippers are ok. Laces or slip ons that have tight elastic (like Charlie’s) are not. L.L.Bean used to have a velcro version, but no longer. Lands End used to have a zipper version, but no longer. Crocs work all summer, but not for school, where they are to tempting to take off. Any suggestions?

  7. Jennifer says:

    a parent — my brother, who is 23 and has Down syndrome, has never had the dexterity (those typical thick stubby DS fingers don’t help) to tie shoes. He started wearing sandals *all* the time once leaving school, but on a recent trip to a New Balance store for me, he found several pairs of velcro shoes.
    If you have outlets (NB, Nike, etc.) in your area, they might have the (potentially less popular?) velcro shoes. Worth a try at least.

  8. Linda Sullivan says:

    Mothers make sure their sons dress to fit in and today individual style rules. Charlie always looks tall, dark, and handsome!

  9. Regina says:

    I just did a search of “velcro running shoes” and a slew came up – NB, Brooks – even Prada, yes that Prada, had a velcro shoe. So Foot Locker or a Big 5 may have some options (Zappos has any shoe you want, but generally kind of $), although I can relate – for years shoes were mostly slip on for years more velcro, and then this Fall, my daughter decided that SHE WANTED to learn how to tie lace tie shoes. So we taught it although it took some time and we put away all the velcros until it was mastered. But I was kind of sweating what our options were just in case.
    Funny about dressing – just the other day I observed that my daughter was very careful about choosing what she put together, and that she now does a better job than her sister does or even me if I’m in a hurry. Although we did sometimes send her back to change if the choice was too eccentric, I don’t think we ever did a program around that. Dressing independently started with how to manage each individual garment and then laying them out in a sequence, and then taking them out of the dresser in a sequence…she still uses that undergarment->shirt->pants->socks sequence although the choice of each item varies. (But as of yet, no blouses – we’re just now practicing overcoats with buttons).
    I can relate to the pants issue – we do sweats and young ladies can get by on yoga pants but she’s been looking at jeans. The zipper, okay, but those buttons are HARD.

  10. Regina says:

    Nice that Charlie went back to bed.
    I agree – 6AM is a much more civilized hour for a walk.
    While we spent some years helping our daughter get ready, I concur that it’s nice when that independent ability arrives.
    Take care.

  11. autismvox says:

    LL Bean has boys’ pants to size 16. Patagonia is a pricey brand but they have some mens’ pants and shorts with elastic waists.
    Like I said, pricey! I need to start looking for other outdoors-y brands that do too—maybe REI? I also like those sorts of brands because their clothes are tough and wash ‘n’ wear, and we just get a couple pairs of one style in different colors for Charlie.
    We used to have Charlie in velcro shoes then switched to shoes with laces.
    Then had a period when Charlie thought it was really funny to take off his shoes all the time, resulting in us being told to get him hiking boots and making it near-impossible for him to take off the shoes—but needless to say, they weren’t comfortable. I can’t remember when exactly we started Charlie on the black Merrell slip-ons; I’m pretty sure it was after my husband started to wear them. (He’s not one for shoe strings either.)
    @Regina, the clothing issue makes me glad to have a boy–it’s all t-shirts and pants, t-shirts and shorts. Jim and Charlie both wear the same size socks for the moment.
    And jeans are stiff, besides those buttons being hard! Charlie used to just give up and either try to pull his still-buttoned pants down, or not bother with the button resulting in too much prompting etc.

  12. autismvox says:

    The morning rush is another reason I’m looking forward to teaching most of my classes on Tuesday and Friday next year. I’ll have to actually leave the house before Charlie is up (well, before he goes to school, if he gets up at 5am or before). Already so many things to remember when I’m getting myself ready for work!

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