For the past two weeks, Charlie's been taking a late afternoon (5pm-ish) nap, after coming home from school, snacking, using the computer. We've been usually waking him (or trying to) after about an hour using 'natural noise' (turning on the radio, opening a window) and his iPod Touch timer. Even without these, Charlie generally only wakes up after an hour and a half, maybe two.
In the past, naps were anathema around here, as Charlie napping inevitably portended a Very Late Bedtime, usually around midnight.
And I have to tell you that this generally remains the case, even with a little Melatonin given to Charlie around 9.30 or 10pm.
The difference is, Jim and I have taken a 'growing boy needs his sleep' / 'if that's what Charlie's body clock needs, so be it' sort of response: Yes, we've been taking the 'letting go and letting be' approach and while it hasn't resulted in earlier bedtimes or falling asleep—Charlie is no robot, he can't be forced to sleep when he's not ready!—we've all just been co-existing together quite well. I'd say that not sending the non-verbal message of 'sleep now or else!' has definitely helped.
We do communicate, 'You can stay up, no problem. But there is school tomorrow.' Even with a late bedtime, Charlie has still be able to rouse himself out of bed before 8am on schooldays. Today is his last day of 'regular' school; he has just over a week off till ESY starts next Wednesday. In the past, we've tried to keep him on his regular sleep and waking schedule but this time I feel, come what may!. Charlie is a teenager now and he has two parents who don't themselves need a lot of sleep, so why should he, necessarily?
Saturday, after a doze in the car en route to the beach and a late afternoon—rather early evening—nap, Charlie didn't got to bed till almost 12.30am. Nonetheless, he was awake at 7.30am and went through the morning—a walk, a little shopping outing—with only a few yawns. Jim and I were busying ourselves around the house in preparation for my parents visiting. I made up a bed for my parents and went to change Charlie's sheets too. I opened a dresser drawer and pulled out a light blue sheet to put on his bed when Charlie came in and told me 'blue sheet, blue sheet.' I looked again and there was a darker blue one, the same color as the one I'd just taken off.
Also rather the same color as the ocean, to my eye.
I put the sheet on the bed and told Charlie 'you help pull'; 'pull,' said Charlie and together we made up his bed after which he jumped onto it with a most pleased grin and was out for two good hours.
If you ask me, this was very wise, as it was 93 degrees Sunday and being inside a nice air-conditioned-cooled house was in order. Especially as, Charlie, on waking, was ready for a bike ride; good thing I'd bought another gallon of lemonade.
Jim picked up my parents from the airport around 10pm. Charlie had already gone to bed, but he came down the stairs when they came in (the better to check out their luggage for Chinese food treats). He was of course excited to see them and we figured, just as well he was up. All the bedrooms in our house are on the second floor and Charlie, having become a very sensitive sleeper, would most likely have woken up when my mom and dad came in.
I wouldn't have been thrilled with Charlie keeping these kinds of sleeping/waking hours when he was younger, as he needed to be constantly, constantly watched then. That's been one of the revelations of our growing-up boy: He not only doesn't need to be watched and followed around all the time while at home, he definitely wants us out of his hair at times. (Outside the house is, of course, a completely different matter.)
Kids on the autism spectrum and, yes, kids with as many communication and behavioral and all that challenges as Charlie, do grow up and sometimes life even gets a little easier.
Trust me, I can't believe I just typed that.