When Bedtime Brings Clarity for My Son on the Autism Spectrum and Me

The tension in his little body is visible. I know it is going to be a difficult day. When auditory processing is not easy, it is difficult for him to follow direction. If motor planning is harder today, he might be aggressive, moving his body in frustration.

Today might be a struggle for him.

To help him through this day, I will need to be vigilant with his sensory diet. We will do his brushing and lotion routine when he gets dressed. I will be sure he gets his feedings and medicine right on time. He will do his spinning and his jumping. I will need to provide plenty of opportunities for hard work.

If today is a struggle for him, there will be constant bickering between he and I. He will be sassy and demanding. He will fight every little thing that we need to do, even if it is something that he ultimately wants to do. I will constantly be separating him from his sister. I probably will need to hold him down to get each tube feeding started, while he attempts to kick and punch me. He gave up naps when he was 18 months old, so there will be no break today. I cannot leave him for a moment because I don’t know what will happen, so there will be no cooking meals, solo bathroom breaks or a shower.

Today might be a struggle for me.

We will both meet the end of the day with exhaustion. He will fight bedtime at first, but the routine of bath time, brushing, lotion and lights-out will calm him. When the lights go out, we will say his prayers together. I will ask him to tell God what he is thankful for. He may or may not be able to verbalize an answer, so I will help him. He will drive a little car up my arm and tell me he loves that arm. He will put one hand on each side of my face and pull me in for a kiss. After his kiss, he will tell me he loves me. When he asks me what we should do next, I will tell him that we should go to sleep. He will reply, “OK, Mommy,” and cuddle his face close to mine as he closes his eyes and drifts off to dreamland. As I listen to his breaths become deep, I will thank God for those sweet moments with my darling boy.

It is in those moments that the stress of our day melts away. If it weren’t for those moments, our day would end with tension and exhaustion. Instead, we are only left with love as we rest up to start anew.

Tonight we revel in the clarity of bedtime.

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