When Time Stands Still for My Son on the Autism Spectrum and Me

It’s bedtime — a glow-stick-cuddling kind of sleepy time tonight. Like many parents, I look forward to this time of evening. A busy day comes to an end, and bedtime finally comes around. It’s a fond part of our day. It’s calm, it’s routine and we’re in no hurry.

Bedtime stories and cuddles galore, drinks, toilet trips… just one cuddle more.

They as reasons alone do not define why I love bedtime so much. It’s the time of day you are your most chatty, Sonny. Some days I’ll admit, I would appreciate you being a little less chatty and a little more sleepy. Especially those nights after the one before where you go to bed at 7 p.m. but you’re wide awake at 10 p.m. and refusing to go back to sleep unless you have me by your side.

There are some times I’m so exhausted I fall asleep lying beside you. I wake, often hours later, and take the sleepy stumble back to my own bed. The pillow is cold, and it feels good to rest my head somewhere comfortable. I breathe a sigh of relief as I close my eyes.

It’s late in the evening, the world appears to slow on its axis, and it’s simply you and me. Riley sleeps silently above. He’s always been quick to fall asleep. Riley wiggles and makes silly noises, he’ll tap his fingers on the head of his bed, much to your annoyance. Just moments after his head hitting the pillow, he is out for the count.

This evening, cuddling your glow stick, you told me all you did today. You told me you helped make gingerbread biscuits with Mrs. H today. They were stars and they tasted like sweets. You said they were delicious.

I asked you if you’d saved me a bite, to which you said nothing. Your eyes have always told me everything I need to know. I ask where the biscuits are now. “In my tummy. They tasted like sweets.”

It was over three and a half years before I heard you speak to me. When you have something to say, I listen intently. I watch your eyes as they sparkle. I hang on to the words as they escape your lips. Your sweet little voice, it echoes deep in my heart.

These moments together are precious.

This time right now is ours.

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