My son sleeps sideways in his bed, with his long legs splayed like a frog so they don’t hang off the edge. He has two pillows, but neither go under his head; he has them both lying parallel to either side of his upper body. His bed is pulled away from the wall, because he otherwise rubs his head against it to the extent that he used to have two very noticeable balding patches from the nightly friction. Each night as he falls asleep I can hear him humming to himself as he rocks from side to side, occasionally bursting out in giggles. At least I know he goes to bed happy!
Bedtimes have always been interesting with our autistic son. We’ve fought through so many rituals and habits to get him to the point he is at now. He used to insist on having no sheets on even in the dead of winter, at the same time that he refused to wear socks. Once we got him wearing socks, he refused to go without, even in the height of summer! Same for the breakthrough with the bed sheets – once we finally got him to sleep under some decent blankets at winter, he continued to insist on them during the hot sticky nights of summer. We’ve got to the point now that it’s summer, and he goes to bed with no socks, and only one sheet and a blanket (solid yay).
There was a time that he enjoyed throwing everything out the window of his second-storey bedroom at night. Each morning we’d be fetching tissue boxes, blankets and toys from the lower veranda roof, or the car park space outside our home (depending on which window he chose). He even managed to get his pillows out the windows at times. This was a particular nuisance when it had rained over-night. The novelty eventually wore off, but it took a long time to get him to stop.
He used to be a miraculously good sleeper at night – a good twelve hours from about 6pm to 6am. Unfortunately he’s now in a solid routine of waking at least once a night, usually around 3am, at which point one of us walks him back to his bedroom and tucks him in. Sometimes he’s anxious during those night visits, but mostly he seems to just be performing a routine. This would bother me more than it currently does, if I wasn’t already up twice a night for my 13 month old; my sleep is already disturbed and I’ve gotten sort of used to it (severe daily sleep-deprivation feels like my natural state of being now).
We pick our battles; you can’t fight every issue at once. Every single day we are working on a variety of problems, prioritising ones that affect his health. We’re currently working on hair washes, drinking from cups, correcting his rolled-in ankles, toilet habits and skills, and at all times we try to help his communication skills, such as correcting his pronoun reversals.
We take one day at a time.
One night at a time.
We’ve come a long way, we’ve got a long way to go, but we’ll get there in the end.