11.30pm, midnight, 1.30am, 2…….. “sweet dreams” have not been coming easily to Charlie for several weeks: He has often had difficulties going to sleep on and off, but this most recent bout of seasonal not-sleeping has been particularly persistent; a week-plus in California to visit my family, while thoroughly reinvigorating for all of us, only further upset Charlie’s biological clock.
Charlie often seems to be most active and alert—-full of pep—-in the evening after dinner, and even more so when he does not get any exercise (he does get a half-hour of P.E. everyday at school in the late morning, and I do think that this helps with his concentration and his doing well in school—mens sana in corpore sano, indeed. Hence yesterday’s long walk in lower Manhattan and today’s hour-long bike ride up the hills in our town (Jim has begun to teach Charlie to shift gears—that is to say, Jim has started to shift the gears of Charlie’s bike when Charlie stops at a certain spot on a certain hill; Charlie did bike up the rest of the hill with renewed vigor afterwards).
I have been reaccessing Charlie’s diet and been thinking that it might be better to have him eat oranges and chocolate and even white rice (though he has, finally, been eating less of this) earlier in the day: One can never know, but eating even one clementine seems to lead to Charlie getting jumpy and giggling and, well, hyper. I am not sure how many hours of sleep best suit Charlie, but, as might be expected after falling asleep so late, he has long had a hard time getting out of bed in time to meet the schoolbus. Even if he is awake, he is groggy and usually shuffles out with his head down, and us having to coax and even pull him along is not a great way to start the school day.
Or, indeed, any day: Charlie took himself to bed at 10pm yesterday and rolled and warbled and kicked on his bed for three hours. At midnight, just when he seemed to be getting quieter, his voice got louder and he started giggling; by 1am, when I went in to yet again straighten his blankets, his eyes were wide open and strained. All day today he was one moment nervous and worried and humming, if not almost groaning (as at the beginning of his piano lesson when he would not get off our bed), then, in an instant, grinning and walking to the piano (I did mention we would go for a ride in the black car afterwards). He sight-read “Mary Had a Little Lamb”; he lay on the couch and kicked; he sat in his rocker chair watching the Giants play the Eagles with Jim; he moaned and twisted his torso.
Charlie showered, said “I want. I want” several times before I figured out he wanted my old datebook to flip through, got his well-worn big green squishy ball and a small basketball (with an R for the Scarlet Knights), and went to lie on his bed. I pulled “daddy bue blanket” around him.
“Goo’ night,” said Charlie, peering at me, right elbow tucked under his head. “Goo-night.”
9.30pm, completely quiet house except for the sound of computer keys tapping.
Will Charlie wake up groggy and droopy-headed from the melatonin? Will it work tomorrow, or in a week, or will it lose its effectiveness and we have to try something else…….
So many things I need to know as an Autismland parent.
But tonight I think I’ll settle for Charlie getting one actual good night’s sleep—it is just one night in Autismland, but a little rest on this journey can go a long, long way.