My little guy stayed up all night again last night. He’ll sleep eventually, either later today or tonight. One of the beauties of homeschooling is we can just work around these phases.
They do happen to kids who are traditionally-schooled, too. They just have to deal with it (sadly) and go to school in their increasingly zombified states. I imagine a fair number of times they have meltdowns at school. (Speaking of meltdowns, I’ll repost something on those soon. The brief version is they LOOK like tantrums, but unlike tantrums, they cannot be controlled by the Autistic.)
The last time we went through this no-sleeping or limited sleeping phase was a few weeks ago. In the middle of it, his neurologist’s office sent us an e-mail that I found bordering on offensive about trying to keep a routine to avoid sleep problems. You see, the experts believe that if we keep a routine going then somehow, magically, our Autistic kids will sleep. They think if we take away screens a million hours before bedtime, our kids will sleep better. This is true, perhaps, of neurotypicals, but the amount of screen time our son has each day (Microsoft sends me an e-mail each week with the total of our son’s computer time) doesn’t seem to correlate at all with his sleep. Take a moment and think over your own, adult life. Do you always have a predictable routine, or not? Doesn’t life happen? Do some of your insomnia nights connect to being on the computer all night, but others just…happen?
It’s worth noting that sometimes when our bodies are growing, we either sleep a lot more or a lot less. When my little guy was younger, he slept more. Now, it seems, he sleeps less. We also noticed, in speaking with my aunt who has a probably Autistic daughter around my child’s age, that the days she uses less executive function, she stays up later. The more choices she has to make, the more she sleeps. She used to sleep very early, like around 7 p.m. when she was traditionally-schooled, but since she’s been homeschooled, she’s calmer and gets a whole lot more schoolwork done…but some nights, she just can’t sleep.
So it can’t be JUST about routine.
Why should we keep our Autistic kids in a bubble of routine, exactly?