Monday, March 12, 2012

Autism hates Daylight Savings Time

Ahhh- it's that time of year, the time when we "spring forward" and gain extra daylight, anticipate the arrival of spring and most importantly LOSE AN HOUR OF SLEEP! In an autism household- sleep is a precious commodity, one that is horded like fine jewels or Nutella.  Nighttime wanderings, odd sleep schedules and the like is something that most parents with kids on the spectrum endure. Melatonin is the Autism parent's best friend. But when those clocks change-  at either time of the year- it can send our kids into a tailspin that can take a whileto recover from.

The Boy, like most autistic children, NEEDS structure and routine. He doesn't like abrupt changes in plans, although as he gets older that seems to be getting a little better.  But when things don't go as they should- in his mind anyway- it is prime time for massive frustration, irritability and possible meltdowns. The time change   is not just an inconvenient part of life for him. Having extra daylight means absolutely nothing.  The clock on the wall and his internal clock are now different. While his body (and the Melatonin) are telling him one thing- his dad and I are telling him something different- and it messes him up. 

In years past- the time change has been a source of agitation for the whole family. We have to adjust dinner time, medicine time and try to ensure that the first day of the time change he is resting, relaxing and hopefully prepared the following morning for school.  I can't count how many all nighters we pulled (melatonin and Clonidine would get him to dreamland, but would not keep him there.) He was moody, over tired, and not a joy to be around at all. Our lack of sleep made us just as irritable, and of course that made life just all around miserable for everyone. 

This year (knock on wood) the change has been uneventful. In fact- he spent the night with his grandparents Saturday night- so he wasn't even home for the initial change over. I was VERY worried about this. But when I called on Sunday morning,Grandma said he slept all night,and only drank about half of what we refer to as "magic juice" a juice/melatonin/clonidine cocktail he gets every night at 7:00 PM. He then slept until 9:00 A.M.- which was actually 8:00- so his body clock was actually right on time.  We were thrilled, but of course, the skeptical little devil on my shoulder was telling me it was a fluke, and come Sunday night and Monday morning we were going to have a battle royale. 

But to my surprise and supreme happiness- he went to bed right on time last night- even though it was still light out- and slept ALL NIGHT LONG!  No wandering, no up in the middle of the night watching TV, no sneaking to the kitchen for a snack. When I woke him for school this morning, I was prepared for Cranky McCrankypants to make an appearance and the morning to be a roller coaster ride.  But- aside from the ritual of dad carrying him downstairs and depositing him on the couch- it was a "normal" morning. He was tired, slow to get moving- but who isn't on a Monday? Especially a dreary, rainy Monday like we have today. 

We prepare for WWIII at all holidays, family gatherings, family outings and yes for Daylight Savings Time. And not so much as a whimper (ok- may a little whimpering). But NOTHING like the last 7 years. I cannot tell you how excited I am- and for those parents with kiddos on the spectrum- you know this is a HUGE thing!   

I think he is getting a little more mature, and the fact that he LOVES his calendar and knew this was coming made the difference. I really don't know and I really don't care. Whatever the reason for such an uneventful change of the clocks is irrelevant. It happened- and I am not going to question it.   I am going to revel in the "normalcy" of it all- and then I am going to take a nap.