Jamie, unlike many autistic children, has in fact been a brilliant sleeper for most of his life – we definitely caught a lucky break there. However, he does go through phases now and again of being hard to settle, and Christmas holidays have been a big culprit for the past few years, this year included. This has in fact been very much a "Wow, parenting really does get better! Cool!" moment, as the situation has been a dramatic improvement on The Great Sleep Fiasco Of Christmas Holidays 2011, which I prefer not to revisit even until memory except to say that at times I was seriously wondering whether the penalties for beating children unconscious/tying them to their beds were actually that severe. Two years down the line, Katie at least has developed the common sense to realise that there's actually something to be said for staying in bed and trying to get to sleep at night, so that means only one of them at a time to deal with, which is a massive relief.
However, Jamie's antics have been keeping Katie awake, and, unlike her brother, she usually does take a long time to drop off. Last night, when she was still awake long after even her brother had finally succumbed, I tried talking her through a visualisation I sometimes do for her at such times to help her to relax, called 'floating on a cloud'. This involves getting her to picture herself floating upwards on a cloud and looking at all sorts of lovely things below/around her. I worked my way through the usual sequence of grass, flowers, trees, and baby birds.
"The mummy and daddy birds are flying in to bring their babies worms to eat," I told her. "They're taking care of them just the way Daddy and I take care of you and Jamie. Well, except that we don't bring you worms to eat, but you know what I mean."
"They're taking care of the babies by doing the things for them that they need," Katie clarified. "Just like you and Daddy do the things for me and Jamie that we need."
"That's right, Boo!" I hugged her proudly. "And now you're floating up higher, higher, and seeing all those beautiful green leaves spread out below you… up, up, into the blue, blue sky.
"It isn't blue," Katie objected.
"Really? What colour is it?" Katie likes adding her own imaginative twist on things; I thought for a moment that she'd just decided to float off into a pink sky because she liked it better, or some such.
"It's some other colour that Daddy told me about. I can't remember what, but it just looks blue because that's the way we see it."
"Kid," I told her, "you're floating on a cloud here. I wouldn't delve too deeply into the physics of this if I were you."