Here is the system we had in place.
6:30-7:30p Green light time: play in room upstairs
7:30-8p Yellow light time: brush teeth, pick books, use bathroom, get ready for bed
8-8:30p Red light time: read in bed with light on
8:30p Lights out: read with touch lamp that turns itself off
The plan was designed together and modified over time whenever it didn't work quite right. It was coupled with a traffic-light-like timer that had the colored lights and he coud reference for himself. (Lots of programming issues thought meant that he had mostly mom reminders.) Originally, he needed the help. He needed this much time to wind down and actually be able to get to sleep too (just a wee bit high energy).
So... I was noticing that I could skip yellow light time without problems, he'd handle the prep on his own. The adherence to routine which used to be both so essential and so comforting for him was less rigid, less needed. Considering the success of the screen time experiment, I floated the idea of just an "upstairs time". Having adult time in the evening is important for my husband and I, plus the move upstairs helps the transition to less high energy play (harder to do laps... I'm not kidding; he'll run 40+ laps around the downstairs floor plan regularly). I was willing to drop the red light idea entirely, but he wanted my help. So, I agreed to do a "red light if you like" i.e. I'd give a reminder to move on to reading, but I wasn't going to enforce it. Again, we said we'd check back in a week and see.
Well, we have another success. He took up the responsibility for his own bed time. He figured out that staying up until 9 made him too sleepy and he liked going to bed "in the eights" better. The challenges of dealing with more severe Autism symptoms are seeming farther and farther away. He has so much more self control and I can pull back and I'm so delighted to see the growth! The strict adherence to routines and difficulty with self modulation can last into adulthood for those with severe Autism. While there are still a slew of characteristic Autism issues I'm addressing, they're becoming both fewer and, thrillingly, more available to him to address himself, with help. I can't say enough how much I'm loving this progress. Woo hoo for independence, growth, learning... this is just so uplifting to see!
Food is next on my list. The current deal is: he picks a protein and a veggie and then a sugar. Sometimes I help or he'll do it on his own. He does request a lot more assistance with meals. He has a massive sweet tooth, but there are lots of good options available to him and I'm willing to make this experiment number three. In the same genre of "no limits, show me you can handle it". Here's to a successful "Part Three" post in the near future!
|Sheets? Blankets? Pajamas? Nah... touch light as a book mark and go splat! (From before the experiment even.)|