Autism and changing clocks
For most of the population, the clocks changing twice a year is, at worst, a mild irritation and to most of us just something that…….happens. For a lot of people on the spectrum it can represent a lot more than this as a friend has just reminded me.
She tells me her son is struggling at the moment and can find no explanation for it other than the time change. But it’s only an hour I hear you all cry! Yes, it’s only an hour and at this time of year the extra daylight in the evening is a welcome sign that summer is on it’s way. However, to someone on the spectrum who may be hypersensitive to to all sorts of stimuli, it can represent an extremely challenging alteration to their routine.
Not as daft as it sounds!
First of all their body clocks are suddenly all out of sync. Even older people on the spectrum can struggle with the lack of one hours sleep as routine is such an essential part of their lives. Add into that the fact that everything just doesn’t ‘look right’ according to the clock and we’re heading for tricky situation.
The day after the change Osborn commented that the world looked different and somehow, well, just not right. In his head the clock says 5.00pm but the way the light is falling doesn’t. In fact the way the light is falling at any time of day doesn’t look right to them as their brains work in minuscule detail.
Bed time is fraught with danger as they struggle to cope with going to bed when it’s ‘too light’ and getting up is another challenge because it’s ‘too dark’! Over the space of a few weeks they eventually settle into the new routine and everything feels ‘normal’ again but for people who generally tend to have trouble with sleep anyway, it’s a difficult time.
Parents, meanwhile, are tearing their hair out with kids that won’t go to bed or won’t get up because the light means it’s not the right time for either!
It’s a big issue in our house leading up to it as well with endless questions (mostly from Osborn!) about the whys and wherefore’s of why we do it anyway. What’s the point? I have endlessly explained the principle of having more light at the end of the day to save energy and allow greater productivity but in his ever logical mind, we have the same amount of daylight regardless of what the clocks say. Does it really matter which end of the day it is?
I can see his point but personally I like it. I love the longer summer evenings and always feel better when the clocks go forward as the day, to me, does feel longer. I also understand how it’s a challenge for my children and the whole thing will recur in October when the blasted clocks go back again!
In the meantime, they have finally settled now and I personally intend to enjoy the long evenings whilst we have them. October is a long way off although I know it’ll feel as though it’s suddenly upon us and hot on it’s heels…..Christmas! But let’s not think about that just now………