“In a great green room, tucked away in bed, is a little bunny. “Goodnight room, goodnight moon.” And to all the familiar things in the softly lit room—to the picture of the three little bears sitting in chairs, to the clocks and his socks, to the mittens and the kittens, to everything one by one—he says goodnight.”
When Mary was two years old, we read this book to her every night for a while. I would walk around her bedroom with her, facing forward in my arms. We would say goodnight to the light switch, good night to the curtains, good night to her teddy bear, etc. And she would giggle. And then settle down. It was part of the ritual.
From babyhood, we read books to our children, cuddling them as they went to bed. We also read stories whenever they would bring us books to read. We are a reading family.
So when Mary was placed in special education at 5 years of age, with a 2.5 rated age for reading readiness, among the questions that I asked myself over and over was “Haven’t I read to her and with her since she was a baby?” It didn’t make sense to me.
At that time, I tried to follow guidebooks. Dr. Spock was my go-to reference book. If parenting could be done by the book, I was an expert. Earnestly, we raised our children. We cared for them, read to them, gave them delicious food, played with them, etc. We did what all caring parents do for their children. Maybe there should have been an asterisk on Dr. Spock’s book and all such books – “Results not Typical, for special needs children.”
When my children were all placed in special education in the space of a year (1991-1992 school year), all that we had done for them was thrown into doubt. Why, if I did everything by the book, were my children in special education? It all seemed upside down.
I didn’t throw my Dr. Spock Baby & Child Care book away, but I wanted to. I kept it for disease identification from that time onward, having to do with measles, pinkeye, etc. (There was no Internet back then.) I started reading different guidebooks.
However, we did continue reading to our children. We did continue the night time routines. They say many children with autism thrive on routine and structure. (Breaking the routines can and did result in meltdowns). For our family, the bedtime pattern (bath, story, song, prayer), remained a very precious time.
What were/are your children’s favorite stories?