I rock my 7 year old son with special needs to sleep every night.
I hold him in arms until he is fast asleep and then I lift him in to his special needs bed, place his favourite toy in the bottom corner of his bed, kiss him on the cheek, wish him a peaceful night and close over the padded doors with the perspex windows.
There's lots of practical reasons I do this. I spend a good 15-20 minutes patting and rubbing his back to get rid of any trapped wind which will help him (and us) enjoy a longer night's sleep.
I can usually tell what sort of night he will have based on those precious 15 minutes, dictating whether we go to bed early to prepare for the night ahead or risk staying up a little bit later.
But if I'm honest, those 15 minutes are probably my most favourite part of the day. A little bit of quiet time just him and me together with me chatting about my day, rubbing his back and watching his little face as he slowly doses off to sleep.
The constant movement slows, the hand flapping ceases, the head movements stop and I can begin to run my fingers through his hair, hold his hands and touch his face.
This is the real reason why I love cuddling him to sleep.
You see, Daniel has Sensory Processing Disorder and I will be ever thankful to a wonderful Brainwave therapist who explained what exactly that means and how it affects him.
I watch Daniel throughout the day and his constant movements exhaust me so I can only imagine how it is for him to never be at peace in his body.
He hates his hair or face being touched.
We describe hair and nail cutting, teeth and ear cleaning as 'doing battle'.
Holding hands is a complete No No.
Hugs and kisses are out of the question unless you manage to steal one and risk being head-butted.
Holding Daniel is atune to holding a bucking broncho.
I used to take this personally, 'Why doesn't he like being touched or held (by me)?' and then I heard those magic words 'Sensory Processing Disorder.'
I finally began to understand Daniel and with understanding came the opportunity to begin to do things to help him including a programme of desensitizing him and deep pressure with a weighted vest and lycra suit.
We have worked with some fantastic therapists over the past few years, but as I sit with Daniel I often reflect that it is the ones who truly helped us understand our little boy that made the biggest difference.
I know that I don't have many years left of rocking Daniel over to sleep as he becomes too heavy to lift in to bed so I'm going to make the most of it while I can.
Cherish this time with my little boy while he's at peace with his body.
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