Trimming Nails: A Strategic Planning Job.

Boy Sleeping

It’s ten o’clock at night. My child is finally asleep good enough for me to do it. Oh, how I hate doing this because if I wake him up I just asked for a meltdown, and that is one thing I never ask for. However, if I don’t take the chance and do it, it’s going to be bad real soon. It won’t be too long before he starts looking like Edward Scissorhands. It’s already so bad that he scratches me when he claws at me when he is mad. I’ve got to do it. It is very risky, to say the least, because I really need my sleep. If I wake him up, it is not just a meltdown that will happen. He will also be wide awake after the meltdown has ceased and will run around my house wild all night long.

What exactly am I talking about, you might ask?

Trimming finger nails and toe nails!

Oh, how I wish it was as easy for my boys as it is for neurotypical children. I remember when my boys were newborns and I just hated trimming their nails because they were so small. Now, well…it’s a different story. I would take the nerves of trimming tiny nails any day over what I have to do now to achieve this process.

I was telling someone about how the process goes to trim their nails the other day and they gave me that “deer in headlights” look. They had no idea. No idea at all that something so easy could be so hard for autism families.

It’s for real folks. I tiptoe into his room and hold my breath while I do it because I am petrified that he will hear me breathing and wake up. It’s dark. I use my phone for light and once again I am scared to death the light will wake him up. But it has to be done. I can’t let him walk around with nails that constantly scratch his coaches and me. I can’t let his toe nails start growing into his skin. It has to be done.

He is getting bigger and stronger each day and the older he gets, well, this simple process is not getting better. So, I will continue to tiptoe into his room while he is sleeping, hold my breath, and do the job. It could be worse, but it could also be better.

Every day has it challenges. Each day brings about new challenges and new worries. However, we are autism parents. Besides trimming nails in the dark, we also know how to hold our children down for haircuts while they scream and lash out. We are used to fixing and packing the same lunch for them every day during the school year. We know what happens if we don’t follow our routine and schedule. We are familiar with sensory overload and the great lengths that we have to go to every day for our children. Sadly enough, the simple task of trimming nails is one of those seemingly easy things that takes a lot of strategic planning, and it’s likely that only special needs parents can fully understand.

Would you like to contribute to

Please send an email to or check out our submission guidelines here.

Angela Conrad

Angela Conrad is a freelance writer, mom to two boys on the autism spectrum, determined autism advocate, and fun-loving person. When she is not doing her advocacy work, she can be found managing her son’s therapy schedules and all the other crazy things that life brings. She enjoys reading, exercising and helping others.

Latest posts by Angela Conrad (see all)