I am writing to share with you, an experience I had while driving to work at the Autism treatment Center of America, in the middle of a blizzard one blustery day last week. My typical drive to work begins at 8:00am and my arrival is at 8:30am. On this particular morning, I wanted to be sure to allow at least an hour to get to work, and I wanted to arrive early to ensure the staff and families were safe and cared for.
As I pulled out of my driveway at 6:00am in my mid-sized 4 wheel drive, I felt confident as a driver, for I have been a life-long resident of Berkshire County and have driven in many snow storms. Only a few of us were on the roads at this time-in these conditions. The wind was blowing hard and the snow was falling fast. It was difficult to see more than a few feet in front of me due to the blinding snow. This was certainly going to be an adventure.
Approximately ten minutes into the drive and having gone just under three miles, I began to doubt myself as a driver and wondered if I would make it to work in one piece. My windshield kept freezing up due to the extreme cold so I had only a little patch of window I could see through. This was turning into a much more dangerous ride than I had ever anticipated. I could feel my body begin to tense up as I gripped the steering wheel for dear life. The world outside had virtually become unpredictable and felt unsafe. At this point, I was getting myself so upset and nervous that I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to take care of myself.
Then, as suddenly as I invited the feeling of fear into my mind, I decided to let it go and brought forth a completely different and very beautiful picture. I decided that driving in the snow storm was like driving in a metaphor of being Autistic. The whipping snow outside the car was my unpredictable, distracting world, and my car was my safe place. My eyes became focused on the small patch of ice free window space with a new calm and wonder. The snow was no longer scary to me, and instead it was mesmerizing. The the once monstrous sound of the tires had become a relaxing reminder of my safe travel.
Upon my safe arrival at work, I continued this feeling of euphoria and gratitude. I found myself thanking these amazing parents,for giving me the gift of working with their children each week. I then thanked the children for teaching me how to love the world around me to customize the experience to make it more digestible.
The next time you are in a potentially unsafe and unpredictable circumstance, know that you can create a completely amazing experience from within as a way to take care of yourself. Think about Autism.