Walking along a trail, a sidewalk, or a hallway… BAM! Your autistic family member falls to his knees, and won’t budge. Maybe hits the ground flat out, face down. In front of moving traffic. Possibly crying and pounding his fists. Or silent, but clinging to the ground as if to save his life.
Or maybe he turns to face you and gives you a skull-numbing head butt. Or suddenly, teeth chomp down on your forearm or shoulder.
Countless sudden behavior issues like this have popped up for our family. We hear similar descriptions of unpredictable behavior from other families with a member on the autism spectrum.
Our experience pales in comparison to that of many families.
A huge challenge for many is difficulty communicating. If your family member can’t use language to indicate excruciating stomach cramps or a debilitating migraine headache, they may act out aggressively instead.
Peeling away the onion layers of some underlying causes of our son’s behaviors has been a years-long process. Positive highlight: We saw aggressive behavior virtually disappear after we figured out food allergy problems.
Unraveling the mystery of unexpected behavior bursts is not easy. However, during the ongoing problem-solving process, being out on a scenic trail always provides some comfort for our son. And for us.
Time in nature doesn’t “cure” things, but it offers sensory calm during the storms. The serenity our son finds during his time outdoors carries over in part to home and school.
Nature can help any of us bounce back from trouble. We stumble. We look up at the sky and take a deep breath. We pick ourselves up, and step a foot forward again.
This week’s Hike Notes are about Azalea Hill and Alpine Lake Trail, a beautiful, lesser known hike in the Marin Watershed where my son happened to have several “man down” moments on the trail, but came through happily in the end.
Please feel free to share. If you’re not able to take one of these Northern California hikes, hopefully you can enjoy the photos!
The list of hikes is getting long! Please check the Quick View Hike List or scroll down the main Hikes page to see the current list of hike notes.
New this week:
Hike Notes 36: Azalea Hill and Alpine Lake Trail
Sharing insights and hiking highlights (Hikes) from the special needs caregiver front in San Francisco.