Over the Ridge
“Detour sign ahead. We’ll have to turn here,” I’d say as our family was on one of our regular routes to a familiar destination. “Uh oh,” I’d be thinking as I turned the steering wheel.
When our boys were younger, deviating from our traditional route usually meant tears and panic in my younger son, who is profoundly affected by autism. Until his early teens, any departure from his known, established activities triggered a fight or flight meltdown.
For most of us, knowing what to expect helps us avoid anxiety. This feeling can be extreme for some individuals on the autism spectrum.
The hyper vigilance about knowing what is coming up ahead can be debilitating, because it brings a constant level of stress and anxiety about the next week, the next day, the next minute.
By spending time on new trails where none of us had been before, our son became more flexible about facing the unknown. Not only could he hike a new trail and enjoy it, but over the years, he could more calmly face stressful situations like doctor or dentist visits, or going to a new school setting.
The rest of the family learned to go with the flow more easily as well. We can all enjoy trying a new adventure, and more level-headedly face upcoming challenges.
None of us knows for sure what awaits us over the next ridge. Being able to face new situations with a sense of equanimity is a skill we continuously learn over our lifetimes.
May we all face the world chin up as we walk our various paths, and find our way step by step.
For those who missed it, HikingAutism was recently interviewed by Wilderness Times. Here’s my interview in their I Love the Outdoors series.
This week’s Hike Notes, Rodeo Valley Trail-Marin Headlands, leads readers through a low valley section of the Marin Headlands that rises up to great views of the rolling hills of the headlands with the Golden Gate Bridge peeking up from behind.
Click Insights/Hike Update News for inspiring reflections. Browse hikes on the main Hikes page or on the Hike Search by Area (was Quick View Hike List) page. Click World Walks to see or share favorite family-friendly walks! Stay in touch with Lisa Louis and HikingAutism via Contact. The Links page lists a loose collection of helpful information links.
Check the Home page for the broader background story. If you’re not able to take one of these Northern California hikes, hopefully you can enjoy the photo galleries at the bottom of each hike page! Please feel free to share, and follow on Twitter at @HikingAutism
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Hike Notes 163: Rodeo Valley Trail-Marin Headlands
Sharing insights and hiking highlights (Hikes, Hike Search by Area) from the special needs caregiver front in San Francisco.