On Another Planet
Visiting a different place can be discombobulating. The food tastes different. The scenery is unfamiliar. We're not sure how to interact with people.
A friendly gesture at home may mean the opposite somewhere else.
Don’t know the language? Try meeting even the simplest needs: food, toilet, sleep.
Moving outside our comfort zone can be exciting. It can also be exhausting and even maddeningly frustrating.
Autism parents hear the “traveler in a foreign land” analogy for our kids from early on. For those with extreme language difficulties, every day can feel like a fresh arrival at a place both exotic and sometimes threatening. Perhaps that is why our son and others on the spectrum cling with fierce desperation to familiar objects and patterns.
For people on the autism spectrum, it’s not just language processing that’s different. It can be any and every sensory input. Sight, sound, smell, taste, touch. The invisible sense of communication between people. Things that feel wonderful to many people may feel like torture.
The person dealing with sensory overload might not be able to verbalize it. A parent or teacher may have trouble interpreting a frantic meltdown of frustration.
If your sensory system is gauged so differently from what most of us consider “the norm,” every day might feel like visiting a different planet.
So far no one has figured out a quick, easy way to deal with these challenges. A few non-technical instinctive basics can help to start with:
Imagining what it feels like to be in the other person’s shoes
I wish I had more concrete help to offer others. hikingautism.com is a result of our finding that time moving in nature is a huge positive for our son and the whole family. Hopefully everyone can find at least one thing that calms the panicky sense that we’re struggling on an unfamiliar planet.
Once in a while our hikes take us to an exotic looking place. This week’s Hike Notes are about Ring Mountain-Tiburon, an open space preserve with a lunar landscape vibe that offers wide open views and spots to try outdoor rock climbing.
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 24: Ring Mountain-Tiburon
Sharing insights and hiking highlights (Hikes, Hike Search by Area) from the special needs caregiver front in San Francisco.