“I know of nobody who is purely autistic, or purely neurotypical. Even God has some autistic moments, which is why the planets spin,” Jerry Newport, author of Your Life is Not a Label
By Ron Sandison
Every person experiences fear and anxiety. It’s part what makes us human. Sensory issues mixed with obsessive thoughts from autism cause my fears to be heightened to the point of terror.
Five things I fear which may seem irrational to the typical mind but produces in me the fight or flight response include:
1. Driving long distances in my car. My savant mind keeps track of statistics. On highways in the United States each year we have over 34,000 deaths caused by auto accidents. I fear becoming one of these statistical numbers. Autism causes me to become easily distracted. One of my fears is driving out of state and getting lost during the night on a dirt-road surround by cornfields.
2. Change in my daily routine. One of the main characteristics of autism in the DSM-V is repetitive behaviors. I followed the same rigid pattern every work day; I got up at 5:55 am and headed to work. My new infant baby has the power to change even my autistic rituals. I feared waking up at 5:30 am and driving my daughter, Makayla, to my parent’s house for them to babysit. What I feared is one day being late for work due to the new pattern.
3. Meddling with my toy collection. I have a 6,000 dollar Calico Critter collection kept in unopened stacked boxes and also animal toys from around the world stored in my former bedroom (man-cave) at my parents’ house. After my daughter was born my parents wanted to remodel my old bedroom into a nursery. The honey-badger came out of the burrow ready to fight. Needless to say the collection stayed and my parent’s guestroom became a nursery.
4. Abnormal phobias. When I was six years old we went for a family vacation out west. During the vacation we visited “the Sandison family farm” in Missouri. The farmer’s wife had nasty, mud-stained five-inch long toenails, spiraling and textured like fusilli macaroni noodles. For the next seven years I would experience a meltdown from just the site of bare feet. This phobia kept me from swimming at the beach. Two years ago I read an article concerning a homeless man who froze to death in an outhouse and his body was not discovered until summer. As you can guess I won’t anytime soon be using an outhouse.
5. Supervisors and job performance reviews. Autism has caused me to experience both underemployment and unemployment. I fear having a supervisor call me into his office and state, “Things just aren’t working out here!” or “You’re just not the right fit.”
I have learned not to allow my emotions or fears to control or overwhelm me. In courage and faith I move forward. When I experience fear and anxiety I can talk with my family, friends, or co-workers and evaluate if the situation or problem is something I should fear. I also can take three deep breaths and place my burden into God’s hands. Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:34).
Ron Sandison works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. He is an advisory board member of Autism Society Faith Initiative of Autism Society of America. Sandison has a Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University and is the author of A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom published by Charisma House. He has memorized over 10,000 Scriptures including 22 complete books of the New Testament and over 5,000 quotes.
Ron has published articles in Autism Speaks, Autism Society of America, Autism File Magazine, Autism Parenting Magazine, Not Alone, the Mighty, the Detroit News, the Oakland Press, and many more. He frequently guest speaks at colleges, conferences, autism centers, and churches. Ron and his wife, Kristen, reside in Rochester Hills, MI, with a baby daughter, Makayla Marie born on March 20, 2016. You can contact Ron at his website www.spectruminclusion.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Art of Autism blogs by Ron Sandison – Five Ways autism makes me Unique