Autism Stress: Would It Help?

Autism Stress: Would It Help?

The smell is what I remember best.  The smell of the air and the appearance of the sky.  I seemed always able to sense the coming of a tornado.   My guess is most kids growing up in Kansas develop this skill.   I lost it when I moved to Michigan, or maybe it lay dormant because I never needed it, but I can remember.

I can remember happily swirling chocolate ice cream around my bowl to develop the smooth consistency I loved, when I smelled the tornado. Joy became fear as our family rushed down to the common basement of the apartment complex.  We waited, because that is what you do when a tornado is on the move. On this occasion there was no damage, but a time would come before I left the state, when anticipated stress became real as the windows of our new home were blown out.

When you are 6 or 7 years old tornadoes create immense stress.

Decades later I realize there are tornadoes of many kinds, each with their own ability to create stress.  For those of us who are parents of special needs children stress comes like tornadoes.  Though implied by many our children are not always or even primarily the source of our tornado like stress.  We feel extreme stress because so little about the world includes special needs families or supports them effectively.  As a result, when we work our jobs, live in our communities, deal with our health, or plan our finances everything is harder.  Each basic element of life requires adaptation turning basic life experiences into tornadoes.

 What can we do about the difficult experience of managing life in a world ill-equipped to include families with special needs?  While I don’t have all the answers one came in the form of a movie I recommend.

Bridge of Spies for which Tom Hanks should have received best actor contains clear and inspired direction about how to handle tornado like stress.

Mark Rylance, who won the academy award for best supporting actor had one line repeated in the face of great stress.  “Would it help?”   I can still hear it in my ears.

Applying this simple mantra, as we surrender the false belief we can control the uncontrollable, calms the tornado.  In this moment, we can remember these tornadoes are emotional not physical storms and overcome, using the energy saved from anxiety to accomplish important things.

About Russ Ewell

Since 1994 I have been devoted to the research and application of innovative technology solutions to education. My passion for these pursuits has been driven by my experience as a parent of children with special needs. During the economic technological growth explosion of the 1990's I was lived and worked in Silicon Valley, and was fortunate enough to find a group of people with similar interests and passions. As a result I was able to launch a non-profit called Hope Technology Group whose mission became advancing the use of technology in education. We eventually launched Hope Technology School, which has used technology to build a fascinating and effective educational program that practices full inclusion. Around the same time, I was fortunate enough to develop and build an awarding winning program called E-Soccer with the help of great friends and excellent coaches. These endeavors have left me with a continuing hunger to learn more about the possibilites of education, technology, and inclusion.

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