With a hurricane, you can see it coming, so it feels like you have some control. But really it's a bizarre state of flux, fear, and fine. This is not easy for anyone, but for someone with autism who relies on consistency, especially in a schedule, it’s really tough.
What Henry and I do to manage the unknown is write out our plan. Here’s our plan for two of our Hurricane days:
Saturday, 9/9: Stay in the apartment. Call Granddad and say Happy Birthday. Charge electronics all day. Have some snacks. Maybe at night we’ll lose power and air conditioning. Maybe we’ll take the sofa cushions and hang out together in the big bathroom.
Monday, 9/11: Wait for the police to tell us all clear. Call dad and see who has power! Make a plan to go see dad when it’s all clear. That might be Tuesday.
Henry sat with me to talk it out and then we wrote it down. He took the papers and he’ll likely carry them with him for the whole weekend. Even if we end up in the bathroom with flashlights, pillows, bottled water, and a thermos of coffee with Baileys. We’ll both have some stress moments throughout the weekend so we’ll go back to the papers and look at the plan. We’ll read it out loud. And it will soothe us to see that Tuesday will be different than Sunday.
A friend at work mentioned that her young nephew gets anxiety. We talked about having him create his own Hurricane Preparedness Kit. What does he need to feel safe and in control? Headphones to keep out the noise? A special blanket or pillow? A favorite book or toy? Have him make up that kit and keep it with him throughout the weekend. Allow him to be in charge of his kit. He can lower his anxiety if he is in charge of what he can actually control.
And isn’t that really it? This is how to handle the storms of life. We live as if we know what is coming because this day is Wednesday and it goes like this every Wednesday. Then we see something starting to churn to the South, the wind picks up, we bring in the patio furniture, and bam! We’re in the eye.
A good spiritual storm plan is pretty close to a Florida hurricane plan:
1. Stock up on essentials that keep you hydrated and nourished.
2. Hunker down and have things to do, like a good book to read, so you aren’t looking at the predictions every five minutes.
3. If you need to evacuate, do so patiently and kindly.
4. Write out your vision and hold it close.
4. Re-read the plan and remind yourself that this will pass.
It’s good to have a plan in place long before we’re hit, so we can control what we can control. So that we remember that by Tuesday, it will be different.