• Understanding Autism from the Inside

    “Academics came easily to me. The rest of life—not so much.”
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Aspie Adventures: Overseas with my Boys

Want to go on an adventures with me? My two eldest boys, and myself have taken to the planes, trains, and automobiles….and buses, and trams…and who knows what else by the time we are through in our first trip out of the US. And, I was terrified.

As many of you know, I began my MFA at FDU last July. It is a low-residency program, meaning I am only on campus twice per year. January’s residency was supposed to be in England. I say supposed to be because I decided to change programs after the first semester and transfer to Seton Hill to study Writing Popular Fiction. Seton Hill’s January residency was in PA. But—my plane tickets were already booked.

Adam (18) and I were planning on taking that opportunity to spend some time in London after my residency, and then fly over to Italy to visit Rome before heading down to Sorrento to meet distant relatives for the first time. (I’ll tell you all that story when we get to the Sorrento portions of our trip, OK?). Well, tickets are non-refundable so we changed some dates around and planned to take the trip anyway.

Then, on Christmas Eve, I decided to take Matt (13) along as well since now I am not going to a residency and we would be in Europe purely for exploration. Merry Christmas Matthew, I bought him a ticket to come along.

So…I am writing this post from somewhere in the air over somewhere in Europe!

A little pre-trip panic

I was a wreck. Panic attack, overload, tearful meltdowns. Packing was overwhelming, the thought of flying over the ocean terrified me—but I promised myself this year I was taking all that crap that scares me and keeps me from doing the things I really want to do in life and conquer them. Ya, easier said than done! But here’s the thing… fear was really holding me back—paralyzing my life, and I am done with it. Oh, I will still be terrified, and panic, and cry, and throw-up, but I really want to be able to do so much more than I do currently.

So…I read my work in public for the first time at FDU, and I didn’t die, or vomit. (I did quack though—don’t ask!). The point is, I survived. Now I know I can do those workshops, read my work, give that speak or lecture (that they offer to PAY me for but I turn down out of fear all the time) and I won’t actually die.

Why am I scared to fly over the ocean? Beats the hell out of me! It has been an irrational fear of mine forever—ok, maybe not irrational I really am scared of plummeting into the ocean. Why more so than to the ground? Got me. Interestingly enough, after all the fear and panic, and sitting in the car scared to back out of the parking spot to head to the airport, once I was on the road my two boys strapped in beside and behind me, a calmness settled over me. It was truly weird.

Once at the airport, and ever since, it has been a whirlwind of finding flights, finding trains, looking at directions and everything there is to see—so the busyness too helped.

Alright, Ready to take a trip? Plane has left New York.

Next Stop: Rome, Italy!

Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.