How To Face an All-Out Blitz


I’ve found that prayers work best when you have big players. ~Knute Rockne

We've all had one of these days


Football season is upon us again. Nothing says fall to me like crisp mornings, the smell of baking apple pies, and 300-pound men trying to knock one another’s teeth out at high speeds. With it comes my usual ambiguity toward the sport (after the NFL lockout and a spate of scandals in college ball, who wouldn’t be ambiguous?), but, a chance to reflect on what it all means to me.

I’m no player, and my lone semester taking “Coaching Football 101” hardly qualifies me as the next Don Shula. But I am living with an autism diagnosis. On some days it might be easy, like marching a team methodically downfield for a touchdown. Other days I feel like a scrawny quarterback facing down half a dozen angry D-linemen. Not fun at all. It’s the same feeling I imagine deer might have right before they realize they’re about to become someone’s trophy.

Take that, rookie!

Thankfully life, like a football game, gives us plenty of chances to get up and try another day. We might feel bruised and strained and dislocated, but chances are we’re not going to die in the course of a game. That doesn’t mean it can’t be scary as hell, or that we won’t feel like we are going to die. As a veteran of many unintentional panic attacks, I’d almost rather face down the blitz than go through one of those again.

But veteran status has its benefits. I’ve learned to safely negotiate just about every stressful situation. It’s been perhaps two years since I’ve panicked. Knowing about AS has been half the battle. But there are other ways to make our sensory-overloaded world a lot more tolerable.

* If you can, wear lightly-tinted sunglasses. There is an entire school of thought devoted to this idea (the IRLEN method) but I’ve noticed shades help me concentrate more and even make better eye contact.

* Invest in an mp3 player or iPod. Music heals. When you have your favorites with you, especially while traveling, it’s easier to zone out and be soothed.

* Get plenty of sleep, and stop eating several hours before bed. 8 hours a day may not be enough for people on the spectrum (I myself often need 10). Lay off the soda and coffee before sleeping as well.

* Buy a small piece of fabric and imbue it with a favorite scent. This is the adult version of having a security blanket. Surprisingly it works, since our brains are wired to associate certain smells with happy memories.

* Take a book or puzzle magazine when it’s necessary to wait in a line. I’m not sure about other Aspies, but getting lost in a good book can make almost anything more tolerable. Plus, strangers are less likely to engage in conversation with someone who’s reading.

* Breathe deep. It’s something we all forget to do. Inhale deeply, count to 8 or 10, then let the breath out slowly through your mouth. Our brains automatically feel better after receiving fresh oxygen.

* Have a “safe place” you can envision in your mind. It can be anything: a favorite childhood spot, a beloved vacation destination, or an imaginary place like Narnia or Hogwarts. Yes, it’s a form of daydreaming, but it works.

I’m not suggesting there’s a quick way to escape the bombardment we face every day. To an NT, everyday life is something taken for granted. To an Aspie it may feel like that rush to the quarterback. But, as any good coach will tell you, there’s a counterattack for anything.

Now, if only I could get my Chargers to advance beyond the AFC championship. Then, I might actually be considered a football genius. Until then I’ll have to stick strictly to armchair quarterbacking.

You know, he has a point.

Enjoyed this post? Be sure to click “Like” and subscribe to P&Q! Contact the author anytime at wikusandmurdock@yahoo.com.

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on September 16, 2011.

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