Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit more dysregulated than usual.
When it comes to autism and self-regulation, stimming and meeting sensory needs are incredibly important for us.
However, there is one thing that often gets left out of the discussion – special interests and passions.
Over the past few weeks, I have immersed myself into the things that make my little autistic heart happy-flappy.
One of those things?
Airports and airplanes.
Unfortunately, I haven’t flown in a couple of years. Between pandemic and costs (and fears of damaging the wheelchair), it’s not really been a thing.
That said, commercial aviation hasn’t gone away as a special interest. I fell in love with flying back in 2016, when I flew internationally to meet my (now) fiancé for the first time.
To say I was terrified was an absolute understatement – but at the same time, I was in awe of all the moving parts involved in such a trip.
I love seeing how things are interconnected – from gate agents and maintenance to the cabin crew and ATC.
My brain loves patterns, and being autistic – these are things that feel “right.”
To me, seeing how things work together and knowing the logistics/processes make me feel regulated and calm.
I also love the various facts, and compile them in a notebook.
Sometimes, it’s also the memories attached. Looking at diagrams and maps – it reminds me of times of kindness, excitement, and even the bittersweet.
- It’s the flood of emotions that overwhelm me when I see my best friend come through the doors.
- It’s the supportive confidence from the gate agents at the airport who gave me a little airplane pin for “good luck.”
- It’s the comfort of a stranger across the aisle, who just learned I was on a bereavement flight for my brother.
Even though airports are hard for me when it comes to sensory processing, there’s still something a little magical about that feeling of takeoff.
And all the people?
There’s something beautiful in knowing that every person in the terminal has a destination of some kind – each one with a story of their own.