Airplanes and Regulation

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.

A photo from the window of a plane. You can see the wingtip. Below are several green and yellow fields, along with houses. In the distance are blue-hued mountains.

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.

A notebook with pencil drawings of airplanes, facts about aviation, and more. In the background are some aviation books, and a little toy Boeing 747 plane.

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.

One thought on “Airplanes and Regulation

  1. And if as well as airplanes (both my Dad and his father were pilots for a season of their lives) creative writing is an interest, that bit offers many opportunities, “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.”

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