Earthquakes and Autism

About 3 hours ago today Virginia was hit by a 5.9 magnitude earthquake which shook a great deal of the East Coast. I live in New Jersey and could tell you it was a very scary situation. When the shaking began my first thought was that it was just a truck coming down our road. I quickly looked outside and realized that this was not the case as their was no vehicles driving down our block at that time. Then it suddenly hit me that we could very well be having a earthquake. While the shaking continued I felt incredibly uneasy to the point where my mind was drawing a blank and I was just holding on waiting for the shaking to stop.

A few minutes, after the last few tremors had stopped I quickly called both my parents to figure out what was going on. My dad confirmed that it was indeed an earthquake and that everything was going to be fine which I believed. I couldn’t help but thinking afterwards though about the whole concept of having a strategy when possible disasters come around. This especially holds true for families with individuals on the autism spectrum. When I was younger, the smallest little things would bother me like wind and rain and I couldn’t even think what would have happend if I went through an earthquake back then.

The best advice I could give to individuals with autism when these situations occur is to try and remain calm. Find something that you enjoy and try to focus on that for as long as the situation is going on. For me, it is also very comforting to know that I am on a flat surface and know I have myself balanced. It makes me feel like I’m in control regardless of what is going on. Ideally the bigger the magnitude the earthquake the more extreme the measures should be implemented. Just remember that earthquakes are ultimately going to be unexpected and the best way to prepare is by having a set plan based on where your child is on the spectrum.

How are you dealing with the Virginia earthquake? Do you have any specific ways of preparing for these types of situations?


One thought on “Earthquakes and Autism

  1. Rock – n – roll Kerry! Glad to hear you’re shaken but not stirred!

    lol – I’m in CA and have gone thru my share of earthquakes – tho thankfully not any huge ones (by CA standards).

    You are right on with the concept of being prepared and having a strategy – or rather various strategies to suit the situation. You also offer very sound advice about staying calm and to focus on things one enjoys.

    I work with younger students in the classroom settings and one of the things I find also helps is practicing those strategies. We have earthquake drills like other schools have tornado and hurricane drills and such – and don’t we all have some type of intruder drills now?

    In the classrooms I work in, we take these drills to the next level – we practice what’s going to happen before, during and after the drill. And we practice being calm, focusing on both the adults giving us needed information and also finding our “happy place”.

    And then after the drill (or event) we deconstruct and talk about what worked, what we may need additional practice on etc.

    Sometimes even in the bast of situations (like waiting in a long line to see a movie we really want to see) it can be hard to reach our “happy places” so its really important to practice this and our plans for when unexpected events come up.

    Thanks for sharing!

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