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Fear /ˈfir/: An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.


Fear of the dark, water, spiders, animals, clowns…the list is endless. However, for someone with autism, there can be much more of that ‘unpleasant emotion’ than for others. The list grows to include crowded places, light sensitivity, loud noises, being touched, and so on. 


When I was younger, my mom would arrive at parties and events very early with me, because I wouldn’t walk in if the room was too loud or too crowded. During the annual Halloween Parade in our town, firetrucks participate and drive by slowly with bright lights and sirens. I would cover my ears and my parents would take me home. As I got older, I was able to adapt to being around areas that are bright and seemed loud. 


Research shows that without a healthy dose of fear, you might not be aware of, or care about, the threats around you. When you get scared, your body reacts physically so you can handle danger. This is known as a “fight-or-flight” response…meaning, when you’re in jeopardy, you can find the energy, the focus, or the strength to either fight or flee. 


When you step outside your comfort zone, it’s fear that makes you feel alive, which can be fun and exciting. This happens with things like skydiving, riding a roller coaster, or going to a haunted house. Currently, COVID-19 is a fear for many around the world. But because of this fear, we’re able to understand what’s important to us. Every time I clock out from my shift at the retirement home, I feel as if I’ve survived a battlefield of anxiety and anger, not to mention the land mines of stress and sadness that I sometimes step on. But along with that, I feel exhilarated.  Because I know I’m there to help deliver food and smiles to the residents. 


I believe we actually need fear in our lives in order to know what we’re capable of in life. 


Until next time,


Sarah Matincheck

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