Brian R. King, LCSW, was a guest on Your Beautiful Child Radio. I welcome any and all insight he has to share…. He has a book that I own, and has so much power to share from a Dad on the autism spectrum, it’s a must have. LET’S RELATE – BOOK on AMAZON
Meltdown At The Airport By: Brian R. King, LCSW
I’m going to be very vulnerable in this post for the benefit of all who read it. Let me start by saying, “I HATE FLYING.” I realize it’s a necessary evil as I receive more requests to give presentations out of state. Between the bright lights, echoing overhead announcements and people repeatedly bumping into me at the airport, there’s the rapid pressure changes and unpredictable motion of the airplane itself. You’d think that would be enough to send me into a meltdown.
Yesterday I woke up at 4:30am to get to the airport to fly to New York for a presentation that night from 6:30-9:30pm. The landing into New York had significant turbulence and in addition to praying to God I gripped the seat in front of me so tight that I had a hard time letting go and my hands were stiff and sore.
The rest of the day went smoothly and I did an awesome presentation, met some amazing, generous people and received some of the best feedback I’ve ever gotten. I was back to my hotel and resting by 10:30pm. That’s a 15 hour day with about 1 hour of downtime in the middle.
I awoke the next morning feeling pretty worn down and very eager to get home to my family. The flight out was fine and I had a layover in Philadelphia before heading home to Chicago. I didn’t realize how overloaded and fragile I’d become from my intense schedule until the following happened.
After sitting in the airport for over two hours, 20 minutes before my flight was supposed to board, they announced the flight had been canceled because of problems with the plane and they didn’t have another plane to replace it. I quickly took out my itinerary and called Expedia whom my client had used to book the flight. The woman who answered was cold, monotone and clearly following a script. She gave me some crap about what she couldn’t do because of how the flight was booked and BLAH BLAH BLAH. She told me I had to go to the customer service desk for the airline.
By the time I located customer service the line was at least 100 people deep and not moving. It was then that someone announced that there were no available flights to Chicago and that we’d have to make overnight accommodations after booking another flight. I began shaking, my eyes began to tear up and all of the sounds in the airport became louder and the lights became brighter as I contemplated having to stand in this 100 person line for an undetermined amount of time in the hope of getting home. I was beginning to shut down which was making it hard to think and hard to speak, I couldn’t think of what to do.
So I did what I encourage every other spectrumite to do in a situation like that. I called for help. Who did I call? My wife Cathy. I explained in my very shaky voice what was happening and how much difficulty I was having even thinking. My darling wife Cathy who is a greater gift from God each day that I’m with her, remained very calm and guided me step by step in what to do.
She told me to look for one of the people that transports those with special needs around the airport. I saw one and slowly walked over because I was so shaky I felt my legs were going to give out. Cathy coached me on what to say because I was having difficult getting my thoughts together. I think I said something like, “I have Autism and they canceled my flight and said they don’t have anymore flights and I need to get home.”
The woman I asked for help is named Shawn and she gently took my bags and told me to sit down in her tramcar because she could hear the tremble in my voice and could see how badly I was shaking. She took my itinerary, asked me a few questions and said she knew someone that could help.
I sat bent forward, doing some stimming as Shawn navigated her tramcar through a sea of people as Cathy continued to talk to me and keep me calm. When we stopped Shawn asked if I needed anything and I said, No. She said she was going to talk to someone about helping me and she’d be right back. It seemed like an eternity and Cathy kept talking to me. Shawn came back with a gentleman right behind her who handed her a boarding pass with my name on it for a flight that would be leaving an hour and a half later than my original flight was supposed to.
When there were no flights to be had until tomorrow, Shawn knew I needed a solution. Shawn asked her supervisor Dale for help. He got me a seat on what I later learned was an overbooked flight. When we were seated I was surprised to discover that my seat was in the fourth row so I would be one of the first people off the plane.
I am now home sitting on my own coach as I write this to you in order to convey one simple truth to my fellow Spectrumites that you must never, ever forget. There is absolutely no value in going through your life stubbornly refusing to ask others for help. I was seconds away from a full blown meltdown at the airport so I called my wife Cathy who helped me find Shawn. Shawn led me to Dale who helped Shawn help me.
I am sitting here so grateful and humbled to my core by how generously and tenderly I was taken care of today by my soul mate and two complete strangers. Thank you doesn’t even describe it but I’ll say it. Thank You Shawn and Dale at the Philadelphia Airport, you did your employer U.S. Airways a tremendous honor by how you conducted yourselves today.
To my wife Cathy, I will continue to treat you like the gift you are until my last breath. To my fellow Spectrumites, as often as I use my own life as an example of who we can be at our strongest – I also want to use my life to demonstrate how absolutely necessary it is to have others in your life who are prepared to help you in your most vulerable moments. Needing these people isn’t a sign of weakness so get that pile of crap from between your ears right now. It is never a sign of weakness, it never was and it never will be. It is, and always will be the precious gift of service that human beings give to each other.
I am so eternally grateful to those who helped me today, and I hope my sharing this has helped you. Please share this with others.
Brian R. King, LCSW (ADHD & ASD Life Coach) is a #1 Best Selling Author, 25-year cancer survivor, adult with Dyslexia, ADHD, and Asperger’s. He’s also the father of three sons on the autism spectrum. He is known worldwide for his books and highly engaging presentations that teach the power of connection and collaboration. His strategies empower others to overcome their differences so they can build powerful and lasting partnerships. His motto is: We’re all in this together.