The Trigger Effect

I want to state unequivocally that if I could get by with it, I’d only ride on the passenger side in the car. I can’t do that since a car won’t run without someone behind the wheel and I don’t have anyone to take my place. Taxis are out of the question since their drivers don’t drive for just a dime. Whenever my 81-year-old Mom is riding with me, I con her into driving.  It doesn’t take much convincing since she has had some breath-taking moments with me behind the wheel.

Driving is something I struggle with and based on my web research on driving and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), I am in the majority among my fellow Spectrum travelers.  That’s not to say that there aren’t those who have ASD who are good drivers who haven’t had to use their auto insurance except when it was someone else’s fault. My record of accidents, or lack of them, has improved in the past decade, but in my younger years, an insurance company divorced me over a couple of fender bends in a course of a couple of months.  When I discovered I was on the Spectrum near the end of 2016, it explained a lot of things, including why driving felt like performing an acrobatic act with one hand tied behind my back.

I assume a good driver is focused on what’s ahead, what’s coming up the rear, and the side attractions. Focusing on multiple things at one time is beyond me. I assume a good driver can react at the twinkling of an eye to make the right move whether it be to speed up, slow down, turn left or right, brake, etc.  My brain thinks but not that fast! I need time to process before I can react and driving doesn’t afford me that luxury.

I have so often gotten discouraged when I have had an accident or came awfully close to one. Not long ago, I almost had an accident backing up in a parking lot at a park. The “backing up” is one of my driving weaknesses.  After the adrenaline rush, I was relieved but kicking myself for not looking at my rearview camera that displays on my dashboard.  I am often in my own world as I go for a walk.  On that day although I had finished walking, I was still wrapped up in that world. I was just sick about it even though there was no accident. I feared I might not get off next time and I didn’t want there to be another time.

One of my Autism traits that come in handy is thinking outside the box. So I put my noggin to work on finding something that could trigger me to look at the camera as well as looking to my left and right when backing up. The buzzer that goes off when the rear camera display comes on isn’t sufficient to be the trigger mechanism.  I needed something stronger!  After considerable analysis, I came up with an idea.

This may seem like an awfully strange idea, but I was willing to try just about anything.  At a dollar store, I purchased a car deodorizer. This particular one is a clip that hangs on my steering wheel. Whenever I get in the car, I have the reminders of the smell of the deodorizer, the sight of the clip in front of me, and the touch of the clip deodorizer as it slides around on my steering wheel.

How’s it working?  My camera display has become a familiar sight to me because I am looking at it more when it comes on.  That was what I was hoping for.  My “sensory” reminder isn’t a guarantee and I didn’t expect it to be. There’s still the possibility I will still forget to check my surroundings before backing up, but I’ve improved the odds by having the trigger effect of my senses of sight, sound, and smell in a clip to click back my mind to the driver’s seat.

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