The words “Don’t Panic” will be immediately recognizable to fans of Douglas Adams and his Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series. They are inscribed on the book’s cover as a reminder to stay calm in an infinite and incomprehensible universe. As I go through the myriad permutations and ramifications of my son’s autism I also find them appropriate. Autism is also incomprehensible, and the research and work I need to do seems infinite.

I generally shy away from negative reinforcers like “don’t” but in this case I find it calming. The words “don’t panic” remind me of the books, which always bring a smile to my face. When I think of the size and variety in our universe I am always reassured that there is plenty of room for my son.

Panic always makes things worse. I find this to be the truest generalization I have ever uttered. Panic increases tension and pushes us into fight or flight. In a world where we had to run from predators that was great! However, when my son is on high alert the last thing I need is to go into fight or flight myself.

Deep breath. Force a smile. Relax shoulders and think “don’t panic.” It helps. Trust me. I know.