Recently, my young son expressed an interest in participating in a highly competitive track meet. The best students from across the city were going to gather for a big event and close to one thousand runners would fill the stadium with noise and frenetic energy. Although Michael has autism he is a very capable young athlete who has enjoyed success against his peers. We both agreed he was ready for the challenge. As the track meet approached I noticed that he was becoming increasingly anxious. Soon, with any mention of the track meet, his tears would start to flow. No amount of calming or reassuring words could alleviate his anxiety. He decided not to participate – this was something that I fully supported – and Michael’s sense of relief was almost palpable. I could not easily explain his change of heart. After a few days of gentle questioning I discovered that Michael was anxious about the length of the university track (400m) and his belief that it was much bigger than the track we practice on (also 400m). He had allowed this belief to undermine his confidence.
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