On to New Heights
||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 3 to 4
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||lurched, ride-eyes, white-but, whizzed, possibility, listed, awesome, lowest, actually, especially, coaster, laughing, uncomfortable, railing, therapy, minutes
||Millennium Force, United States
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On to New Heights
By Beth Beutler
1 "No thanks," I said. "I'll wait for you down here."
2 "Suit yourself," said my friends as they took off for the line in front of the Millennium Force, one of the tallest roller coasters in the United States.
3 I sighed. I love to ride roller coasters, but lately, that has changed. The last time I was on a coaster, it stopped at the top of the hill for ten minutes. Being about 200 feet up in an open car, for ten long minutes was not fun. In fact, I began to be scared. Since then, I've noticed that I am uncomfortable in any type of "open heights" situation. I used to be able to climb up high mountain trails. I'd stand on the edge of a rock and enjoy the majestic view. I liked riding monorails, especially the open cars. I liked looking down over the railing in a tall building, like the 50 story hotel we stayed in for vacation once. It was great to look down into the lobby. Now, all that has changed.
4 I sat on a bench and looked up at the roller coaster. It was supposed to be awesome. There was a long line, so I sat there a long time while my friends waited to go. During my wait, I got to thinking about my fear of heights.
5 We had learned a little bit about acrophobia in school last year. Acrophobia is a fancy name for the fear of heights. A lot of people suffer from this. However, there are things you can do to get over it. I went back over some of the ideas we had learned. The main technique was called "graded exposure therapy."
6 "Graded exposure therapy" is pretty simple. I began to make a list in my head of places that made me feel scared. I listed roller coasters, monorails, and tall buildings. Then, I sorted the list in the order of the smallest place. The best thing for me to do next would be to go to the first (and lowest) height, then stay there while I tried to remain calm. As I got used to that situation, I could move to the next item on my list. How could I begin that today? I know the process could take me weeks, or months, but perhaps I could conquer one type of height at this park.
7 I figured that perhaps I could choose a small roller coaster to go on—one that was not nearly as high as the Millennium Force. Then, if it stopped, I could try to stay calm by breathing deeply and thinking logically about the safety features and low possibility of the car falling off the track.
8 Pretty soon, my group of friends came toward me, laughing and slapping each other on the back.
9 "Oh, man, you missed it," they said. "It was awesome."
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