AUTISM AND RUNNING 2.0 [Last year on April 14, 2016 the BLOG commented on the book by Robyn Schneider, about her running twins, “Silent Running”.]
Although April, Autism Awareness Month, has ended, Earned Runs is featuring a Runner’s World article to keep some of the spotlight shining on the condition. As the school year is soon to end and vacation to start, it’s a great time to explore running opportunities that potentially can enrich and expand the lives of those with ASD.
The Runner’s World Special Report article, “For Many with Autism Running Is a Sport That Fits” by Alison Wade, highlights the experiences of several runners diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder:
Tommy Des Brisay; Ottawa, Ontario
Mikey Brannigan; East Northport NY
Jamie and Alex Schneider, Great Neck NY
Zoe Jarvis (University of Tampa)
Andrew Novis; Medford MA
Grace Ling (Santa Clara University)
Their different stories reflect how differently the condition is expressed across the spectrum. Some in this group run on college teams (Jarvis and Ling) or have Paralympic/Olympic aspirations (Des Brisay/Brannigan) and accomplishments (Brannigan). Some are non-verbal but have finished many marathons (Schneider twins). One was diagnosed much later in life, is on the Board of Directors of an autism support organization, and finished 100 marathons (Novis)
The article is hopeful but cautious in ascribing miraculous changes, in the lives of those with autism who took up running, to running. It seeks to get the word out that exercise is possibly an under-prescribed “medication” that could improve quality of life in persons with ASD. There is wonder if having the condition contributes to running success!
“Despite its benefits, no one is claiming that running is the equivalent of a magic pill that will eradicate the challenges that people with autism face. But researchers acknowledge that the use of exercise as an intervention is currently undervalued.”
Research conducted by Achilles International and New York Medical College is mentioned in the RW article. The AI mission statement says its purpose is to “enable people with all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream running events in order to promote personal achievement.” Besides programs for wounded military and veterans, it has Achilles Kids, which “provides training, race opportunities, and an in-school program for children with disabilities.”.
The Rolling Thunder Special Needs Program Inc. organization is also discussed in the article. Its website says chapters are forming across the USA, outside of the state of New York, where it was founded.
The RW Special Report is sub-tltled, “As opportunities for training and racing grow, runners and their families are seeing results they never anticipated.” It may be worth learning from these organizations how to take steps to establish a personal running program for your family or in your locale this summer, or join one that is nearby.
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BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. In 1978 I began participating in 10K road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health and longevity.
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