Just Run With It

I used to go to the gym a while back.

When I could take Jonah to the gym with me and he would be fine in childcare for a couple hours, happy as a clam.

Then, about September last year, Jonah began hitting other kids while in childcare at the gym, pushing over toddlers and babies and generally getting himself (and me) kicked out after about 15 minutes.

And eventually I just lost motivation. Jonah’s sleep pattern was regressing. I was getting less and less sleep at night. I was not even guaranteed a 20-minute workout with Jonah’s behavior.

Then came Jonah’s diagnosis in late November/early December last year, and everything mentally and emotionally that went along with it. Eventually, I quit even trying to exercise altogether. It was just too much.

After about 7 months, Jonah has finally started behaving around the other kids. And I am really proud of him. I have started to try going back to the gym but it gets frustrating when you have to start over. It is still tough to get motivated. The lack of sleep hasn’t changed much and the motivation has not fully returned.

So why do I bother? Why do I try?

Because Jonah is a runner.

Whenever Jonah is anxious, he runs. Wherever there is room, he runs.

He runs laps. If there is only a small room, he will blaze a trail back and forth across the same 10-foot swath of carpet. Back and Forth. He can go for hours. The other day we did a mile and a half around the mall.

There will come a day when Jonah will run and I won’t be able to keep up. And that scares me to death.

That is why I run.

I received an email recently from a father who’s son is autistic and also runs. He is actually the father of autistic TWINS who both run.

Granted, they are now grown (25 years old), but they are still running. And they are turning heads. They have been for years.

Alex and Jamie Schneider are 25-year-old identical twins who are severely affected by autism. Yet, their accomplishments as runners has brought them international attention.

Alex and Jamie Schneider have run in multiple marathons including the NYC and Boston marathons. Alex even runs 50K ultramarathons.

They have been featured on ESPN, ABC’s Good Morning America, World News Tonight and The New York Times.

Yet, they are profoundly autistic.  Neither one of them can communicate verbally, with the exception of simple words, most of which are understood only by those who know them.

Here is an excerpt written by their mother Robyn Schneider from their website:

“Their coaches must direct them through the course, hydrate them when they are thirsty, watch for hazardous street crossings, and remove articles of clothing when overheated. Neither of them ever knows how long each race is; they just run as fast as they can until they reach the finish line. Running is the number one activity for us as a family. And with all this, it is Alex and Jamie who have inspired us.  Since Alex and Jamie became runners, Allan and I [their parents] started running as well.  Once I began, I continued while undergoing treatment for breast cancer.  It became additive for me; running was an emotional and physical necessity for my recovery.  Allan, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, an affliction that oftentimes makes running painful for him, decided the benefits outweigh the negatives, so he started running too.”

Here is a clip of Alex crossing the finish line of his 16th marathon. He had won.

Alex Schneider is severely autistic, non-verbal and has extreme behaviors, but he can run super fast! He has run 16 marathons to date; and he just set a new personal record of 2:56:20!! His story is featured in the book Silent Running-Our Family’s Journey to the Finish Line with Autism!

You can find their book at www.triumphbooks.com/silentrunning

Why do I run? Because, when I look at Alex or Jamie Schneider, I see Jonah.

Jonah is just “a runner.” And I think he always will be.

And seeing how “running a marathon” is on my bucket list, I will probably end up running one with him.

And I’m gonna need as much prep time as I can get.

Jason Reynolds
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Jason Reynolds

Jason is a freelance photographer and graphic designer. He is also a parent of Jonny (9) and Jonah (4) who was diagnosed with Autism in December 2016.
Jason Reynolds
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