Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Autism: Running the race for our kids

Autism: Running the race for our kids

Autism: Running the race for our kids

Last night I watched a u-tube video that inspired both my blog’s today. It was of a man who enters into a triathalon race with his cerebal palsy son – team hoyt. It touched me on many levels. This man places his son in a special chair and begins the grueling first part of the race. Loading his son gently into a boat, ties a rope around his waist and tows the boat into the sea . In the distance you can just make out the rest of the competitors, miles ahead. The son flaps feebly in the boat, obviously suffering in the grueling heat of the day but his father continues on in grim determination, carving a path in the deep green water. As the father and son begin the next leg of the race, cycling, he tenderly strokes his son’s cheek and looks deep into his eyes.

 No words are needed. “Are you OK to go on Son? Am I pushing you too far?” his eyes say despite the river of perspiration running down his back and legs. His son looks to him in adoration and complete trust “Its OK Dad. I can do this” he answers wordlessly. Without another pause his father begins the long cycling stretch. Pain is etched across his face like some invisible knife has carved chunks of new wrought wrinkles into his skin. His muscles bulge and stretch and writhe like some beast under his skin with a mind of its own. The sun has long set, not another competitor for miles, but still he pushes on and on. On to the third stretch of the race – running. His fatigue obvious with the slump of his shoulders and the mask of grimace as he continues to beat out yet  another mile. The father and the son. United as one. Finally in the dark, the finish line comes in site – crowds patiently lining and cheering on the sidelines. His son’s arms silently pump the air in victory.


As parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders we are running a race with our children. Like this father we are placing our children in the wheelchairs of our time, our patience and our love. Each visit to yet another specialist, each piece of information we learn, each new therapy we try is pushing our children through the grueling miles of our own marathon. It is no good standing at the shoreline when we reach the sea, complaining that it is too hard… that it is too far. It is no good looking at the disappearing competitors in the distance and feeling like we have failed in our race. No, it is a different race we are in. So, we gently pick up our children and place them in the boat and dive in to the deep green sea. Each deliberate stroke of our arms signifying our determination and commitment to see our children succeed. To get fair treatment. To be accepted and understood.

 To not let their disability stop them. There we are, ahead of the boat, carving a way for them. Don’t think for one moment that it is easier for them than it is for us. The sun of rejection, and misunderstanding beats down on their exhausted pale limbs. But our children are just as determined. Through our love and dedication we give them the confidence to say “Its OK Mum, its OK Dad. I can do this”. So as we go through the last long stretch of our race, one more mile of meltdowns, one more mile of frustration with people who don’t understand autism, know its OK to feel tired. Its OK to slump in exhaustion and frustration. But we keep pedaling. The finish line is in sight lined with the cheering crowds who have come to see our son pump his arms in victory. A race he will win in his own terms, in his own way, in his own time. But win he will if we can believe in him enough to do the hard miles. If we teach him to say “I CAN”.

All statements made on this website are for informational and educational purposes only.  We believe all statements are factual.  However, they are the individual experiences of each author(s) and are not warranted.  All sources are referenced when possible.  This information is not intended to treat or diagnose any disease or illness – It is simply mothers sharing what treatments worked or didn’t work to help their child’s autism.  We believe all children with autism are unique individuals and should be treated as such.  Therefore, no two children will respond to the same treatments the same way.  All health concerns including, but not limited to, starting or stopping any medication or supplementation should be addressed with a doctor or other appropriate health professional.


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