Tag Archives: friends

World Autism Awareness Day

2 Apr

Today is World Autism Awareness Day.  This is the day to reflect on people of all ages who are touched by autism.  Wherever they happen to be on the spectrum – whether they are verbal or not, high- or low-functioning – they are important members of society.  They deserve love, respect, admiration for all they have to live with and overcome, and opportunities.  Autism manifests in countless ways.  There are probably as many forms of autism as there are autistic people.  Some auties talk, some don’t.  Some have enough capacity for academic learning to complete high school and go to university, some don’t.  There are auties who are brilliant artists, some who are mathematical whiz-kids, photographers, musicians.  Some become famous.  Some don’t become famous, but manage nevertheless to carve niches for themselves in the communities in which they live.

We had a very good World Autism Awareness Day.  It started with George requesting and wearing a pair of shorts instead of the long pants I had selected for him.  Traditionally, George has a hard time with the transition of seasons.  If he’s used to wearing winter clothing, he doesn’t want summer clothing.  If he is used to shorts and T-shirts, he will not wear winter clothing until he has experienced the freezing cold weather for himself.  So the fact that he transitioned so seamlessly into summer clothing is a big deal indeed.

Once we were all dressed and ready for the day, me, my mother-in-law, and my friend Fran sat at the kitchen table chatting and having a lazy morning.  James was playing with his cars, George was wandering around the room, not really doing anything.  Gradually, we became aware that he was counting while he was wandering.  So far, not really a big deal.  For a long time, George has been rote counting, and even doing mathematical sums, but it’s never really been applied to the real world.  This morning, however, we realized that there was a purpose to his counting.  He was counting how many chairs were in the room, how many tables, how many cups were on the table.  Instead of rote counting, he was counting groups of objects.  He was using the concept of counting for something real.

While I was still celebrating this very meaningful accomplishment, George paused his constant activity to tug at my sleeve.  “Let’s sing O Canada”, he said.  And he started singing our national anthem.  Admittedly, he wasn’t word-perfect, but he did really well for a six-year-old, especially one with autism and limited verbal skills.  He sang sweetly, with lots of heart.  He made me proud to be Canadian, and proud to be his Mom.

Later in the day, we went to the park.  I sat on a bench watching my boys running and playing, I pushed them on a swing and showed James how to go down the fireman’s pole.  I laughed as James grabbed a handful of leaves and dumped them over George’s head, and I smiled when they insisted on holding hands with each other for the walk home.  It was a perfect brotherly moment for the two boys.

And so I wrap up a wonderful day, and I prepare for tomorrow’s 10km race.  I am eagerly looking forward to the race.  It will be a significant and exciting step in my quest to run for autism.

Thank you for being there

1 Apr

Every now and then I have a run that is so great that I do a happy dance at the end of it.  I mean that quite literally – I stand in my driveway and do this weird little hoppity-hop thing that I’m sure makes the neighbours more than a little perplexed.  I had been looking forward to this yesterday’s run since the weekend.  I am currently enjoying some time off from work, so instead of dragging myself out into the dark at 5:00 a.m. yesterday, I was able to wake up at my leisure, get the kids safely off to their respective places, and hit the road at about 9:00 a.m.

I woke up feeling a little rough.  Although I had a reasonable amount of sleep the previous night – meaning I got more than six hours – half the night was spent on the sleeper couch with James, who had woken up feeling lonely (quick diversion: I want my kids to know that they can come to me at any time of the day or night. There are people who believe co-sleeping with their children is a Very Bad Thing.  I am not one of these people).  Here’s the thing about the sleeper couch: it ruins my back.  When I sleep there I wake up feeling as if someone has spent the night pounding on the back of my neck with a rubber mallet.  However, I was determined to go running – I am a bit weird that way, once went for an eight-kilometre run with a sprained ankle – so I did some stretches, laced up my shoes and went out.

It was only 5km, but it was a really fantastic run.  For the first time since returning from my illness/injury, I actually beat my virtual partner.  Maybe I should explain the virtual partner.  A few months ago I upgraded my training watch to one that has GPS.  The new training watch has a feature that allows you to set a target pace per kilometre, and throughout the run you can visually see how you’re performing compared with the target pace.  The virtual partner “runs” at the target pace.  Since recovering from my illness I have been consistently running fifteen to thirty seconds per kilometre behind the virtual partner.  I have been OK with that – I have, after all, been in recovery mode.  Today, though, I finished my run several seconds ahead of pace.  The psychological boost I felt from that was tremendous.

Yesterday’s run was part of what is turning out to be a phenomenal week.  On Tuesday, I had my first consultation with Brandon, my holistic lifestyle coach.  Under his guidance, I am going to take steps to get my life in balance.  It will have a positive impact on all areas of my life – parenting, running, work, my relationship with Gerard.  I feel as if I have entered a new positive phase of my life.  I also have a maid of honour for my wedding!  There are no words to describe how amazing my friend Michelle is.  What started as a simple car-pooling arrangement has turned into a deep friendship, and it will truly be an honour to have her standing beside me when I get married.  My friend Jenny also deserves a special mention.  She has been my best friend since we were both ten.  She has put up with all kinds of crap from me, seen me through some very intense crises, and just been there for me no matter what.  The fact that she lives on the other side of the world to me has not lessened our friendship one bit.  And because distance will prevent her from being here for my wedding in person, I know that she will be here in every other sense.  She will be as involved as she can be in the planning of the wedding – thanks to the joys of the Internet.

Yesterday I went to the airport to pick up my friend Fran.  Fran is a South African who moved to Vancouver (well, an hour outside of Vancouver) a few months ago.  I have known her for years, and have not seen her for a long time.  She is staying with me for a few days: we are planning to hang out, relax, have fun, go running together (even a race on Saturday!), and gossip about people we both used to spend a lot of time with.

In talking about these people – my family, my friends, people like Brandon who are helping me in a professional capacity – I realize just how blessed I am.  I am surrounded by really incredible people.  I am very lucky, and I hope I can always remember that when things get rough.  And I want to say to these people – Gerard, my boys, my Mom, my late Dad, my biological parents who did such an amazing unselfish thing to give me a better life forty years ago, my wonderful, wonderful friends, everyone who touches my life in such a special way – thank you for being you.  Thank you for being there.