Tag Archives: world autism awareness day

There Will Be Hills

1 Apr

My running has been very much on again/off again throughout this winter, and it’s been causing me some degree of stress. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to run, and I have still laced up the running shoes when I’ve been able to. It’s that life has just gotten in the way lately. We have had an interesting run of illnesses in my family over the last several weeks – hopefully the cold that I have had over the last week will represent the last of the winter ailments.

Add to that the fact that it’s been winter, and the weather has been – well, crappy. Toronto had a very cold winter, resulting in thick sheets of solid ice on the sidewalks that I have wanted to avoid. There’s no point in going running when there’s a good chance of breaking a leg. So much of the running I have done has been on the treadmill. Not ideal, but it’s better than nothing. The thing is that I can only stomach the treadmill for so long. So I have done very few distance runs lately.

Brecause of this cold, I have not done any runs at all for about a week and a half. Usually I would, since the cold has been only in my head and hasn’t affected my breathing or anything below the neck. But I have erred on the side of caution because I have a race coming up tomorrow. I would rather rest and increase my chances of being well enough to participate.

And the strategy seems to have worked. Apart from a few residual sniffles, my cold is gone, and I will be able to run the race tomorrow. I’m not expecting it to be a stellar performance. It’s 8km, which I always find to be an awkward distance. It’s just too long for me to just go hell-for-leather from start to finish, but it’s too short to justify the pacing strategies that I use for longer distances. In addition, there will be hills. Lots of hills.

But still, this is a significant race. It marks the start of my 2011 racing season, and it will kick off my training for the Toronto Women’s half-marathon at the end of May. The Toronto Women’s half-marathon is a stepping stone to my main event of the year, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront half-marathon in October – my annual Run for Autism.

And that, as we all know, is the reason I run. It is my way of doing something for the autism community.

What better day to kick it all off than tomorrow: World Autism Awareness Day.

The karma of that brings a glow to my heart.

There will be hills. Every single one of them will be worth it.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bazylek/5096924747)

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.