• autism,  cross-country,  high school,  teen years,  track

    Still behind, but still moving forward

    Wednesday afternoon before track practice, a reporter and a photographer from the local paper met with J to ask him a few questions and take a few pictures for a story featuring J, his autism, and his running experience. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. J’s not much of a talker–at least a talker that stays on topic. J and the reporter met for about 20 minutes and it was a bit of a struggle–J couldn’t give him any great quotes to use for his story–but boy, J is a million times better at small talk than he used to be. I don’t get to watch him…

  • autism,  cross-country,  high school,  teen years

    Measurable Success

    Even though J’s XC season is over, he’s had a lot of XC excitement this weekend. Saturday we were able to head out to Jamestown to cheer on the State runners (J’s high school came in 5th at the State level!!!) and yesterday the team had their recognition reception. I always come out of J’s XC recognition reception a little overwhelmed emotionally. I’m not saying that I’m feeling a million different emotions, I’m just feeling a lot of big emotions. I think the biggest feeling I came out with was that of gratitude. I’m so grateful for the kids on J’s team. I’m so grateful for the coaches that mentor…

  • autism,  cross-country,  high school,  teen years

    My kids get more than 17 seconds

    This weekend Steve introduced the kids to one of the most inspirational sports movies of all time–Rudy–and while they both really enjoyed it, W was a little confused as to why Rudy, who had worked so hard at school and at practice, wasn’t ever able to play in a game until the last college game of his senior year. And even then he only got to play for 17 seconds. 17 seconds. After all of the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears of every single practice, Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger  only got to actually play 17 seconds of a real game of college football. After all of the heart and sweat our…

  • autism,  cross-country,  high school,  teen years

    Support Squad

    I talk a lot about J’s XC team and the amazing boys and coaches he gets to hang out with every day. I haven’t really talked about the parents and families of the kids who run XC. They’re pretty amazing too. This Saturday was EDC–where all class A schools in Eastern North Dakota run against each other. It’s a pretty big race, with lots of kids and schools (11 schools I think?). It’s also one of the biggest races for the kids hoping to go to State. The parents of both the boys and girls teams worked really hard behind the scenes to make this meet really special for the…

  • autism,  cross-country,  high school,  milestones,  social skills,  teen years

    16

    Birthdays and autism can be a really rough combination. Birthdays for kids on the spectrum can be a sensory overload circus. (I have years of videos and pictures of J covering his ears and crying at not only his birthday parties, but W’s too.). Milestone birthdays are rough on parents because it’s another one of those reminders of all of the things your kid isn’t doing. When W turned 14 in August, we threw her a masquerade murder mystery party. I even made homemade stuffed shells and bought rosemary rolls from Breadsmith and cheesecake to make the dinner part fancy schmancy. She prepped for that party almost a full month…

  • anxiety,  autism,  cross-country

    Willmar with a Side of Poutine

    At around 5:00 Saturday night J, Steve, W, and I sat in a Wendy’s in Alexandria, Minnesota. Actually Steve, W, and I sat at one table. J sat at another table, insisting he eat by himself. We weren’t going to push eating together as a family. J had cleared the two biggest hurdles that have consumed his mind since Labour Day weekend–exit 55 and 67–on the way to his Willmar, Minnesota meet and he ran a good race. We weren’t going to force him to be at the same table as a box of French fries. J has a phobia about French fries. It doesn’t permeate to all potato-related foods.…

  • autism,  cross-country,  learning strategies,  special education,  strategies

    Using the Autism Toolbox to Make XC a Little Easier

    J is the boy in the black and gold Brooks. Arms drooped around his neighbours’ backs. Pieces of masking tape bound around his fingers. The droopy arms and masking tape scream to me “autism,” although they probably don’t to you. I think that’s one of the funny things about autism. I’m always super aware of all the quirky or socially “different” parts of J that I don’t think a lot of people think twice about. J has gotten really good over the last couple of season of “looking like a XC runner.” J goes to practice all by himself now. J takes the bus to meets on his own. J…

  • anxiety,  autism,  cross-country,  motherhood

    A Tale of Two Meets

    It’s been interesting to watch the last week two weeks go down. After the Minneapolis fiasco last weekend I’ve been high alert for J’s triggers while looking back to the days leading up to that weekend, trying to understand why he just couldn’t pull through things like those two darn numbers. J had two cross country meets in the last two weeks. The first one was in Wahpeton/Breckenridge (North Dakota/Minnesota) on the Thursday before the long weekend. Historically, this meet has been one of the worst meets for J. I’m not talking worst times–I’m talking worst because of not finishing the course/having a meltdown during the race, so Steve and…

  • autism,  cross-country

    That’s evolution, folks

    A few days ago, Steve called me to the window. “You see it?” he said. “What do you think is wrong with it?” I monitored the large brown and spotted bird, sitting perched on a short trellis in our neighbour’s flower garden, for a few minutes. “It’s one of those sparrowhawks,” I said. I hate sparrowhawks. We’ve lived in our house for 10 years now and every August the sparrowhawks show up to terrorize the song birds, squirrels, and rabbits in our yard. I’ll never forget a four-year-old W, shrieking and pointing at the very same window where Steve and I now stood, a hundred white feathers floating in the…

  • autism,  cross-country,  exercise,  high school,  milestones,  teen years,  track

    A New Label

      J’s met with a lot of new people this month–a new orthopedic doctor, new trainers in his weight training class, new therapists at the eye doctor. And in almost every conversation he’s had, one of the first things out of J’s mouth? “I’m a runner.” J has never identified himself with another label besides his name, so to hear him describe himself in a conversation as a runner? I was shocked, and elated, and little emotional. It’s been amazing to see J’s growth both emotionally and physically with this running journey. It’s like every few months, he becomes a new kid. And once again, this week, I got to…