• anxiety,  autism,  mental health,  track

    Sometimes you don’t deserve a Gatorade

    When I saw J writing the word “unicorn” over and over in the air as he ran each lap of his 1600 m race last week I wasn’t happy. I know most spectators didn’t catch J’s “air cursive,” but Steve and I sure did. What most spectators saw was J smiling and laughing each time he rounded the track. It looked like he was having a good time. And that was the problem. J was having a good time–not being a part of the race. I’m sure if anyone heard me chew out J post-race and tell him he didn’t earn his Gatorade (which he ALWAYS does after a race)…

  • 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…

  • autism,  cross-country,  exercise,  family,  milestones,  track

    Born to run

    I don’t know how he does it, but without fail, when J starts a new season of XC, track, or runs a race in the Fargo Marathon, he takes off minutes–MINUTES off of his PR from the previous season.  This weekend was the Fargo Marathon and J took off 1:39 off of his 5K time and 3:21 off of his 10K time. And Steve and I were totally shocked at how much improvement he’s made from last year’s 2017 5 and 10K races. J’s been running XC and track for three years now. He’s a conditioned runner and those dramatic reductions in time should start to wane and finally plateau. But…

  • autism,  motherhood,  teen years,  track

    Growth Spurts and that Growing Village

    Sometimes a lot of good things happen all at the same time. This week was one of those weeks. Monday–Track Meet #1: J PRd the heck out of his mile: By almost 30 seconds! J’s mile time was 7:03. Last year’s PR for that same event? 7:32. When J first started this whole XC/Track business? 13 min miles. That’s growth, folks! Running with a stronger pack: Monday’s meet was a really small meet (3 schools) which meant that there was going to be only 1 heat for the 1600m. I was super nervous about this, because that meant he was going to be running with the fast kids. Yes, he…

  • autism,  high school,  track

    You Just Never Know

    In honour of celebrating Autism Awareness Month, we’ve been living this week in typical (unpredictable) autism fashion. Here’s a little recap of how this week totally threw us for some unexpected surprises. Sunday: Our good friends invited us over for Easter lunch, and it was the most entertaining, heartwarming lunch I’ve had in a long time. J got to meet my friend’s new dog Tucker. Fred really did work some miracles for J when it comes to dog interactions. Fred taught J about “dog bubbles” (like “you don’t run up to a dog and give it hugs” and “you give it time to get to know you”). Fred taught J how…

  • autism,  high school,  teen years,  track

    Little-big things

    Little things are always big things when it comes to autism and though we’ve had a pretty low-key week, it was still filled with lots of little-big things. Here’s this week’s list of top 3 little-big things (in no particular order): Little-big thing #1: Varsity kids. J had his second track meet of the season this Saturday and despite his awesome performance last week, he still has a lot of little things to figure out. Last Saturday he missed his warm-up and cool down, and was a little confused on the new number system. (In middle school, his number was written on his hand. In high school, he gets two…

  • autism,  teen years,  track

    3.30.35

    When they called the fourth heat of the 800 metre race to line up, I looked over at a few of J’s XC teammates, who had also congregated on the sideline, and said, “Yeah, I’m pretty nervous about this.” “Yeah, we’re nervous too. But he’ll do great. He’s been getting so fast lately.” Then the official called the boys to line up by numerical order. Of course, this is J’s first high school track meet–first indoor track meet, for that matter. In middle school, he ran with kids from his team and so J always had someone who knew him (and knew he had autism) help him line up. But…

  • autism,  high school,  mental health,  motherhood,  track

    Navel Strings

    I am not a helicopter mother by choice. I really, really believe that it’s healthy for kids (and parents) to have their space. Kids need to step out in the world on their own, get their hands dirty, make mistakes, learn by trial and error. It’s essential in developing self esteem, innovation, confidence, social skills, negotiation skills and more. Of course parents should be there in guiding kids away from harmful dangers, enhancing moments of learning and growth, but I really feel that kids learn best when they feel trusted–trusted to succeed and trusted to make mistakes. I just can’t do that with J. There are so many strings attached with…

  • autism,  family,  middle school,  motherhood,  siblings and autism,  teen years,  track

    A little track family

    W wasn’t so sure if she wanted to join track this season. She had reasons. I think the biggest reason was the one she didn’t bring up when we all sat down at dinner and talked about it. J and I had gone to the first practice that afternoon, but W had decided to stay home. I told her that everyone had asked me where she was, and told everyone that she was still thinking about coming out. “I don’t know, I’m busy,” she said. “And I really liked XC. Track just isn’t the same.” (This is coming from the girl who has never tried track before). “You can do both,”…

  • autism,  cross-country,  exercise,  family,  middle school,  motherhood,  track

    The 10K Gamble and Learning to Trust J

    The Fargo Marathon is a pretty big deal around here. It’s a Boston Qualifier, and a really appealing one at that (Fargo is a really REALLY flat course and the weather is usually decent). There are races all week long for whatever floats your boat: dog runs, kid runs, the 5K and then marathon day which includes the 10K, half marathon, marathon relay, and marathon. The city gets really into it. The neighbourhoods do too–live bands play music to help rally the runners, people bring out orange slices to you, there are posters everywhere and hundreds of perfect strangers are cheering you on. It’s a really cool experience. This year my…