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Long Island Twins With Autism Prepare To Set The Pace In This Years NYC Marathon
The Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT) sponsored Twins with autism are training to set the pace for the 2013 ING New York City Marathon. The twin’s mother, Robyn Schneider, says running has completely changed the family dynamic.
By: Omni Publicity
The twin’s mother, Robyn, says running has completely changed the family dynamic. Like any parent, Robyn and Allan Schneider were utterly devastated by the autism diagnosis. Robyn said it was like a switch flipped in her head. At that very second she chose to forgo her promising career to help her sons.
The Schneiders quickly became dissatisfied with the quality of schools and programs available to their boys after years of trying literally every option. They took a chance and joined with four other families to open Eden II Genesis School, a program specifically designed for children and young adults with autism. Perspective directors were interviewed in Robyn’s living room. Mary McDonald – the current President of Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT) – was hired as the school’s first director. They remain close friends to this day. Their gamble paid off. What started out as a two room school quickly grew. Today the Genesis School is a thriving educational program and provides consultation services to over 30 school districts throughout Long Island.
The twins have always had boundless energy. At the encouragement of the boy’s therapist, current ASAT board member, and long time friend, Ruth Donlin, Robyn and her husband Allan actively searched out mainstream sporting activities that would burn off some of the boy’s extra vigor. They focused their attention on local sports so that the brothers could enjoy the additional benefit of being more involved in their community. The boys participated in basketball, horseback riding, and swimming. However none of these activities captivated their interest the way running did. At 15-years-old, they fell in love with running and haven’t stopped.
From the onset, Robyn and Allan were both content to be observers as experienced trainers ran with their boys. It wasn’t until Jamie returned from a run with bloody hands and knees – the result of a tantrum ending in an intentional fall – that Robyn and Allan realized they needed to make a decision. Both she and her husband were going to start running or the boys were going to stop. Robyn said it was one of the easiest decisions she has ever had to make as a mother.
Although mom and dad can’t keep up with Alex and must still depend on trainers, running has become an integral part of the family’s everyday lives. The excitement in the air at the Schneider’s home on a running day is palpable. They’ve been training every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for nearly eight years. The constant repetition of the schedule has set the twin’s internal alarm clocks so they know when it’s a training day. Hours before the Schneiders are scheduled to run Alex rummages through dressers and closets gathering everyone’s running gear. He methodically lays out everything out. Robyn and Allan take particular enjoyment from the way Alex arranges the running shoes. He positions the shoes in an obtuse u-shape configuration with the laces pulled straight back. Invariably, Alex arranges the shoes in the exact sequence of who will cross the finish line first.
Alex is the faster of the brothers. He runs a 5:25 minute mile and is on pace to run a 3:15 marathon in November. He consistently finishes in the top tier of his group. No one is quite sure how fast Alex can truly run. His trainers strain to keep up with Alex’s seemingly endless endurance. Because Alex cannot express discomfort, the Schneiders approach his training very cautiously. They rely on veteran runners to monitor Alex during his training and racing. The ING New York City Marathon will be unique for Alex in that he’ll be running with three trainers during the race. Two will start the race with Alex with a third joining the group around the six mile mark. The trainers believe that a fresh runner jumping in at a later interval will give Alex the best chance to secure a top finish in this iconic race.
Jamie is a competitor, but is not as fast as his brother. He enjoys running in a pack of young adults his own age. Although he can’t speak, Jamie’s parents can tell by his demeanor that he’s enjoying the company of fellow runners. But there is more to it than just that. Jamie’s training has been severely hampered by the events surrounding last year’s Boston Marathon. He was able to sense the horrible tragedy that occurred on that fateful day and some how linked these bad feelings to running. He often has emotional breakdowns when the family heads out to run. It has been a struggle for the Schniders to get Jamie completely back into the groove of running.
The Schneiders hope that Alex and Jamie accomplishments will provide the inspiration for others to celebrate their challenges – and to prove to them that their triumphs can be far greater than their disabilities!
Neither Robyn or Allan are ones to sit back and reflect, but they both admit they’ll have trouble keeping their emotions in check watching their boys cross the finish line in this year’s ING New York City Marathon. It’s been a bumpy road with the boys and also with their own health. Robyn is a breast cancer survivor and Allan suffers from Multiple Sclerosis. Yet with all the challenges they’ve had to overcome and still face, nothing could possibly override the joy and pride that they will feel watching their boys dig deep within themselves to excel and overcome their own challenges in the world’s most famous race.
Please take a look at Alex and Jamie’s website: http://www.autismrunners.com
For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact:
Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT):
Page Updated Last on: Oct 25, 2013