On Saturday I participated in the Ribbon Run for Autism. I have found myself fascinated with Autism and I can't seem to read enough about it. I'm even tempted... only tempted... to read Jenny McCarthy's book on the subject. I haven't been this obsessed with something since 1991, when I too, tried to prove the "Magic Bullet" theory just didn't hold up in JFK's assassination. I had just seen Oliver Stone's movie JFK and I seriously became mesmerized by the possibility there was a little bit more to JFK's death than we knew.
Similarly, I am convinced there is more to Autism than we actually know and I am determined to figure this all out. This Spectrum Disorder covers so many characteristics...so many tendencies. Its been interesting to observe the differences in children with this disease in my own classroom. Some of my students stim, walk on their toes, yell out, are effected by loud noises, draw detailed pictures and maps, play alone, prefer writing center to Lego center, etc. This list could go on, but what appeals to me is that not one student with Autism is the same. Its my job to learn all that I can about this disease and find the commonalities to become a better teacher. Autism Spectrum Disorder is the second most common developmental disability and affects 1 of every 166 children born today.
And so... to show my support, my love, and my infatuation with Autism I decided to run on Saturday. What you don't know about me is that I don't run. I have a gym membership, but its basically just another bill. I am so far from athletic it hurts. I spend most of my time sedentary (hence why I started this blog) except when I walk my dog...and that's only 'cause she makes me. However, I was up and ready to go Saturday morning. I woke up at 7:30 and put on the sports bra (from college, which no longer does its job) and dug through the drawer to find sneaker socks. I proudly put on my Ribbon Run t-shirt and black "work-out" pants (aka "I'm not leaving the house today, lounge pants"). I filled my water bottle (they gave me one when I registered, otherwise I wouldn't of had one) and headed out to show my support.
At 9:00 we lined up at the starting line and somewhere off in the distance someone yelled, "GO!" and I was trampled. I found myself in a sea of real runners and I was at the back of the herd. I pushed myself to run and I made it one block (it was a 5k) before I seriously began thinking, "I could cheat. If I just turn here I could cut everyone off and everyone would think I was way ahead." Instead, I decided to run a block and walk a block and not worry about how silly I looked or how out of shape I am, and I reminded myself why I was there in the first place. Maybe it was those thoughts that got me to the finish line, or maybe it was knowing that there were bananas and bagels at the end that got me there...either way, I made it.
After crossing the finish line I began to search for the people who I originally came to the run with. They had all finished ahead of me. I was walking around the park over mulch and thick grass and just as I saw my colleagues, my right ankle twisted and I was in pain. It wasn't the run/walk that injured me. The race was over. My injury came only from my own klutziness, my nonathletic self.
Today, I am no longer an Autism activist. I am now racing for the cure for the twisted ankle. Meet me downtown this weekend for the "Ace Bandage Run." You'll get a bagel when its over.
(by the way, I'm number 458 in the pic above)
Book reccommendation: Look Me In the Eye
by: John Elder Robison