by Lisa Ackerman
“You say you are too busy to exercise, so prepare to schedule a lot of time being sick” Chef LaLa
This quote captures an important topic: the parents of special needs children. Parents of children with autism and their families work extremely hard to get what their child needs from educational services, behavioral intervention, social skill training, and specialists’ appointments. They also spend time battling health insurance, and school districts, among others, just to cover the basics of what their children need often finding a huge gap between need versus. what is covered. Many of these parents are working second jobs to help make ends meet. The cost of autism is in the billions (1), but what we have not calculated is the cost of the health and well being of some parents.
As a parent of a teen with autism – I will be addressing a story for another time is a blog on our child’s health. As they become teens we need to step up their exercise and health goals. More on that later and back to you!
For the most part, parents are often focused on their child’s health. What their kids eat, removing all allergens, balancing what the body is missing with nutritional supplementation, and removing inflammation. All of these steps leave little time to be a wife or husband, and take care of the rest of the family members. Which begs the question: WHO IS TAKING CARE OF ME?
What is missing in this equation? Balance. Somehow we (parents- me… you!) fell off the priority list. We are focused on our kids from the moment we wake up to when our eyes close from exhaustion. This has to change. It changes with one step (no pun intended.) What I have found with TACA families is that if you mix getting healthy with some autism support, parents feel less guilty being away from their families.
We found a perfect way. This last May almost 200 runners, many for the first time, ran the OC half Marathon. It was quite an experience (2.)
It was my first half marathon. My time was anything but impressive. What was impressive was having taken the time to start training to extend my casual runs into longer and more frequent workouts. I watched many other TACA families do the same thing.
Some of my friends hadn’t run in years. They fondly referred to themselves as “couch potatoes”, and I cannot say I was much better. My workouts lacked focus and intensity. They barely kept me healthy.
Train4Autism (3) solved this dilemma. They understood that time was a huge issue and that perhaps we were not in our best shape. They designed workout programs that took us off the sofa from watching reality TV to being paired up in group runs at every level. Many of us walked and ran to get started. It wasn’t too long before we were running 3, 4, 8 and 10 miles.
Training was easy and each week the planned run was sent via email. Inspirational “how-to’s” were “sprinkled” in each weekly message. During one of the training weeks, Southern California was hit with a pretty big rainstorm. The trainer asked if we still wanted to meet. The resounding answer was profound. “A downpour of rain won’t stop a parent living with a child with autism.” Sure enough 20 runners ran that morning through several inches of rain and cold. We weren’t your run-of-the-mill folks, we became focused runners.
This blog post is dedicated to those of you thinking “I can’t do that!!!” because I know that if you have a child with autism you can accomplish ANYTHING and with much purpose.
Our friends at Train4Autism can help you. Any race, in any state can be dedicated to your personal training goals and help you raise funds – even for TACA’s mission and programs.
We are getting ready again in Southern California and I welcome TACA families to join us! There is a 5/10K run that is just right for us. TACA will be a big part of the San Clemente 5k/10k run benefiting Hope 4 Hanna on October 21st. For parents who are interested, we are kicking off this event on July 30, 2012 at 5pm at the TACA Office in Irvine. You can sign up via firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t be afraid, be inspired!
Don’t live in the OC and want to improve your health? NO worries. Lets us know you are interested in running and we can help you train for a 5K to a half marathon and beyond!
It is about our health. We have to be here for our kids. And Chef LaLa had it right – if we don’t address our health now, we will be paying for that decision later. We need to always be there for them. It takes a first step, let TACA help you.