Saturday, February 20, 2010

Friends pace or race?

So here is the dilemma. Actually it probably isn't one as such; I know what 'Most' people would say. However, not 'All' people are runners and therefore don't get the pull between my heart and well ... umm.. my heart.

I am doing a little bit of running coaching. I say 'running', I actually mean walk/run - my friends have only just started running. I also say 'coaching' in the loosest terms, I actually mean 'an excuse for my friends to buy me coffee'.

Initially this started as a trade with one of my friends. I had decided that one of my goals this year was a triathlon. I did have a little issue in that I couldn't swim. My swimming technique was more based on the 'Non-drowning/doggie paddle' stroke. Not the most successful stroke to make 500m. My friend was a competitive swimmer, so I asked her to teach me. She then decided that she wanted to do the Tri too, except she couldn't run. So a trade was struck! I also invited another friend of mine to join us and we then became a very informal training group. We are still discussing the barter for my services from my second friend. I think she may trade her husband.. (as a cycling coach I may add, before some of you get the wrong idea). :D

As an incentive for the running, I have broached the idea that we all run the local 5K in March. It's called the 'St. Paddy's Day Dash' and as you can imagine it's a very laid back affair. However, last year this was the race which caused me to develop two stress fractures in my foot, (at the 4K mark); so as you can imagine I have a few scores to settle.

So this is where the dilemma develops. I want to RUN this race and I really want to beat the time I ran last year - probably not hard as I limped the last kilometre. I ALSO want to run barefoot and stick a couple of fingers up to the running store that holds the event.

Before 'shod' runners get defensive; I am not some barefoot/minimalist purist who think all shoes are evil and should be banned. Some people can run in shoes and some people can't. I fall into the second category and I KNOW that the shoes I was sold by the running store were a factor in my stress fractures. To be fair, it wasn't the running stores' fault. No matter where I had brought the shoes, I would still have had the same problem. The issue I had; one which I later realised; is that I have effectively been a minimalist shoe person all my life. I have never once worn shoes with a heel, and the first real shoes I wore with heels were my runners. It was a disaster waiting to happen. After moving to a minimalist shoe (VFF's) and consequently barefoot running all my issues have disappeared.

Anyway, I digress. So the dilemma. I want to run this race and I want to run it in under thirty minutes. I want to run either barefoot or minimalist. However, I also want to be there for my friends. My friends have put in a lot of work, but we are still in the early stages. I want to be there for them. I want to cheer them on. I want to run every step with them. I want to cross the starting line and the finishing line with them.

I know my friends would say 'that I should run as fast as I can' and that they 'don't want to hold me back'. I know they mean that with all their hearts. I also know, that they mean the world to me and that in my eyes, even if they run a 50 minute 5K, they are never holding me back.

So which part of my heart do I run this race for? The one side that wants to prove something to myself; that wants to put closure on a part of running career that was not the happiest for me. Or the other side that wants to celebrate the achievements of my friends and how much they mean to me.

Yep! Okay, fine, I know what I should do.... I know there is only one answer to this dilemma that I can live with. I just need to gag the competitive part of my heart - anyone got any duct tape?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Labelled, Catergorised and boxed for the sanitised society.

As you can probably tell this post is NOT about running. It's about my son D.

I think I mentioned in a previous post that we were paying for him to be assessed for 'Autistic Spectrum Disorder' [ASD]. Well, the assessment happened last week and the report was given to us yesterday.

I should just say that my husband and I were unsure about all of this. To us, our son is just great. Yes, he does have his quirks and issues, but nothing that we think is a detriment to his character. I suppose he is a little 'eccentric' but he does not deliberately harm or cause offence. We like his quirks and think that in 20 years time they will be benefit to him than a hindrance. There are times I wish he wouldn't talk about molecules, particles and atoms when I have just roused myself out of bed and I can still taste the toothpaste. Although I am pretty sure he isn't impressed with me shouting, 'I don't care about how water is made, I just want to drink my coffee'. See we are all quirky!

However, this isn't 20 years in the future. For the next 18 years he has to deal with the western education system. Here his quirks will not be appreciated. His boundless energy will send him to the Principle. His constant talk on Science will be ignored by his peers and teacher. His parroted scripts for social situations will just label him as a freak.

So with him entering Kindergarten this September and the fact that any outside help hinges on an diagnosis, we spent the money and had him assessed. *Shudder* Even now my hand shakes as I remember handing over the credit card to pay the bill. It felt like I was paying for a share in an oil producing nation instead of a dozen hours with paediatricians, psychologists and SLP's.

Firstly, I have to say the assessment was brutal. I have to hand it to the kid, he coped remarkably well. He had 4 assessments in 3 days. Three of the assessments were to test his IQ levels at different situations. There were endless questions. I was exhausted just trying to keep him in a stationary position just to do the tests. He had to cope with staying still AND doing the tests. It was the one week where normal parenting behaviour went out of the window. We begged, we bribed, we cajoled. I think we spent more in bribery just to get him there, than we did on the tests!

So despite the weekend to recover and the few days after chilling out, we walked, like zombies, (or new parents - they both have the same look) into the paediatricians office. We sat there waiting, wondering; what they were going to say?Was the thousands we paid enough to get what we (what he) needed worth it? Should we have just forgotten about the assessment and had a holiday somewhere warm? Just think of all the running gear I could have brought? (I had to get running in there somewhere - it's my second reason for living and the point of this blog!)

The paediatrician said, "After taking all his tests into consideration, after seeing him first-hand and speaking to his current doctor, we have the diagnosis of PDD-NOS". (PDD-NOS is the mildest - but still qualifiable - type of Autistic Spectrum Disorder there is). It means something, but I have had two glasses of wine. If you don't know already, "google it". She promptly handed us some forms, signed them in front of us and announced, "This is what you need to get funding from the government". I know there should shock, or some type of grieving, but all I could think was, "Yes, he is going to get help and he won't be pressured to change". I know it is maybe sick or sad that I didn't feel anything but relief, but he is still my son. I still love him. I still love his quirks; he hasn't changed for me. All this means is that when he get's into school, his teachers will cut him some slack. He will be given money to help 'cover' his little quirks. I say 'cover', because I don't want his quirks to go away, I just want him to understand when they are appropriate. Like playing with yourself is NOT a good calming technique outside of the home!

So I suppose all in all, this will be the best 'heart-stopping' amount of money we will ever spend. It will recoup itself multiple times over in the resources he will get. I feel I should be sad for myself, my family and him that this has happened. I should feel broken that I don't have a normal little boy. I am not. He is a normal little boy to me. I am more heart-broken that he lives in a society; in a time, where he is not considered normal. He is bright - too bright according to his tests, but instead of being made to feel as if this is a gift to use well, he has to go through his education thinking it is a disorder. His eccentricity is not counted as something unique, it is counted as something to go to the Principles office. He has to tone down his behaviour, (which compared to some children is not malicious or intentional), so that the school can cope and educate the mean.

Maybe I have had too much to drink and this is making myself morose. Maybe I am just bitter that my experience of parenthood is more convoluted than most. I always had the impression that after the age of 5 you sent them to school and the teachers taught them everything they needed to know. Naive, immature and incorrect I know; but show me a parent who conceives a child thinking, "In 5 years time we will have to fight the education system so he can be who he is". Maybe, this post makes no sense to anyone and I am just rambling like usual.

Maybe I should go back and get myself another glass of wine and toast the wonderfulness of ASD. Heck, if Einstein had it then it is good enough for my son!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Busted!!! They made me put on shoes!

So, I was running at our local indoor track as I have been for the last 2-3 months. I have been cross-training there as well as a little coaching with some friends.

In my early minimalist/barefoot days, I would run in socks or my 'Vibrams', but this winter I have been running barefoot. Not one murmur. Until Saturday....

About 20 minutes into my 30 minute run, I was pulled over by one of the staff members and asked to put on some shoes. Admittedly she caught me at a bad time. NEVER interrupt a runner half-way through her run; NEVER interrupt her if she has been listening to NIN, and NEVER ask a barefoot runner to put on shoes because of 'health and safety'.

After a growl - yes I think I actually growled at her, and I mumbled something about if I could count them liable if I broke my feet because I put on shoes, we had a talk. She cited that 'I may step on something and sue them', at which point I mentioned I had eyes and would not deliberately go out to hurt myself. She said, 'that if people saw me run barefoot, they may feel they could do it too', at which point I mentioned that will probably happen.

She actually seemed quite receptive. I told her about how I felt running shoes had altered my gait so much it caused me to break two bones in my left foot. This shocked her as I think most people still perceive that no shoes cause injuries. I talked about gait, about heel-strike, about how the foot/calves are designed to act as shock absorbers. I talked about the new evidence backing this, the recent publicity and the sudden interest in barefoot running.

I also mentioned that I thought I would not be the last that would try to run barefoot on the track. She decided to contact the manager and I have offered to help in providing the information, setting up a waiver and helping develop an understanding of barefoot running. We just have to see how that pans out. In the meantime I have decided not to play rebel and put something on my feet.

So today I had to take my trusty Vibram KSO's onto the track. *grumble*. I could only run about 25 minutes before the usual 'Vibram seal blisters' appeared. However I think the run proved a few points for me. I was about half way through my run when some high school boys came to the track. They tried to catch me up and whenever they came close I would put on a sprint and leave them behind. They then saw that I wasn't wearing running shoes, so they TOOK their shoes off and tried to catch me in socks. I still beat them. I went to put on my shoes to continue my cross-training in the gym room and they looked at me and asked if they could have one last lap. I had my shoes on... I told them I probably would be slower, but I still beat them.

So what did the run prove? That I am a better runner because I don't wear shoes and the form I have learnt crosses over to when I DO wear conventional shoes (although I hate it). That even wearing 'Vibrams' will not stop people copying me and taking of their shoes. And that beating high school kids in races IS a blast!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

So is it compulsory to grow up?

A post about me this time. Very short and more just general inane ramblings.

Just a simple question - is it compulsory to grow up? I know I should, but I don't really want to stop acting like I am 6.

Okay, yes, I do have to operate in the real world. In this real world, I pretend and do all the normal stuff that has to be done. I go to the store; I do chores; I run my son to the Doctors office; I pay bills.

But it's a façade. This isn't me at all. Why would I want it to be? All of the above sounds pretty dull. Inside of me is the little kid that has never grown up. I pull funny faces to strangers. I make potty jokes with my son. I run barefoot races with high school kids. I laugh at stupid people doing serious things. I make stupid jokes and say lots of things that only other 6 year olds get. I act silly and I DO NOT take life seriously.

But does there have to be a time, when I have to leave all of the silliness and have to act like an adult 24*7? I mean, do people REALLY expect everyone to behave like that? I am getting the impression, that people think I should grow up and like 'Peter Pan' I flatly refuse to.

So who is wrong? Me, for pretending that it doesn't matter what people believe is 'proper'; or is it everyone else making me into something I don't want to be.

If I have to grow up, then in the usual phraseology of a 5 year old; why? I am not hurting anyone. I am hopefully not offending anyone. I am a functioning member of society, (although the terms 'functioning' and 'society' may be under discussion). Why is it SO important that I talk endlessly about school registration and catchment areas? Why do I have to talk about 'he said/she said/no they didn't' in the coffee shop? Why do I have to talk about parenting and strata council meetings?

AHHHHHHH!!!!! I am having to live too much in my 'grown-up' façade at the moment. Is it so much to ask that in the few moments of quiet I have, I can't go and sit in the back of the classroom with the safety scissors and glue and pretend to pull funny faces behind Mr McGregory's back?

Ranting over.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

And this is one of the Autistic weeks.

I haven't posted for a while and the last month of so has been so busy it's not funny.

I also know there should be a second part to the whole 'My son, did we miss things..' blog I started earlier, but to be fair I just need to rant and rave.

So after much deliberation, my husband and I have finally decided to put down the thousands of dollars we need to get my son tested for Autistic Spectrum Disorder. He has his assessment next week. He is down to have an assessment via the state health department, but that isn't available for the next 12 months. At that time, he would be in Kindergarten and without any help if he needs it. There is no funding without diagnosis, and it is quite clear that he needs help.

I have to admit, even at this point I am not sure which way it is going to go. It sounds weird that we would spend thousands of dollars on an assessment without being certain about how it is going to pan out. I think that is the problem with ASD. It's not a definitive line.

Compare D's behaviour from the beginning of January to his behaviour today and I think you can see why. If you saw D at the beginning of the school term, you would have wondered what all the fuss was about. He had a few little quirks, but nothing that warranted mention from the class teacher.

This week was a different matter. D has been a little 'off' for a couple of weeks, but this has now been compounded by a week of endless chores and running around. He is tired. He is tired from school, he is tired from home and he is finding it very hard to keep himself together. Every little ASD funny that has manifested itself occasionally, have ALL returned this week. You look at him and it is clear he has ASD.

He screams at every new noise. He cannot deal with any transition. He cannot pick up on non-verbal signals. He has no empathy. His language skills have decreased to the point where even I am not sure what he is saying. He is not aware of where is arms and legs are - in fact today I am not even sure he can stand up straight. He is unable to look at you. He won't respond to you. He is easily frustrated and is acting out aggressively. He twirls, he spins, he tries to bash into objects for comfort. He has NO idea what he is doing or thinking.

I am not sure if this is good or bad. Maybe, this will mean that the Doctors will pick up on his ASD traits more easily and diagnose him. If they saw him in January, I doubt that would have happened. This will give him the help he needs. It's hard though. Seeing him so clearly out of control and not really being able to do anything about it. It's hard having to deal with this. This is like it was 2 years ago when he had NO control and we had NO idea. When I was unable to leave him for a minute. When he had to be constantly supervised and reminded.

I suppose I am just suffering from those 'blues' you get when you have a restless night after your child has been sleeping through. When they regress after being toilet trained. You forget how hard it was and then you are unfortunately reminded.

I know this is a phase and with a chill-out week he will bounce back. I just wish it was soon, but not so soon that it means he won't be helped.

I can feel that the next couple of weeks will involve a large amount of wine, sedatives and barefoot running! Three things that are NOT mentioned in any parenting manual!