The Reason Why I Am Running for Autism

by | Nov 27, 2015 | About Our CEO | 5 comments

Autism: The Reason Why I Started Running Marathons

Up until recent years I had never really been a runner.

Yes, I had always kept myself reasonably fit. As a dive instructor, teacher and mentor that kind of happens naturally without you even thinking about it to be honest, but runner? No thanks, not really my cup of tea.

Little Gracie enters our life….
But then on the 22nd of June 2012, something amazing happened, and that little “amazing” was the birth of our first child Gracie. She was in typical style, a honeymoon baby and was a little firecracker from the moment she was born.

For the first few months of her life (we were living in Papua New Guinea at the time), she appeared to be developing like any other baby of her age, laughing, giggling, crawling all over the shop and discovering life.

If you’ve got kids yourself then you will understand this. With little Gracie, she lit up my whole life. It didn’t matter if I had had the day from hell at work where everything had gone wrong, the minute I came home and she crawled over to my feet smiling at me and clinging onto my trouser legs, all of my daily pressure just melted away and I was purring like a kitten again.

A heartbreaking turn of events….
It was around about 9 months of age that we noticed that she wasn’t really reaching those all-important milestones that other children of her age were reaching.

Preferring her own company to that of other people, she would often be seen to drift off into her own world and was rapidly becoming an insular child, almost on a daily basis.

The laughter started to become less and less and she started to display some very strange behavior. This ranged from spinning around and around for no apparent reason, twirling her hands in the air, continually shrugging her shoulders and running everywhere.

Yes sure, some of this behavior seemed normal for a child her age, but something to Carol and I just didn’t seem right. I consulted my best friend (his name is Google), and instantly wished I hadn’t.

Every symptom I typed into that search engine came back as the same thing. Autism, autism, autism.
I sat there at my office staring at that computer screen for maybe 2 days solid, doing online test after online test but the same answer kept flashing back, “There is a high probability that your child has autism”.

At that point, I didn’t even really know what autism was, and even now, almost 3 years later, I wouldn’t say that I am an expert, but I know enough.

I know that at 3 and a half years old she should be talking at least a few words. She is not.
I know that she should be engaging with other kids her same age, making eye contact, running, parallel playing and developing healthily. She is not.

Our little Gracie, our little princess and the love of my life is officially on the autistic spectrum as non-verbal autistic.

Finding the Silver Lining in the cloud….
There is a silver lining on this cloud however, and that is that after months and months of speech therapy, special schooling, occupational therapy and developmental therapy, she is showing some signs of improvement but it is inconsistent. We strive and continue to work hard to support her.

Both my wife, Carol and I are continually researching and it was then that I discovered the true extent of how widespread autism worldwide actually is. It literally affects hundreds of thousands of families across the globe and the numbers are increasing with no real confirmation of the causes of it.

We chose to take action and raise awareness for Autism

Carol and I made a choice….
Fast forward to May of this year, and both Carol and I ran a short 10km run at the Borneo International Marathon.

Carol was the true hero of the hour, running the whole thing whilst pushing both Gracie and our son Joshua in the double stroller, but that’s for another post!

For me however, I was surprised to find that I actually enjoyed it and despite the fact that the only running I had been doing was down to the 7-11 to get a pint of milk, my time was quite respectable too.

A few days later, (when I got the feeling back in my legs), Carol and I were enjoying a bottle of wine on the balcony when she half-jokingly suggested that I run a marathon for charity.

I kind of laughed it off, but then it got me thinking, “Yeah, I could do that. I could run for autism.”

It’s really happening….
Now it’s November and I am about to run my first official 21km at the Penang Bridge Half Marathon as my training is beginning in earnest for 2 back to back marathons next year.

I am proud to say that I am confirmed and registered to run the Virgin London Marathon (full 42km) on 24th April 2016, followed by the Borneo International Marathon (full 42km) exactly a week later on 1st May 2016, all in aid of the National Autistic Society where I am striving to raise 2,000.00 pounds.

If you believe you can help me make a difference to the lives of literally tens of thousands of families with autism, please follow the link to my everydayhero page.

It doesn’t matter if you can spare only $1.00, everything little bit counts and we are most grateful.

In traditional bloggy-blog style I will keep you all updated each week how things are going.

Until next time….
Luke

National Autistic Society London Marathon 2016

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