In The New York Times, Corey Kilgannon writes about identical autistic twins, Alex and Jamie Schneider, who started running marathons in 2010.
“They thrive on the repetition and routine of racing. You finish, get a medal, high-five everyone at the finish line and go home.” said their mother Robyn Schneider.
The twins are 22 years old, non-verbal and can exhibit severe behaviors like self-injury and tantrums. They have completed in more than 120 races, including five marathons and eight half-marathons. Writes Mr. Kilgannon.
Alex and Jamie ran in the Boston Marathon where two bombs near the finish killed 3 people and injured 260 others. The twins are still trying to make sense of what happened that day. “They can’t talk it out, like you or I could. We can try telling them everything’s going to be OK, but they still don’t understand what happened. We can’t explain what a bomb is. We don’t know how they internalize all this stuff.” said their father Allan Schneider
“Jamie is so sensitive, even if he sees you frowning on the phone, or someone frowns in the room, he picks up on it and gets very upset himself. I think that being out there in the freezing cold, looking at police with machine guns, he went through emotional carnage.” said Mr. Schneider
Alex can cope with trauma a little better than Jamie, “He doesn’t internalize things. In that way, the autism is a blessing for a runner. He didn’t drink much of it in, in Boston as Jamie did.” said Mr. Schneider
The family began running on the beach when the boys were about 8, writes Corey Kilgannon. Special Olympics races followed when the boys were teenagers. The twins gained more experience with the “Rolling Thunder Special Needs Program.”