Why worry about speaking when your running can do the talking for you? Identical twins Alex and Jamie Schneider, 27, have a severe form of autism that requires 24-hour per day care. They may not be able to cross the street by themselves, but out on the roads, they’re distance runners who are turning heads and doing more than holding their own.
Alex just ran his 17th marathon on Sunday when he swooped through New York City’s five boroughs in 2 hours, 50 minutes and 5 seconds to set a new personal record. It was his fourth New York City Marathon.
He also took second place overall in the 2016 Suffolk Country Marathon, running the race in a blazing 2 hours, 56 minutes and 46 seconds.
At that particular race, he flew into the finish area with legs so heavy that he fell three times before crossing the line.
Alex also ran the New York City Marathon in 2013 and 2015, finishing in 3 hours, 14 minutes and 36 seconds, and in 3 hours and 12 minutes, respectively.
Jamie, however, prefers taking things slower than six-and-a-half minute miles. He’s a social runner who stops to shake hands with volunteers at water stations, and waves to spectators along the course. But, his running resume is just as impressive as Alex’s. He’s completed the 2013 New York City Marathon as well as four Boston Marathons among other races.
The men are both nonverbal, and began running in 1998 because their parents, Allan and Robyn, could tell exercise made them happy. So, they found a great running club in New York that paired experienced runners with people who have developmental disabilities. And, Allan and Robyn got in on the act, too.
Allan found that the sport relieved his symptoms from multiple sclerosis while Robyn, who was fighting breast cancer at the time, enjoyed the freedom and self-care opportunity running provided her.
Because Alex and Jamie need guides to help them with food and water intake, Allan often laces up and runs with Jamie, while a coach runs with a speedier Alex.
“I try to explain to people, there’s not a lot I can share with him, but when we’re running, it’s an unspoken language going on,” Allan told Good Morning America.
Research from Achilles International and New York Medical College shows that being active seems to provide great benefits to those with autism.
They saw statistically significant improvements in endurance, social awareness, cognition, communication, and motivation, and fewer restrictive and repetitive behaviors among those who ran and walked for 20 minutes twice per week…
The research shows what exercise also reduces: aggression, self injury, and motor stereotypies, which describes the repetitive behaviors—body rocking and hand flapping—that some people with autism engage in. (Runner’s World)
As for Alex and Jamie, expect more finish line celebrations. These guys have places to go and miles to crush.
You can follow their journey on Autismrunner.com.