By: Adair Renning
Our daughter Asia turned 33 this past April. She was not formally diagnosed with autism until she was 12, but that's another story. She had the benefit of some, but not all of the treatment options that are available today. Still, she has come a long, long way from the nearly non-verbal child who spent her days lying on the floor, flicking pieces of paper against her skin and eyelashes and spinning the wheels on toy cars.
When Asia arrived from Korea at nearly 2 years of age, she couldn't roll from front to back, sit unsupported, crawl, stand, or walk. She had no language. She had a colostomy but the orphanage was too poor to afford the expensive supplies needed. Her skin was a mass of hives and there were restraint marks on her wrists and ankles.
When she was four she could not bite an apple, a chicken drumstick, or an ear of corn. She didn't chew, and swallowed her food whole. She used only a few single words which were hard to understand by anyone outside the family. She ground her teeth so loudly you could hear it in another room. She would not/could not pick up or hold anything with her hands.
When she was nine she dug holes in her fingers and clawed at her arms and legs until they bled when upset. She had no concept of what a stranger was, and would have cheerfully gone off with the meter reader if he offered her food or a trip to an amusement park.
Through treatments for food allergies and Auditory Integration Therapy (4afsfit.com), chelation therapy and supplements, gluten and casein-free diets, Asia’s future became much brighter……and then she discovered running.
Asia is one of the lucky ones. She has found her niche in running, and with it, has found acceptance and friendship within the local running community. She runs every day, at least 5 miles a day, and has for 16 years. She practices with her Applied Fitness Solutions Running team on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and she races.
To date she has run 158 races, not including any that she ran in High School or any Special Olympics races. She has run 3 full marathons, 19 half-marathons, 26 10K races, 81 5K races and assorted 4, 8, and 10 mile races.
You can see her statistics here: http://www.athlinks.com/athletes/Asia%20Renning/Profile
For Asia, it’s not *if* she’s going to run on a particular day, but rather *when* she will run.
Weekdays are easy…..she comes home from work, changes clothes and runs…rain or shine, sun or snow. If it’s really nasty out, with sub-zero wind chills and near blizzard conditions, like much of last winter here in Michigan, she runs on the treadmill downstairs. But her preference, regardless of the weather, is to run outside.
A lot of people have told us that Asia inspires them. We know of at least one person who returned to school to pursue a degree in special education because of Asia. We think the greatest thing Asia has done so far is to give hope to other parents of children with autism. We think she has many other great things to offer.