FOR MANY WITH AUTISM, RUNNING IS A SPORT THAT FITS
As opportunities for training and racing grow, runners and their families are seeing results they never anticipated.
BY ALISON WADE
“Tommy Des Brisay had an insatiable need to move when he was a child.
He began walking at 8 months old. He would bounce on his backyard trampoline for hours and climb heights fearlessly. He slept only three hours a night until he was 7. As he grew older, he would go on long tandem bike rides, cross-country ski, and lead his father on walks that would leave them stranded miles from their home in Ottawa, Ontario.
And when he was stressed or upset, Des Brisay—who was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 and a half—would run. This posed a danger, because he didn’t understand what could harm him: traffic, exposure to weather, strangers.
When he was 14, in 2006, his mother, MaryAnn Given Des Brisay, asked her husband, Peter Des Brisay, to try taking their son along on his daily run, hoping to provide him a way to channel his desire for movement.
“It made sense—take something someone is instinctively driven to do and make it into a positive, rather than try to squelch a behavior,” Given Des Brisay said. ”
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