Alex and Jamie Schneider are two teenagers with non-verbal autism. They are 16 year old identical twins who needed some way to focus their attention and burn off their energy. Their parents got them into running, and now it is their favorite activity. They get so excited about it, in fact, that their parents can not tell them until the morning of a race or else they will never sleep the night before.

Because the boys cannot follow a race course alone, each must run with a guide. But they have trouble finding guides who are fast enough. Shanthy Hughes, 39, of Floral Park, runs with Jamie. Kevin McDermott, 48, of East Islip, runs with Alex. The guides’ availability is limited, so the boys run only once a week.

“He’s a running machine,” Mr. McDermott said. “He’s come so far with minimal practice, and he drops 15 seconds each race. We don’t want to push him, so we really don’t know how fast he can really go yet. We’re holding him back because he doesn’t understand pacing. He goes out too fast the first mile, because he doesn’t know when the race is going to end.”

The twins are able to focus completely on the race and block out all distractions. The trick is reigning them in, because they have no idea whether they are running 1 mile or 10 kilometers. It can sometimes be an effort to get them to stop after passing through the finish line.

(Source: New York Times)