Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One Step Ahead - P.E.I. runner refuses to let autism keep him from competing

P.E.I. runner
refuses to let autism keep him from competing

The Guardian

Don’t pity Alex Bain because he can barely tie the laces of his running shoes.
In fact, don’t pity the 20-year-old Bain at all. He doesn’t feel any for himself; he’s too busy running marathons — 5Ks, 10Ks, 42Ks, anything to stay one step ahead of the autism which has dogged him for 17 years.
Autism is a brain development disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and restricted and repetitive behaviour, all starting before a child is three years old. One of its effects on Bain is limiting certain fine motor skills, such as tying shoelaces. Just last year he stopped asking his mother, Janet Norman-Bain, to tether them.
But autism was far behind in his 45th-place finish at the P.E.I. Marathon is October. The Oyster Bed Bridge native completed his first full marathon in 3:29:29.
And iRun Magazine, an Ottawa-based Canadian running periodical, noticed. It included Bain in its inaugural 12-person list of the most inspiring runners in the country. Called the 2009 iRun Awards, the roll is featured in the magazine’s January issue.
There isn’t a flashy award ceremony or inscribed trophy or engraved mahogany plaque, just a copy of the magazine. But for Bain, it’s not about rewards, it’s about acceptance.
“It makes me happy and proud. The people saw I am a good runner and did a good thing. I hope this award will help me get to be an Olympic torchbearer and more people will learn about me,” said Bain in an e-mail interview. “People will read the magazine and see me on (television) and in the newspaper and learn that people with autism can do lot of things.”
iRun also noticed his tip-to-tip run of P.E.I. in July 2006 to raise money for autism awareness and risk and safety management. Bain, with his mother (who played support crew, videographer and shoelace binder) in tow, ran up to 25 kilometres per day.
The $6,000 raised paid for seminars by an expert (Dennis Debbaudt) who trains law enforcement and first responders in recognizing and responding to autism in emergency situations, bought training videos for every police and RCMP detachment in P.E.I. and placed a card explaining how to recognize autism in the wallets of Island law enforcement officers, first responders and school-age autistics.
On the pavement, Bain has won other awards like the P.E.I. RoadRunners rookie of the year, junior RoadRunner of the year and inspirational runner of the year.
It’s further proof the condition isn’t a barrier for the 2005 Bluefield High School grad. And it just might be a bridge over the chasm of challenges autism presents, a span he began navigating in elementary school.
“I wanted to be on the cross-country team in Grade 4,” said Bain of why he started running. “There are a few people I heard of that run. (Saint John’s) Chris Brake holds (the second-fastest) course record in the Fredericton, N.B., marathon (2:41:40 in 2005). At least two autistics were in the New York Marathon this year. Not so many on sports teams, (but) I don’t think there are physical limitations.”
Just pesky shoelaces, which occasionally come untied such as in a five-kilometre race in Charlottetown in June.
Bain didn’t stop.
He posted a personal best (19:07).
This article is fairly factually accurate. There are a couple of issues.... readers here will know that Alex is now 21, I also question the journalist's qualification of Chris Brake's course record and of course Alex has been autistic all his life, not just since the day he was diagnosed, etc. My comments here are not to pick this article apart but to say:
If you are reading the *newspaper* version (not the web version)
Please ignore the orange "Signs of Autism" box - it is full of garbage and inaccuracies posing as facts. Accurate information is VERY IMPORTANT. Spreading this kind of misinformation can be harmful to autistics and is NOT what Alex and I are about when we strive to spread autism awareness. I was not asked to provide a source for autism info for this article and had no idea one, especially this one, would be included. Instead, please read:

What we'd like you to know about Autism

Autism is a neurological difference classified as a developmental disability. Autistic people have atypical behaviours in three areas: social interaction, communication, and restricted interests or repetitive behaviours. Autistics are different at the most basic level available: how they experience the world, and how they learn from it. Autism presents with measurable differences in perception, attention, memory, intelligence, etc. The autistic order and progress of development is different from the typical version as is autistic brain structure, allocation, and function. Autism presents strengths not available to the typical population, but the different pattern of strengths and weaknesses characterizing autism results in many difficulties as atypical needs and adaptive but atypical autistic behaviours are at odds with what is considered or expected as "normal".

Autism isn't a disease, or a bunch of behaviours, any more than femaleness is. Autism involves neurological differences, which are basic and comprehensive. Autistic neurology is no more or less valid than non-autistic neurology: both autistics and non-autistics are able to develop, learn, progress, and achieve things, but may do so in different ways and may require different kinds of help along the way.

Progress is part of the natural course of development in autistics, as it is in non-autistics, but development in autism may not proceed in the same order as is considered normal for non-autistics. Autistics may, e.g., seem advanced in some areas and delayed in others. Seen in perspective, this means that in comparison with autistics, non-autistics are likely to be advanced in some areas and delayed in others. Non-autistics may need a great deal of assistance in learning things that autistics learn easily, and the reverse may also be true. Seeing as we don't declare non-autistics to be "succeeding in treatment" or "less severely non-autistic" or "recovered" when they develop and learn, it should be clear that describing autistics in these kinds of terms is misleading and prejudicial.

Autistics are alert and aware of what is happening around us, even though we may not be able to show this or respond in expected, typical ways. Autistics also may not communicate in typical ways, and in some situations, will find it difficult to communicate at all. However, this does not reflect a fundamental inability or unwillingness to communicate. Autistics want to communicate, and can do so when provided with a context in which communication is both possible and responded to. This is also true of non-autistics, but non-autistics are much more likely to be provided with contexts in which they can communicate successfully.

Dividing autism into "severe" and "mild", or in similar ways, is misleading and harmful. Autistics may differ in the extent to which autistic traits are or are not obvious, and this may vary in individual autistics from hour to hour, day to day, and year to year, depending on many factors, including on what kind of context an autistic lives in. The extent to which autistic traits are or are not evident in any individual autistic is unrelated to our intelligence and our outcomes as adults. However, societal prejudices against autistic traits may prevent autistics whose traits are more obvious from being considered able to learn, to communicate, to make decisions about our lives, to walk around freely, to be employed, etc.

Michelle Dawson
Pervasive Developmental Disorders Specialized Clinic
re des Prairies Hospital
University of Montreal

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My 21st Birthday

It was the 21st birthday.

I get a cards and presents.

Afternoon I went to glow bowling and see Dianne and Elaine on the way.

I won two time in 3 games.

I had a blizzard treat, a pizza, death by chocolate cake.

I had root beer and corn chips and played my new Wii game Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games.

Thank you for cards and presents and saying Happy Birthday on the blog and Facebook.

I had a very good birthday!


Monday, December 15, 2008


(not our photo)

Our photos
(updated throughout the day)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How Alex reacted to learning he'd won the iRun Award

I knew ahead of time that Alex had won the iRun award (though I still don't know who nominated him...). When I saw it had hit the Website, I loaded the web page announcing the winners on my PC, set up the video camera, and invited Alex in to check it out. Here's his reaction......

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Islanders on the Run - This Weekend in Death Valley

60 (Place) Loretta Van Ekris Charlottetown, Pei 42/ F 04:13:10
149 runners
Full Results

Half Marathon
20 (Place) John Van Ekris Charlottetown, Pei 42/ M 01:38:32
141 runners
Full Results

Congratulations John & Loretta!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Souris Turkey Trot - I won Christmas Dinner!

It was sunny and -3 degrees.

The Turkey Trot on the parade route before the Santa Claus Parade.

There no whiteout like last year and clear this year.

I finish in 21:08 and I made the top 10 and came in 7th out of 50 runners.

Ryan Doucette won the race and Amanda Simmonds for the top female.

Munchies at the
Blue Fin after wards
chef Michael Smith made the soup.

I won a bowl and mom got
chef Michael to autograph it
for my sister Jasmine.

I won the turkey dinner for Christmas:
a turkey, stuffing, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, turnip, cranberries and luxury fruit pudding.

It was last race of 2008.

Official Result: 7th out of 50
5K in 21 minutes, 20 seconds

Turkey Trot 2007

Turkey Trot 2006

Turkey Trot 2005
Turkey Trot 2004

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Next Run - The Souris Turkey Trot

* Saturday, December 6, 2008
(Points Race)

Souris Turkey Trot
(12th Anniversary)

Distance: 5 K

Starting Time: 1:25 p.m.

Registration: 12:15 p.m. Souris Consolidated School
$5. for kids, $10. for adults

Course Description: Follows Parade Route

Wrap-up Social at Bluefin at 2:30.
The soup will be supplied by
Rachel and Chef Michael Smith, so don't miss it.

Contact: Donna Campbell-Dixon, 357-2714 or
Sara Deveau, 687-3067

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Olde Charlottetown Christmas Run & Party

On Saturday Night after the Santa Claus Parade in Charlottetown,
the group of PEI Road Runners at Queen Charlotte Armories for a 5km run and party.

It was 1 degree and little windy.
It was dark we wore reflective clothes and took the flashlight.

The 5km map on figure 8 at Victoria Park, Province House and Old Charlottetown.
The lights were on houses and trees and Victoria Row there were archways of lights
and snowflake lights in Rochford Park. It was a very nice run.

We went back to armories and have muchies and prizes and fun.
We all won a prizes and my mom won the 50/50.

I play the pool with my dad.

Next Saturday it was the last race of 2008, Souris Turkey Trot on the parade route.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Autistic runner finds friends, interaction on team

Autistic runner finds friends, interaction on team

Roar of the crowd

The crowd began to roar as Joshua Otani emerged around the final turn.

Surrounded by teammates providing encouraging words, Otani pushed his legs through to the finish line.

The Pacifica High sophomore might have been the last runner to cross at the Pacific View League Championships, but the result was inconsequential.

Finishing the race was all that mattered.

Otani, 15, has autism, and joining the Pacifica cross country team this season was his first time participating in sports.

Keeping Josh running was a schoolwide effort from the administrators down to the students.

They watched over him at practices, helped guide him through races and provided new friends on campus.

"Cross country was such a confidence-builder for Josh," said Otani's mother, Susan. "When he is around regular kids he just stands taller and smiles more. It makes him happy to be able to have that interaction."

Autism is a brain development disorder that is characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior. The cause is not known.

In 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported one in 150 children has autism, and boys outnumber girls four to one.

Otani was diagnosed with autism at age 3 after his parents thought he had a hearing problem.

He is high functioning with no behavioral problems, but his verbal skills are very limited.

"He can understand when you speak to him, but his brain just won't allow the connection for speech," his mother said. "We always say it is just like a misfire. You know he understands you, he just literally can't answer sometimes."

Staying active

More and more autistic children are being encouraged to take part in physical education programs because of the health benefits and social outlet the programs provide.

During an adaptive PE class at Pacifica last year, Otani's special education teacher, Brian Murphy, noticed Otani's aptitude for running.

Murphy approached Pacifica cross country coach Jason Daw and asked if Otani could join the team this season.

"I am always open to anyone with a disability running if I think I can help them," Daw said. "Even if it's a little extra responsibility, I think it's important for the kids on the team to see that anyone can participate in this sport."

Otani's parents have always experimented with change in their son's life, and cross country provided another opportunity.

"He has got to live in this world, and he has got to be able to function. It's not like we can keep him locked up in his room," his mother said. "He has to interact and deal and be a part of society. It would be a disservice if we don't try to give him all the tools he needs to be productive."

After his first practice with the team, his mother asked, "Do you want to go to back tomorrow?"

"Yeah," Josh responded.

"He is a very passive kid even without autism, so when he lets us know there is something he really wants to do, you drop everything," his mother said. "You want to get it for him because he doesn't often initiate language without a prompt."

A typical teenager

Otani is undergoing speech therapy to try to draw more language out of him, but often his actions speak as loudly as words.

While at Frank Intermediate School, Otani thought he should be in regular classes instead of special education. So one day he grabbed his backpack and walked out of the classroom. He found another classroom, took a seat and remained there the rest of the year.

He let his parents know he had become a teenager by taking all the baby items out of his room and placing them in the hall.

In many ways, Otani is just a typical teenager. He enjoys browsing the Internet, watching YouTube videos and playing Wii with his younger sister, Mikayla.

"Mikayla was the biggest catalyst in getting Joshua a lot more social and verbal," his mother said. "When they were really young, she decided he was going to be her playmate and she was unrelenting. She said, ‘Joshua you are going to play with me and talk to me.' They are buddies to this day."

The stretch run

Otani completed three cross country races this season and made great strides along the way.

During his first race at the Seaside Invitational, Otani stopped midway through and sat down on a log.

Daw, his coach, realized Otani needed to have someone running with him to keep him moving in the right direction.

"One of the kids gives up their race to run with Josh," Daw said. "The kids are cool with it, and they knew today is my day to help Josh out. It works, and the kids have a good feeling helping him."

Although she attended junior high with Otani, Andrea Oseguera never interacted with him until he joined Pacifica's cross country team.

"I think it is really cool because it is important to integrate special needs students into our program," she said.

"He has been improving with his running, and it's easier for him now. He tells me he likes it."

Hearing comments like that is the reason Murphy, Otani's teacher, encouraged him to join the team.

"It is a win-win for everybody. The students are aware of him as a person and treat him with respect and dignity, and Josh has made big progress," Murphy said. "His speech has improved, and he has really progressed socially."

Murphy ran a large portion of Otani's final race by his side for moral support.

"It was really emotional. I actually had to get away because I was crying at the end," Murphy said. "They are your kids and you are so much involved in them and to see something like that is the highlight of being a teacher."

Otani had a large contingent of fans cheering for him along the College Park course in Oxnard.

His father, Genji, asked for the day off from work at the post office to watch his son race for the first time.

He beamed as Josh crossed the finish line.

"All I want is for him to be happy, and if he enjoys being out there and running that is where I want him to be," his father said. "That is what matters to me the most."

Now that cross country season is over, Otani is considering joining the track team in the spring.

When an observer asked if he had fun running this season, Otani smiled and nodded.

That said it all.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Alex on Compass - iRun Award

Alex was quite thrilled to see the news of his iRun Award made the CBC Compass News Monday night. Not only did it catch the eye of folks I on local forums and Alex's Facebook friends but when I went to town today I was stopped by a few people who saw it and wanted me to pass on their congratulations to Alex. Along with the public messages of congratulations here, here and here, our mailboxes have seen plenty more. Thank you all. Alex has been reading them all and checking the comments on his blog regularly. Here's 30 more seconds of Alex's fame....

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Alex in Hebrew

Remember when Alex was in Spanish? (La evolución de Alex Bain)

Well, now he's also in Hebrew.... אוטיזם הוא הילד. אוטיזם הוא הגבר.

Alex has a real love for the Japanese language. The day his story is told in Japanese will be quite a thrill for him!

Perhaps it's only a matter of time.....

Islanders on the Run - Last Weekend in Florida

47(Place) 9(Gender Place) 4:51:58 Elaine Burkholder Kensington, PE 11:09(Pace)

Island cross-country runners bring home medals from Atlantics

Congratulations Rebecca & Connor!!

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

(Click on image to enlarge & read)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Recognition for autism run

Recognition for autism run

P.E.I. runner Alex Bain has been named one of Canada's most inspirational runners by iRun magazine.

Bain's run for autism awareness is highlighted in the magazine's January issue.

The magazine outlines the 2006 run Bain undertook to raise awareness for autism. During July of that year, Bain covered 20 to 25 kilometres a day in a tip-to-tip run across the province.

Bain was diagnosed with autism when he was three.

My "Happy Song"

This morning at 6:15, as I was dragging myself out of bed, I heard Karen announcing Alex's iRun Award on CBC Radio Island Morning. Then, because the current contest they are running is "send us your 'Happy Song' and we'll play some of them" they went back through their mail and found an email I sent last week and read it in part:

These are Days
10,000 Maniacs

Takes me back to Alex's tip to tip run. As I accompanied him on my bike, this is the song I obsessively played on my MP3 player. To me, it was the theme song of his run.
(He used some different songs to accompany the video and stills when he made the video of that run: North Country by the Rankins, Think About the Years by Haywire, Old Man by Neil Young, Against the Wind by Bob Seger and Day by Day by Doug and the Slugs.)


I just checked YouTube and, of course, there's a music video (and a live performance from President Clinton's Inaugural Ball). Here it is (and I still obsess on it):


These are the days
These are days you'll remember
Never before and never since, I promise
Will the whole world be warm as this
And as you feel it,
You'll know its true
That you are blessed and lucky
Its true that you
Are touched by something
That will grow and bloom in you

These are days that you'll remember
When May is rushing over you
With desire to be part of the miracles
You see in every hour
You'll know its true
That you are blessed and lucky
Its true that you are touched
By something that will grow and bloom in you

These are days
These are the days you might fill
With laughter until you break
These days you might feel
A shaft of light
Make its way across your face
And when you do
Then you'll know how it was meant to be
See the signs and know their meaning
It's true
Then you'll know how it was meant to be
Hear the signs and know theyre speaking
To you, to you...

Natalie's official website:

10,000 Maniacs official website:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

2009 iRun Award Winner - Alex Bain

Inspiring, Moving, Empowering:
2009 iRun Awards

The 2009 iRun Awards go to:
  • Paul Franklin
  • Joanne Gunning
  • Derek Modry
  • David Daze
  • Matt Hill and Stephanie Tait
  • Gary Gobeil
  • Ken Hill
  • Dina Salvador
  • Amanda and Mark Collis
  • Rob Tolman
  • Cheryl Bartmanovich
  • Alex Bain

  • Alex Bain, Oyster Bed Bridge, PEI

    iRun for Autism Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion.

    At the age of 20, PEI native Alex Bain’s unwavering dedication to running already sets him apart from most of his peers. Bain races almost every weekend. He has broken the 20-minute mark in the 5k and is very close to breaking 40 minutes in the 10k. He just completed his first full marathon in an impressive time of 3:29:29.

    But his age isn’t the only thing that’s special about Bain; he was diagnosed as autistic at the age of three. Today, a huge part of Alex’s motivation each time he laces up his shoes is to promote awareness about autism – and the fact that he, and many others like him, wish for acceptance, not a cure. “Autism makes me different from my friends,” says Bain. “That’s OK.” As his trademark yellow race t-shirt spells out, Bain is “Running For Autism, Not Against It.”

    In July 2006, Alex (accompanied by his mother, Janet Norman-Bain, who played both support crew and videographer) embarked on a run from tip-to-tip of PEI to raise money for autism awareness and risk and safety management. But even this challenge – he averaged between 20-25k per day – didn’t quite prepare him for what the last stretch of his marathon would feel like: Bain admits he hit the wall with 10k to go, “the first time I’ve done three hours of running.” Still, he exceeded his projected time goal by more than five minutes.

    Bain is no stranger to awards; he has also been crowned PEI RoadRunners Rookie of the Year, Junior RoadRunner of the Year and Inspirational Runner of the Year.


    Thank you, whoever nominated him, they didn't tell me who you are.

    I've known about this for a while now but Alex only learned about it just now when I saw it had shown up up their website and showed him. They will be sending him a copy of the magazine since we are without a Running Room or Runner's Den here (you can pick up a free copy at any Running Room or subscribe here).

    Thanks too Jessica Aldred, Associate Editor, for so nicely capturing the essence of Alex in the bio she wrote.

    Congratulations Alex!

    "I like to thanks to Stanley Chaisson for training me, Chris Brake for inspiring me, my mom for drives to races and all members from PEI Road Runner Club. Special Thanks for Dianne and Elaine for big hugs." Alex

    PEI RoadRunners Responded HERE