April promises to be both busy and exhilarating for Great Neck’s internationally known marathon family, the Schneiders.
Robyn and Allan Schneider will be returning to Boston on the 20th where their twin 24-year-old sons, Alex and Jamie, who were diagnosed with severe autism when they were infants, will compete in their fourth Boston Marathon and 10th marathon overall.
Robyn’s book Silent Running: Our Family’s Journey to the Finish Line with Autism (Triumph Books, 2015) launches on Thursday, April 9, with a 7 p.m. book signing and reading at Barnes & Noble in Manhasset.
The Marathon and the family’s preparation for it, along with Robyn’s first of many planned appearances to promote her memoir, coincide with World Autism Awareness Day (April 2) and National Autism Awareness Month.
Despite the unusually bad winter, the Schneiders are ready for Boston. “We got all of our training in,” said Robyn. “It was difficult but we managed. We did our best in finding places that were clear and safe to run and rarely missed a training day.”
The publication of the book, which was written with Kate Hopper, fulfills a longtime goal for Robyn.
“I feel that we have a very unique story,” she said. “I wanted to write the book to share my story…to inspire other people, to offer some hope and strength, not only to those living with autism or special needs but also really to anyone that’s facing any type of adversity in their lives.”
The Schneiders’ story has previously been told on national TV and in many newspapers and magazines.
Her husband Allan, who will run along side Jamie as usual in Boston, has lived with multiple sclerosis for many years. Jamie is a leisurely runner while his brother is a competitive runner whose fastest marathon time was 3:14 in the New York City Marathon two years ago. Alex, who runs with his trainers, ran a 3:26:58 last year in Boston.
Robyn is a breast cancer survivor and has been cancer free for six years. Running is a passion for her, too, and she hopes to compete in her first half marathon sometime this year. “That’s my goal,” she said. “It’s on my radar.”
Silent Running vividly and painstakingly not only describes Robyn and Allan’s struggles in coming to grips with their sons’ autism and discovering the optimum way of raising Alex and Jamie, but also their own health issues.
“I just wanted to show what we’ve gone through in 24 years of raising twin boys with autism,” Robyn said when she was asked about her motivation in writing the book.
“The process of actually writing the memoir was just so emotional for me and difficult,” she admitted. “But it was also joyful. It was really cathartic for me, just to go through the emotions and the pains and the tearful moments, the joyful moments. It was just a wonderful experience for me going through that whole process. And it just allowed me to share my inner emotions.”
“Putting that down in words gave me a sense of peace and satisfaction.”
She also gives credit to her husband for helping with the book. Speaking of Allan who she’s been married to for over 30 years, she says, “After all, even though I’m telling the story, this is our lives. He’s my partner and he had quite a lot to do with many aspects of the book and especially when the boys were first diagnosed.”
Adds Allan, “If people are able to get something out of Silent Running that will help them, even if it is from our mistakes, then that will be satisfying to me”.
Also described in Silent Running, is the family’s search for appropriate schooling for the boys. The Schneiders actually wound up starting a school (The Eden II Genesis School for Children) with parents of children with autism in Plainview in 1995.
Alex currently attends the day program at Genesis, now located in East Meadow, and Jamie is in a self-direction program with the support of Genesis.
All photos below are courtesy of the Schneider Family.