Autism and Why We Hike

Autism SoulMy son had such a difficult first few years.  So many problems and health issues that accompanied his autism.  He is non-verbal, which severally complicates just about everything, his autism is severe, and add a good dose of epilepsy and hypoglycemia and my wife and I were always in a state of extreme worry with frequent bouts of panic.  We concentrated so hard on his autism and all it’s wonderful accompaniments that our health began to decline, especially my wifes.  With no family support and us being older parents we needed to make a change; we needed to stop trying to fix the autism and start fixing the family.

I also began to get concerned with my son’s level of physical activity.  He wasn’t running and jumping like other children.  He had no friends to horseplay with.  There were no sports he could play.  Fitness had to play a larger role in our families life.  The Kid spent more and more time on his iPad and in front of the TV.  Our health as a family, the stress, and really the fact that we weren’t having any fun weighed heavy on us.

We needed a change.  Autism was mentally and physically picking us apart.  We needed a new approach, a new strategy, a new plan, a new something.  I remembered that when I was young and our family would hit a low point for whatever reason, my dad would say “ok that’s enough, we are all going out to diner”.  Simple, for some it is routine, but for our family it got us out of the rut we were in and we had a little fun family time without any distractions.  With all that had happened with our son and the way we were struggling, we needed a vacation from our life.

We packed the car and headed to the mountains.  Completely unsure if leaving our comfort zone was wise, the comfort zone that was eating us alive.  We left the chores, doctor’s appointments, the endless parade of therapists through the apartment, and the internet research behind.  Driving out of the city, I instantly felt better.  The Kid didn’t seem to mind the four hour drive.  We were about to introduce a ton of change and completely destroy his routine.  When the mountains appeared on the horizon, I knew this would be good for us.IMG_1820

We set up the hotel room with all of the Kid’s favorite items and after the four hour drive he was so excited to have his iPad that he barely noticed the change in environment.  In the morning we hit the breakfast buffet, loaded up on energy and headed to our first trailhead.  We used A Canadian Rockies Companion Guide entitled Walks & Easy Hikes in the Canadian Rockies.  IMG_5323


We chose short 2-3 kilometer hikes that were flat trails.  We all loved the drive through the mountains and the hiking was beautiful.  Pictures don’t do the scenery justice.  We stopped often to have snacks and take in the scenery.  We fit in three hikes per day, one in the morning, afternoon, and evening.  Between the hiking, sun, and the fresh mountain air, by the end of the day we were all exhausted.  A couple hours of TV for us and iPad for the Kid and sleep was welcome and came easy.  It’s amazing how long the day seems when you don’t have a billion appointments clogging up your schedule.IMG_1834

We hiked for two more full days, taking in as much mountain air as we could until our bodies told us we had enough.  Surprisingly, the Kid only had one seizure during our trip and only one bad bout of that infamous searing diarrhea that autistic kids seem to get.  So, health wise, as a family, we didn’t descend too far into chaos.  Phisically tired, but mentally rejuvinated, we headed home to tackle the next round of appointments.

The moutains, the fresh air, the animals we saw, and the natural untouched nature we hiked through repaired some of the damage the years of stress and fear the Kid’s condition had done.  We felt it.  That energy you see so abundant in some and so depleated in others, call it health, spirit, or the soul, that energy had returned to us.  Not completely returned, but enough so we felt we could face the coming months.We agreed to return in a few months.  The benifits to my family were too great to ignore.  Hiking is easy and supports both the mind and body.

The simplest way to repair the spirit is to walk among the trees…and so we Hike.




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