I recently read a blog post of an acquaintance of mine where the poster came clean about having gained back nearly the 100 lbs lost over the previous few years. This was particularly hard for the blogger because the blog had become a source of inspiration for so many trying to lose weight and get fit. What was the main reason for the weight gain? After watching food intake and running regularly, the blogger stopped doing both. Having reached the goal weight, the “scaffolding” was put away.
Recently it was suggested by some people who have a direct impact on Brooke’s education that certain support services be phased out or removed. The argument was made that she didn’t need them anymore, evidenced by just how well she was doing; that the scaffolding was no longer necessary.
There are short-term projects, there are long-term projects and then there are life-long projects. In both the short- and long-term projects, eventually, usually with some hard work, one will reach a goal, bask in the glory of achievement and then move on to the next goal. The supports used for attaining that goal can either be passed on to others or put away for the next time they become necessary.
But then there is the lifetime-goal or maybe more appropriately, the lifestyle-goal. I don’t mean Robin Leach’s “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” kind of lifestyle, I mean the “way you live your life” kind of lifestyle. These kind of goals, if different from the way we currently live our lives, demand changes in the way we go about doing things. They require us to buy into a system so to speak; to drink the kool-aid.
A few years ago I set a goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Using a variety of tools that included core work, interval training, tempo run and many others, I accomplished that. For quite some time afterward, I did not feel the need to push myself as hard. I still ran marathons (halves, fulls and ultras), but my approach to them changed. I simply wanted to be able to enjoy them and spread the enjoyment of them to those around me. I was able to put away some of those tools that I had used so intensely during BQ-training because I no longer needed them. I will pull them out again, in the near future, as I attempt to qualify for Boston again in either 2014 or 2015.
In the meantime, I do continue to run on a regular (and currently daily) basis. Why? Because I know that unlike qualifying for Boston (which is a specific point in time goal), I also want to live a long, healthy life and be physically able to care for my wife and children as long as I can. Physical fitness is NOT a “point in time” goal. It is a lifetime goal. Therefore that “scaffolding” that helps me build my fitness is not just scaffolding – it becomes part of the permanent structure.
Brooke has autism. She will always have autism. She will acquire skills and develop the ability to adapt over the course of time, but autism will always be a part of her. Those skills and ability to adapt come from the scaffolding that is put in place around her. It’s true that eventually she may not need all of the supports she receives and someday I hope that she will be able to live as independently and be as societaly productive as any of her neurotypical peers, but the tools will have to always remain present in one form or another.
I don’t see the logic in taking away support because the support is working as some administrators might suggest.
The same goes for fitness and health. It’s one thing to join a gym, take a class, change the way you eat or whatever works for you to achieve a fitness goal – just remember what got you there.