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Silent Running

Our Family’s Journey to the Finish Line with Autism

Robyn K. Schneider, Kate Hopper (Contributions by)


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Running is a way of life for the Schneider family, but for them, it’s about much more than fitness and competition. Silent Running: Our Family’s Journey to the Finish Line with Autism is the story of how running saved their lives.  At 21 months old, identical twin brothers Alex and Jamie were diagnosed with autism. It was 1992, a time when autism was far from a household word, before online autism forums and advocacy groups even existed. Robyn and her husband Allan were heartsick, but determined to find a cure for their sons, and thus their journey into the world of autism began.  But soon it was clear that both Alex and Jamie had severe autism and would most likely not be cured. In Silent Running, Robyn Schneider takes readers on an intimate journey from a double diagnosis of autism, through many years of heartache, to a place of joy. Silent Running is a story of unrelenting love, of parents who never stop chasing after the silver lining, intent on finding happiness for their sons. And find happiness they do—in running. In Schneider’s moving memoir, readers see Alex and Jamie transformed through running, their lives enriched. And eventually they reach a place where running, rather than autism, defines them. Along the journey, both Robyn and Allan face their own personal challenges. Allan begins running to help manage his symptoms of multiple sclerosis, and Robyn, while undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, laces up her own running shoes, determined to run her way to recovery—for her family and for herself. And she hasn’t stopped. Despite their incredible daily challenges, Alex and Jamie have now run in almost 150 mainstream races, including nine marathons. And Robyn and Allan have been right there, either cheering for or running alongside their sons.
 In Silent Running, Robyn Schneider shares her family’s remarkable story of triumph in the face of enormous hurdles, and the passion that has fueled their fight. It is an extraordinary and inspiring story of perseverance and hope, and of never giving up.

Praise For Silent Running: Our Family’s Journey to the Finish Line with Autism

Silent Running is an absolute must-read for anyone who has ever heard the word ‘autism.’ Robyn Schneider offers up an honest and moving portrait of how, over time and with significant effort, the true potential that lies within each of us, independent of a diagnostic label, can be discovered and developed beyond most people’s expectations. There are no quick fixes or miracle interventions here.  Instead what we find is how, with dedication and patience, individuals with autism and their families can begin to change the misperceptions of those around them and, in so doing, discover included lives of competence, dignity, quality and, maybe, even some medals along the way." —Peter F. Gerhardt, Ed.D., Chairman, Scientific Council, Organization for Autism Research

“Running can be the best medicine in the world. It can heal us, relieve us of our anxiety, and even, if only for a few brief moments, remove us from the trials we face. Robyn Schneider knows all too well how powerful running can be in helping a family through the most trying of circumstances. Her story is inspiring and life giving. She is an example to us all on how to run through the daily trials we all face.” —Ryan Hall, Two-time Olympian, Fastest U.S. Marathoner in History (2:04:58), U.S. Record Holder in Half Marathon (59:43), Co-Founder of the Hall Steps Foundation

“In Silent Running, Robyn Schneider invites us into her world with her refreshingly honest memoir. Although Schneider's memoir would be of interest to anyone who has been touched by autism, it is a must read for any parent with a child afflicted with severe autism because it is a testament to how a family can create a meaningful, fulfilling life for their loved ones, despite the incredible challenges that the disorder creates on a moment by moment basis. Silent Running shows us that with effective autism treatment and lots of determination, we can squeeze out our children's maximum potential.” —Sabrina Freeman, Ph.D., author, Teach Me Language, The Complete Guide to Autism Treatments, Science for Sale in the Autism Wars, Autism: Now What Do I Do? DVD, Board Member, Association for the Science in Autism Treatment

“Robyn Schneider describes the challenges families face with autism, and how running can help in some unexpected ways.” —Jeff Galloway, Olympian and author, Galloway’s Book on Running

"The Schneider family represents the unrelenting determination of the human spirit that we find in long distance runners. We see time and again how those who discover the power of running are able to transform and improve their lives, and this story is a profound representation of running’s life-changing qualities. Silent Running celebrates Alex and Jamie’s extraordinary and inspirational journey while encapsulating the everyday essence of a runner—the triumphs, struggles, and joy that can emanate from putting one foot in front of another.” —Mary Wittenberg, President & CEO New York Road Runners

Silent Running is a stunning presentation of one family’s journey in raising twins with severe autism, chasing after and finding the silver lining at each juncture. It is an incredible story of perseverance and resilience, and of the power of unremitting love in helping two special young men reach their potential, snatching several stars along the way.” —Lee Wachtel, MD, Medical Director, Neurobehavioral Unit, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

"As a professional runner, a college track & cross-country coach, and much more so as a father of a non-verbal son on the autism spectrum, I could truly relate to both the euphoric feeling that running provides as well as the many challenges this incredible story about Alie and Jamie describes. This is a truly inspiring and heart wrenching story that defines the very premise of selfless parenting while glimpsing into the lifelong struggles faced by families with children on the autism spectrum." —Erik Nedeau, Amherst College Track & XC Coach, Olympic Trials 800 & 1500 Finalist

Silent Running is more than a story about autism and breast cancer and running; it’s about strength and love and making the most with what you are given in life. Robyn and her family are a testament to perseverance and the power of love. This book will resonate with anyone who has struggled in life, yet found joy.” —Ginny Salerno, Founder & Executive Director, LI2Day Walk - Raising Awareness and Funds for the fight against Breast Cancer on Long Island

Silent Running is an inspiration. Robyn Schneider is a warrior who has overcome one heartbreaking setback after another, from her twin sons’ diagnosis of autism to her husband’s MS to her own diagnosis with breast cancer. But through it all Robyn and her family never gave up on life, instead finding joy and healing through running. You won’t want to put this book down.” —Geri Barash, Three-time breast cancer survivor and founder, 1 in 9, The Long Island Breast Cancer Coalition

“If you want to be inspired by a woman who only wanted a level playing field for her boys then Silent Running is a must read. Alex and Jamie allow us to see a mother’s love and determination. The author Robyn Schneider makes our world a better place.” —Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., Former NYS Senator, Sponsor of NYS Autism Insurance Reform Law, President & CEO, Alzheimer's Foundation of America.

Triumph Books, 9781629370910, 256pp.

Publication Date: April 1, 2015

About the Author

Robyn K. Schneider was a VP in non-profit human services management and later worked in legislative affairs as an advocate for autism services. Robyn advocates for improving outcomes for children and adults on the autism spectrum as well as promoting the benefits of exercise for individuals with autism and other medical conditions. She’s written articles and blogs on topics related to autism, and she and her family have been featured in numerous major media outlets. Robyn lives in Great Neck, New York, with her husband and two sons. For more information about her and her family, visit: and Kate Hopper is the author of Ready for Air: A Journey Through Premature Motherhood and Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers. She holds an MFA in creative writing and teaches writing, leads writing retreats, and provides editorial feedback to writers. For more information visit