Mumbai:

Preparing a child for a 48-hour endurance inline skating event could be a challenge for even the most hard-nosed parents. And if a child has autism, the task appears more difficult.

But city parents Janice and Bryne Rodrigues ensured their 11-year-old daughter Joanne and nine-year-old son Brydan, both of whom have autism, completed the task at Shivganga Skating Club, Belgaum. The non-competitive event was held a fortnight ago to create a record for the Guinness Book of World Records.

The duo participated in a congoline skating event in which 50 to 70 children are placed in a team. The team is divided into divisions (A, B, C…) with children from division A starting first and for an hour before the next division takes over. Each child skates for an hour over a fivehour period and the cycle continues for 48 hours.

For Bryne and Janice, the biggest achievement was the understanding they received from parents of other “normal” children. “Many parents were initially unaware of the challenges we faced but, at the end of the event, they wanted selfies with our children. It was a proud moment for us,” said Bryne.

Due to their children’s condition, Bryne and Janice were the only parents permitted into the central area reserved for skaters. “We would delay preparing Joanne and Brydan till the last minute because once they wear their equipment, they want to immediately skate. If not, they would become aggressive, biting us or giving us other ‘punishments’. Some parents were initially shocked by their behaviour,” said Bryne.

Managing the break was another issue. The couple developed a technique of quietly waking up the children when the rest period was never more than three to four hours. “Luckily, they were never cranky after resting,” said Bryne.

The children learnt skating with coach Vinod Pal. “I took up their training as a challenge,” said Pal who had to put up with temper tantrums. “I realised they would tag me as unfriendly if I moved away from them when they bit or hit me. I would hence continue to stay close to them even during their tantrums. Eventually, they started trusting me and I could train them.”

(L to R) Bryne, Brydan, coach Vinod Pal, Joanne and Janice at the skating event held in Belgaum a fortnight ago

V.Anand@timesgroup.com

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