This Dad-Daughter Duo Takes Long Hikes to Share Their Spectrum Adventures (Ian and Eve Alderman, hiking for autism awareness)

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Humans Outside Ian Alderman and Eve Alderman

How does spending time outside impact or help humans who are tackling life with various forms of neurodivergence or with an autism diagnosis? Dad and daughter duo Ian and Eve Alderman, who share both an autism diagnosis and a love of hiking, are navigating the world – literally – one hike at a time. With the support of mom Sarah, the Scotland-based family is teaching Eve to pair her unique abilities with the wide-world by doing long hiking projects for charity.

In this episode Ian takes a break from the trail to talk about their adventures, how spending time outside aids them on their life journey, and what other humans both neuronormative and neurodivergent may be able to find by spending more time outside.

Some of the good stuff:

[2:58] Ian Alderman’s favorite outdoor space

[3:44] All about Ian’s family and their outdoor story

[8:13] What autism looks like for Eve (age 9) and Ian

[12:09] How spending time outside helps Eve

[17:18] How they handle Eve’s schooling while hiking full time

[22:40] All about this year’s hiking project

[24:02] Hiking for charity

[28:13] What working through nature has taught Ian about his own autism

[31:55] Feeling vulnerable in nature and why that’s everyone

[32:33] What humans can find by going outside

[36:24] How listeners can support Ian and Eve

[37:37] Ian’s favorite outdoor moments

Connect with this episode:

Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.

Amy Bushatz: No matter who you are or where you go, heading outside even for a few minutes is always worth it. I’m your host, Amy Bushatz, and here at Humans Outside, we’re using the Humans Outside 365 Challenge to build a life around spending time in nature while hearing from fascinating outdoor minded. As a journalist for 19 years, I’ve let curiosity be my guide. After my husband’s injuries from military service, we started looking for a better way to live. That’s why we moved sight unseen to Alaska to see if an outdoor focused life was the answer. Since September, 2017, I’ve personally spent at least 20 consecutive minutes outside every single day no matter what to explore how nature can change my life.

Ready to hear from experts and outdoor lovers who make heading into nature just a part of who they are while we work to do the same ?Let’s go.

Here at Humans Outside, we’ve talked to over a hundred guests about what makes heading outside for them special, what they find there, what they do there, how it helps them, and their advice for you. We head outside for every reason imaginable, and nature has it all. But one of the things I’ve never explored here on Humans Outside is how spending time outside can help those who are tackling life with an autism diagnosis.

Today’s guest idea came from you. Podcast fan Erin hit me up through the contact forum and suggested I reach out to Ian and Eve Alderman, the dad and daughter pair behind My Spectrum Adventures. Both Ian and Eve are on the autism spectrum and Ian and his wife Sarah are helping Eve navigate her world by hiking outside while raising funds for autism awareness and support from their home in Scotland.

And they spend a lot of time outside. These are not people with small goals. For 2023, they’ve set out to tackle all 1,900 miles over 29 trails as they backpack all of Scotland’s Great Trails. Sometimes that means camping out. Sometimes it means nights in hotels or hostels or homes of people who are helping them. Sometimes it means heading back home to their own home at night.

I am so incredibly honored that Ian is joining me today during a trail break to talk about, well, their spectrum adventures, how spending time outside aids them on their life journey, and what other neurodivergent humans may be able to find by spending more time outside.

Ian, welcome to Humans Outside.

Ian Alderman: Hello there. How are you?

Amy Bushatz: Oh, I am so good. Thank you so much for joining me. I am in Alaska. You are in Scotland. So this is a very international call. It’s still amazes me that we can do this. We kick off all of my episodes of Humans Outside imagining our guests in one of their favorite outdoor spaces, like we’re hanging out with you somewhere that you love having this conversation. So if we were gonna be not in our respective indoor locations right now, where would we be with you?

Ian Alderman: I would probably living where we live, I’d probably have done a nice small walk, nothing major, a few miles probably up into the forests behind us and just find a nice little dry flat spot and we’ll just sit there.

Nice little vista in front of us. Maybe a wee cloud inversion as a cloud drops down there with the trees and we’ll just get a camping stove out and brew up a nice cup of tea, cause I am British, sorry or coffee in America. And brew up a nice warm drink and just sit there and enjoy it, to be honest. And just sip on that and just put the worlds to rights.

Amy Bushatz: No argument for me.

Ian Alderman: So yeah, so that’s probably what I’d be doing.

Amy Bushatz: Love it. Okay. So can you start by telling us a little bit about your incredible family? You, your wife, Sarah and Eve, of course. Where do you live? Tell us about you guys.

Ian Alderman: Well, we’re actually English. Although we live in Scotland, we can’t all be born perfect. So we moved to Scotland in 2010. Um, And yeah we moved there for jobs and employment originally, and it kind of went from there. We all did the usual nine to five working. I ran a business. Sarah was a teacher. And it just went from there.

And then Eve and Sarah got ill, like really ill, Sarah had cancer and at the same time Eve got diagnosed with a tumor on her back as well, and her life expectancy was 48 hours at one point. And we got told we won’t be taking her home again. So we were getting life geared up for me being a single man again. And luckily that never happened. Caused a bit of a uh, inward review of life and ourselves and our family and all that sort of stuff. From there, we confronted some of the stuff within me that I hadn’t really wanted to before, and that led down the whole route of autism and I went, went through the diagnosis, but Eve actually got the diagnosis before me.

So Eve actually went and got her diagnosis and then I went, it was about a year or two afterwards. Cause obviously there’s a bit of a waiting list and cuz I’ve obviously, we’ve got the NHS, which is all kind of a bit of a different system, I think, to what you’ve got over in the States. So we went through the National Health Service and got a diagnosis, but mine came after Eve’s. Sarah and Eve are obviously all clear they’ll find health-wise. We went, got the autism diagnosis and then we went into Covid lockdown, which was a really difficult phase. I mean it really was quite challenging cuz we are naturally outdoors anyway as a family. We always have been as much as we can and we were actually on trail at the time when when Boris Johnson and our Prime Minister at the time when that’s the first national lockdown.

So we had to get off trail and yada yada yada. So yeah, I think, I think we could go on quite a lot. But I think that probably about sums the historical aspect of it. And here we are now post covid, out of lockdown and trying to live life as much as we possibly can really.

Amy Bushatz: So how Eve was an infant when you found her tumor? She was one, if I remember reading that correctly. About one years old?

Ian Alderman: Ye yeah, she was about, yeah, she was just over one, 18 months-ish. And they, yeah, and they, she went to a period of quite of quite severe ill health. She was in the children’s ward, I think it was three times prior to that, and they, it was, I don’t wanna say a misdiagnosis, but it wasn’t diagnosed. And eventually we went there, my wife, for all intents and purposes, had a breakdown in the doctor’s surgery, and we were advised to take her straight to the children’s hospital down in Glasgow. We did that. They got her in within about two days or so. They gave her a general anesthetic put, gave her a full scan, and they found the tumor in her back on her spine. So, so yeah. And then obviously Sarah had hers as

Amy Bushatz: well.

Yeah. She is nine years old now and healthy.

Ian Alderman: Yes, nine years old. Fully healthy. It’s all historic. She barely remembers any of it, but she’s just as well. And so that’s good. And so Sarah, she went through her operations and that’s all clear and so yeah, it all fit strong and healthy with Yeah. And we’re look looking forward to what the rest of our lives would bring.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. Um, And Eve was how old when she received her autism diagnosis?

Ian Alderman: She was about four, five years old, just preschool. And then my diagnosis come a year or so after that. So she was actually quite young, which is quite rare, especially for children in general and especially girls.

But Sarah being a, she’s actually a high school teacher by trades and she’s actually done specialist training in neurodivergent education and it was statement to children. So whether it be autism, adhd, et cetera, et cetera. So special sort of needs. So she kind of knew what to look out for a lot more. So she noticed a lot more, the traits quicker than probably we might have done otherwise, or certainly faster than I ever would’ve done, so.

Amy Bushatz: Autism is, of course, we, you know, the spectrum’s in the title of what you have coined what you do. But it’s on a quote unquote spectrum because of how it looks for each person and how widely that can differ. So can you tell me how does autism look for Eve and how does it look for you?

Ian Alderman: Well, I think, well, like you said, it’s a spectrum and everyone who has autism sits on that spectrum.

Now, I don’t know technically what their, how we in the UK define it compared you do in the States, although I think it a lot of the technical diagnosis that the UK use links in with them over in the States, and there’s a lot of cross referencing and working together on the science of it all. But it’s all different for everybody. So there is a saying that if you meet one person with autism, you met one person with autism because everyone else is gonna be totally different. I mean, there’s the likes of me that is albeit bricking it, coming on, doing a live chat, being recorded with someone I technically don’t know, et cetera.

And it, and it, it’s a scary process, but I’ll still do it. Yeah. There’s other people that are just locked in the house. They don’t communicate or they can’t communicate. And it, and it’s truly life altering, life limiting. And then there’s obviously the mental health aspect of it. I mean, undiagnosed females are nine times more likely to commit suicide for example, there, there is a massive mental health side of it. Obviously it’s not, the autism is one thing, but obviously there’s a mental health aspect to touch to it. Anyway, I’m digressing. I do apologize. I tend to go off on a bit of a tangent sometimes. It’s more along the lines, certainly at the moment of social interaction. So if Eve misreads a lot and her ability to make friends and all that sort of stuff is difficult and challenging. So it tends to be more there. Obviously there’s all the other quintessential stuff that tends to come along with it. Certainly there are ticks, there are sort of repetitive movements, certain types of behavior.

Very sort of excited on rules on being quite regimented with stuff. If we say we’re going to go at seven o’clock, we go at seven o’clock and minute after, and that sort of stuff. So she’s quite like that, but she’s certainly not as far on the spectrum as some people.

Ah, and I can be like that, but for me it’s definitely more of the social side of it and the one thing that we, I think we do share to an extent, although in slightly different ways, is the sense of becoming kind of overwhelmed with stuff, whether it be noises or just too much going on. And certainly modern life, there’s a lot going on, a lot going on. Even looking at this iPhone screen, the amount that’s going on. And every time the clock ticks, the seconds I’m seeing it flash and it’s just, it’s a lot and it’s exhausting. Everything about it is exhausting, but in a way that I can only experience through autism. There’s nothing else I can do that gives a sense of exhaustion, like when you’re confronting aspects of autism. Becuase it’s totally different. It totally wipes you in every possible conceivable way you can think of. So yeah, I think that I, does that answer the question?

Amy Bushatz: Yes. It answers the question.

Ian Alderman: I hope so.

Amy Bushatz: And it makes me think about how we know, obviously here at humans outside, we think that going outside is good for everybody. That it’s like a whole life, whole health solution to so many problems of, so every single person, whether you are neuron, norm, or neurodivergent or whatever you’re dealing with, your emotional, whatever, going outside is great for that. So I’m wondering if you can talk to us a little bit about what differences you notice in Eve when you’re spending massive time outside versus when she’s just inside dealing with this.

Ian Alderman: Eve being outdoors is a fundamentally different human. She is totally different. Now the autism and the issues that she has are still there, but they’re considerably less and they’re more manageable and she has more confidence. She has, you just see her come alive. It’s where she wants to be, she asks to be. We don’t force her, we don’t make, we don’t push us here as a veto and everything, but she knows it’s good. She likes it. Because she can just be herself. So she’ll walk along the trail and you’ll hear us before you see us, cuz she’ll be singing. And at the moment we’re singing Christmas songs, quite loudly and out tune.

But you know what, so what? And it’s good and that that’s who she is. And it doesn’t matter the about, what action she does or she doesn’t do. And it helps because there’s less it’s less regimented, it’s less structured and it forces us to think kind of differently as well.

Because as you know, being outdoors, you can’t predict it. You can’t really know what’s gonna happen or where the right place is gonna come into for a break or I don’t know. So she is different in, she’s just different. She’s happy, she’s outgoing, she’s confident. She’s just plain different yet when she we’re indoors, we struggle with a lot of things. It’s not so much behavior cuz she’s not a bad kid, but we, but she doesn’t have that level of confidence, that outgoing behavior she does when she’s outdoors.

It is just, I mean, we call it a happy place and it really is. And it’s where she wants to be a and where she feels that she belongs and luckily so do we. So, so it kind of works.

Amy Bushatz: Do you see those things that help her outside that confidence and that freedom changing who she is when she comes back inside and helping her develop? Because as much as people like you, and I would love to spend all of our time outside, that’s not the modern life, right? Yeah. So do you see this, all this time spent outside as helping her become a more, I don’t know, I don’t, I wanna don’t wanna say better version because she’s great as she is, but develop inside?

Ian Alderman: Well, yes it does. I mean, obviously she’s a child. She’s naturally growning. She’s maturing and she’s learning about the world. But I think the process of being outside and what we’re doing and how we’re doing it will naturally breed confidence and becoming outgoing and learning about yourself, challenging what you think you can do and the limits you’ve got and pushing yourself.

So, yes, it does. It impacts massively, hugely. And as we were speaking about just before we sort of started this, about all the science of backs up being outdoors and the effects it has mentally, psychological, emotionally about the levels of cortisol and all the, and all these sort of trigger hormones, et cetera, and how it can help regulate balance them.

So it does, it helps anyone, but certainly for people who are sensitive to stimuli that’s especially modern with all the lights and the cameras and everything else that’s going on in vehicles and noise. And it helps tremendously. I mean, massively, I mean more than I think people kind of realize until you get into these sort of situations and you get yourself out there and you learn to embrace it, and you learn to realize what outdoors is like.

Cause it’s not all Instagram worthy perfect moments. And it is hard. It is tough. And when you’re getting battered by the wind and the rain and the snow and all the rest of it and you knackered and you went in late and the light’s failing.

Doesn’t matter who you are, whether you’re autistic or not, you’ve gotta deal with it. And you’ve got, and you learn strategies and you learn ways. And in my opinion, you probably learn it in the best way you can cuz you’re in outdoors because you, it’s natural. It’s normal it’s what we are predispose to be doing it as animals. And I think that it, it helps tremendously in, in every possible way. Hence why we all commit ourselves to spending as much time as we possibly can outdoors, walking, canoeing, swim, or whatever that may be, because the benefits are humongous and you can see it so clearly.

Amy Bushatz: Hey humans, just a quick break to remind you that if you wanna build your own outdoor habit, the Humans Outside 365 Challenge is a great way to get started.

Cool and exclusive Challenge swag, including a finisher, metal, and decal is waiting for you. All you need to do is visit Don’t get left out. Go to to learn more now. Okay, back to the show.

You really do spend as much time as you can outdoors. You are out there hiking six days a week, if I understand, and with a, with about a day off in between. So you’re out there, you’re doing the thing, you’re hiking the hikes, you’re backpacking. How do you handle Eve’s schooling?

Ian Alderman: Well, for us, it’s kind of a lifestyle choice. So it’s an adjustment. Now Eve is homeschooled and obviously we are quite lucky in the UK to be able to do that cuz obviously some of the laws around the world, even in Europe are quite strict on it. But obviously we are quite lucky in living in quite a liberal democracy. So we, we, we can do this. Sarah is a teacher by trade, so it helps, but it is by no means a requirement to be able to successfully home, educate, to be a teacher, have a degree, or even be that intelligent, to be perfectly honest, cuz there’s so many resources, so much help out there.

So we do it as we’re going and we do carry some resources with us. I do carry, for example, a tablet. As much as I don’t like technology, it has a place and it has a purpose. And like it or not, that is the modern world and it has to be embraced. So we do carry that and we use that for whether it be audio books or downloading visual books that we can read so she can learn obviously how to read, numbers, et cetera.

We do it as we’re going. We see information boards. We’ll read it, we’ll break it down. We do it as we are walking. We’ll be doing maths and multiplication and talking about sight words and spellings and letter sounds and science, and the list just sort of goes on and it’s actually quite easy when you get into it and you start thinking about it to integrate it into what you are doing on a daily basis anyway. Cause it doesn’t have to be this big, massive hoo-ha when you sit down with textbooks and print offs and whiteboards and all this other sort of stuff cuz it is ba, you know what I mean? At Eve’s age it’s relatively basic stuff. And I’m sure the time will come and we’ll need to sit down and we’ll really need to really work. Stuff if we are going through Pythagorean theorem or physics and all the way, and really, do you know what I mean? They’ll come that time and we’re trying to prepare for that anyway.

I’m sort of reading up and on physics and god knows what else to try to get myself a bit more clued up for it. But I mean, in the UK yeah, there, there’s IGCSEs, which are internationally renowned. I know that they do them in China and various other places, international schools. And that goes through one of the British awarding bodies, which has, which is internationally recognized, et cetera.

So it is all there, all the resources are there. So we kind of do it as we’re going. It’s integrated into daily life. We learn as we go and we change our approaches if required. I mean, Eves really into reading at the moment, so we’re really drumming into that as much as we possibly can. So only the other day we were sat, we were we were sat down drinking a cup of tea and we got the tablet out and we were doing words and stuff.

So it is quite, It’s quite simple. And then when you actually look at what they do in primary school, and you work out the actual time they spend learning compared to all the other fluff that goes on, whether it be playtime, registers, golden time, this time, that time, and you actually drummed down to the what they’re actually learning, the time spent learning. I mean, forget how they learn. In fact, they just sat in a desk looking at a board being told to recite A, B, C is actually quite small. It’s an hour, 90 minutes tops, if you’re lucky, on an average school day. But we can do that in the morning, and then whatever we do in the afternoon is extra and we can do it in the way that Eve wants to do it the way that Eve learns best.

And we can differentiate a lot better than even the most committed, the most passionate teacher could possibly hope to do when they’re looking at 30 children sat in front of them, there’s a limit. But obviously for us, there’s one.

Amy Bushatz: Right, right. And the outdoorsto help along.

Ian Alderman: In the outdoors, do you know what I mean? Exactly, so, so yeah but it’s, but as you know, being outdoors raises so many questions. How, and the why stuff green? I mean, but I mean, most people know it’s chlorophyl, but why is Chlorophyl green? Do you know what I mean? And it leads to a lot of other really quite deeper questions.

And you, that’s actually tangible. You’re not just looking at text or in a book. It’s real. It’s there. You can touch it and when you look at a proper information board looking at whatever it is in front of you trying to read about it, you’re not just reading it in a textbook and it’s some abstract little thing that’s not really relevant to you sat at that desk in the school in the middle of a city, it’s there. It’s real. So when you are reading it, you are learning it. She can see it coming to life before her. So it fires up more imagination and what she’s thinking and it, then it leads on to other stuff. And it is amazing. Even map reading I mean, how much, I mean, math goes into map reading when you’re looking at longitude, latitude, grid references, bearings.

Do you know what I mean? That’s all math really, isn’t it? And then reading this place names and counting your footsteps. It’s all math. So it’s quite simple to integrate when you actually take the time.

Amy Bushatz: Absolutely. This year you guys are hiking all of Scotland’s great trails. So can you tell us about those? Tell us about the great trails. What is this?

Ian Alderman: Well, Scotland’s great trails. I’ve gotta confess that I know a bit about them, but I probably don’t know as much as I should know about them because of the timescale we had in order to organize what we’re doing this year.

Cause we had other stuff that we were thinking about doing. Until we changed to the Scotland’s Great Trails. But it Scotland’s Great Trails are the long distance trails for Scotland that have received the award of being one of Scotland’s Great Trails for whatever reason, I dunno the exact criteria.

Amy Bushatz: Sure. But they’re designated by Scotland. Scotland said, these are the great trails here. They’re

Ian Alderman: They are, yeah. Basically, yeah. I mean, for example, like the West Highland way, most people have heard of the West Highland Way. It is one of probably the most famous of Scotland’s Great Trails. I mean, it’s only a like 1,900 miles, so it’s not particularly long in terms of American trails.

But add them all together. And you’ve got about 2000 miles, right of Scotland’s great trails. So it’s a bit under what is, well the Appalachian Trail. . So it’s a little bit shorter than that, but obviously it’s all over Scotland and there’s various sort of intricacies you’ve gotta be aware of, cuz some of them fork off and there’s two different parts Yada, Yada, yada. But yeah, they go all over the place. They crisscross Scotland. Some of them are urban, some of them are out in the sticks and out in the wild going across hills and mountains. They, it’s a, it’s very diverse. And they’re, one of the trails is even a canoe trail. So we’ll be doing about a hundred miles in, in a canoe, which will, which I’m quite looking forward to, so, yeah.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. And you’re doing the hike for charity this year.

Ian Alderman: We are doing it. Yeah. Well last, we always try and do stuff for charity. We’ve done stuff for charity for years and we’ve raised what? It’s got tens of thousands of pounds by now. But I mean, last year we raised about 15,000 pounds. We did that for the National Autistic Society.

This year we’re doing it for autism, for Scottish Autism. Okay. To raise money for them. Cause obviously cuz it’s a Scottish challenge. Specifically Scottish charity. So we’re doing it to raise money for them and obviously, talk about obviously autism and its impact and try and raise a bit of awareness, challenge some stereotypes and that, and it’s doing well.

It is. We’ve got a nice little following and so it, it is doing well. We’ve got a film crew coming out to us on Tuesday, so when we follow with cameras and boom mics and all that sort of stuff on Tuesday. So we’re quite look forward to that. So yeah, so we do try and make ourselves a available as much as we can.

Amy Bushatz: And, and you noted a little bit ago that Eve has a vote in everything. So I know this was not the adventure you originally planned as you just mentioned. So I’m wondering what was originally planned and I know Eve vetoed it, but what was the original plan?

Ian Alderman: We originally, we were going to, we thought about going to Ireland. and doing north to south because last year we did an end to end the UK. So we walked from the, well, the entire length and the most northerly to the most southerly via John o Groats to Landsend which kind of the quintessential British journey. So we did that last year. So we were looking at doing a long distance trail this year.

So we were looking at doing Ireland . And we were all, the other idea was to go into Europe and do the ca, I’m gonna pronounce this wrong, the Cameo, the Cameo de Santiago, it starts in France and basically goes through Spain and whatever you, so we were touring with that, but in the end, we chose the Great Trails, or Eve did, even though it’s the longest and we are doing that one. So there, that was the other two. We were gonna through height, the length of Ireland which would’ve been about 1200 miles. that we, we had planned. Or obviously going into Europe. I’m not sure how far that one is. About 600 miles I think. But yeah, so we ended up in, in Scotland. Next year? Don’t know. There is at the moment, there’s a discussion next year of, albeit very briefly of going to Nepal to try and get to the Everest base camp.

Amy Bushatz: Because Eve is fascinated with Everest. Eve loves Everest. She’s got a picture of her bed, if I remember all that.

Ian Alderman: Oh yeah. Yep. That’s her obsession. That’s, yeah. Everest. She wants to go up there. You ask her independently, it is one of the best conversation topics she can have with Eve, get her talking about Everest. She knows the different names of it and the different languages and that, and she knows it. She wants to go up it. One of the she doesn’t talk to people like at all. She’s pretty much nonverbal with strangers. But she has gone online and she’s spoken to Sherpa over at Everest. There’s a female doctor that puts together all female teams many of disadvantaged females that Eve spoke to. And she’s got involved with her that do Everest attempts. So yeah, so, she’s got our backing and our blessing and we’ll support her. She wants to try and get up there. So yes, so next year we might be, I don’t know. I dunno. It’s been a very brief discussion, but we might be going.

Amy Bushatz: You got a whole, you have a, when we’re recording this, it’s February. You have a whole year to think about it. So,

Ian Alderman: We do. Well, currently what we’re doing we’re hope, hoping to be finished by Christmas. Cuz obviously we don’t set massive time scales on what we’re doing cuz it’s a lifestyle choice. It’s not a , let’s get this done and let’s get back to normal life, or let’s get back into the education. This is what we do. So there we don’t push it. So, although we could push it a lot harder and probably guarantee we’ll be done by October or whatever. We don’t push it to be done by a certain date just because it’s a lifestyle and the end of the day, she’s still only nine years old and we don’t wanna break her. But usually she’s the one that keeps us going. If there’s anyone that’s gonna break it’s or does break it is usually me. So it’s not her.

Amy Bushatz: What, what is doing all of this taught you about working with your own neuro divergence, with your own autism?

Ian Alderman: Oh God. It challenges you in ways that like, like we spoke about earlier, that you just don’t really get when you are in a town or in a city or just live in the nine to five. Cuz you just kind of, in, in autism it’s called masking. You’re just copying people. You’re trying to just fit in. But in the outdoors you don’t have to do that. You can just be a bit more yourself. But it does force you to ahem, overcome certain challenges, not masking that, that’s a bit different but overcome some of them. Cuz obviously if it’s windy and rainy you have to just go on with it. Because last year when we were doing the John o Groats to Landsend , I can remember sitting in a tent one night and I was just crying thinking, how the hell am I gonna do this?

My pack was like well over 20 kilos. I was carrying winter gear for me and Eve, two winter bags, two air beds. The temp was getting buffeted nearly down. Um, We were just, we were coming around the coast of Scotland and we were hanging onto fences cuz of the wind and the muds like it, and I just cried.

It was just too much. But at the end of the day, you’ve gotta get up the next morning and get going again. You’ve gotta be there for Eve, and do you know what I mean? So, but don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing or it’s a wrong thing because at the end of the day, I’m a man. I cried so what? Men do. And I’m not afraid to admit my weaknesses and when I’m scared or fearful. And I think it’s important for Eve to hear that and know that and appreciate emotions and feelings. Cuz I think as I certainly struggle to interpret it, Eve definitely struggles to interpret it. So I think having it a bit more visible is a good thing.

So I do try and wear my heart on the sleeve a bit more. I’m certainly putting it out publicly on social media, which is what we try and do every single day, it’s difficult when I’ve written it all and I’ve said that I’ve really struggled on this bit it’s hard to press that publish button. Really hard cuz you don’t know who’s reading that. And it’s difficult, it’s really difficult.

Amy Bushatz: Right. But I hear what you’re saying. Completely. I think part of the power of nature is that autism or not, anyone who spends a lot of time outside has been in a situation where they are not entirely comfortable and possibly crying. When you talk about the outdoors and let it strip away, whether it is a quote unquote mask because of autism or just this mask that we all put up to say our lives are perfect, that’s a connection to other humans that you don’t get outside of those common outdoor moments. And you published a post recently that I just read about a hike through Glasgow. You’re doing a section hiking through Glasgow. You were on a section of the trail that is, but mostly the trail does not exist, it was covered in trash.

It was not a lovely day. You did not like being there. It was not the kind of trail that you like to do, which is in the, you know, nature and the wilderness. It was more city walking. And you caveated the beginning of this post to saying, I feel very negative. But when I was reading that, what I was thinking was he sounds very real. Like this isn’t negativity, this is just what happened. And those are, sometimes they’re the same thing, but that’s commonality is what makes what you guys are doing so powerful, which is this connectiveness that you’re working through, challenges. Yours and mine are different, but we, everybody has a challenge that they’re working through and heading outside can sure help.

Ian Alderman: That’s it. I remember that place. I think I even wrote that up, was walking and felt quite vulnerable, I believe, or something like that, I, I, well, it’s true and I think that, I think that people do, and I think regardless of how big and tough you think you are, I think people do feel vulnerable. They do have times when they struggle, and if by saying it out loud, it can help just one person then, good. And that, but at the end of the day it, it is real. And I do try and present it as real as I possibly can, but trying to be pragmatic and that, and make it readable and it’s difficult.

It takes a long time, but hopefully people get something from it. And if they hear me talking about it and trying to say what it’s like and they see that in themself, maybe it’ll help them. And that and yeah hopefully it does. Hopefully it does hopefully get some outside as well, cuz to be honest, yeah. And they get some outside into nature and they’re doing good.

Amy Bushatz: There’s all sorts of neuro divergence that aren’t autism. And I don’t wanna ex say that anybody has an experience that might be the same. And I also don’t wanna talk about medicine as if it replaces like nature as medicine replacing a doctor.

But you know, we talk about how it’s an actual beneficial quote unquote treatment without actually being replacing medicine. Okay. So with, yeah, with all of those caveats, with all of them. In your experience, why should neuro divergence humans look to the outdoors as a type of medicine? What is, why should they do it? Why should people listening to this pursue

Ian Alderman: that?

Well, I think that everyone, regardless of neurodivergent or not regardless, could look and should be looking to the outdoors and just deliver more wholesome life where you embrace the outdoors because like we said before, it is what we are meant to be doing. It is who we are, and I think we can cocoon ourselves in these bricks and mortar buildings with our TVs and our iPhones and all the rest of it, and think we something different and do something special.

And we are not. I mean, it was only like a few hundred years ago at best. We were still chopping trees down for firewood and stuff like that, and do you know what I mean? It’s who we are and it’s what we are meant to be doing and it, and forget the medical side. If you just look at the facts of the science of endorphins and all the hormones that you get when you are being outdoors and you are living more normally and just experiencing it.

It’s it, it’s psychologically so beneficial for happiness, for morale. It, I mean, I don’t, I don’t wanna sound like a hippie or just go on too much, but you, but just give it a go. Just get out there and give it a go and just feel the benefit for yourself and don’t, and go, don’t go out there with the negative, a attitude of this is a bit hippy, or I don’t like doing this, and yada, yada.

Just try it. Take your, Take your shoes and socks off and walk on the grass and actually think, how do you actually feel and actually think about it , and then obviously the benefits that you can then take home with you. It just, it’s. I dunno. I could go on and on and I it’s just, do you know what I mean?

It’s just right. It’s just, I mean, you honestly, people that go outside and spend time outside, you tell me one person that genuinely isn’t gonna benefit in some way, even if they do it in their own way, because it doesn’t have to be big. I mean, we try and live outside as much as you can do, but it doesn’t have to be big.

Just go for a walk around your park. Do you know what I mean? Just go and sit in your garden, go and plant some plants on your balcony if that’s all you’ve got in your flat, or buy a pot plant for in your house. It doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be grand, but just try the best you can. Just bring a bit of the outdoors indoors if that’s all you can do, because the benefit you, you can gain, it is factory. It is scientifically proven. So embrace it and embrace who we are and what we are. We are no different to the animals and the birds and the bees and just enjoy the outdoors. Enjoy just get getting out there. And it doesn’t have to cost a lot. It, I mean, yeah, I know there’s a lot of big marketing gimmicks out there that you need this, that, and the other for getting outdoors and, but the reality is the more you get into it, the more you realize you don’t need it and you can cast it off.

Amy Bushatz: How can listeners support you?

Ian Alderman: So, yeah, We’ve got, well, we’ve, we’re on social media, so you can go on to Facebook and Instagram. Give us a like, give us a follow. We’ve got a website you can subscribe to. We’ve got a buy me a coffee account so you can buy us a cup of coffee or a hot chocolate flavor if you want.

They’re kind of, I think the the main ways we’re all, we get tons of messages. So if you want to contact us to have a chat or we are here, we do try as best we can to respond to every single email message that we get. So yeah, support us and we’ll do our best to support you. So we’re always. Yeah. And if you’ve got a few spare, wed we do enjoy a good cup of coffee

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Out on the trail for sure.

Ian Alderman: And obviously uh, rounding it all off. But at the end of the day, what we do is for charity. We’ve gotta a Just Giving page. So if you’re feeling that way, inclined, we’ve gotta Just Giving Page, go and have a look and see what you think.

Ian, thank you so much for joining us

Amy Bushatz: today. As a final thing, would you describe for us a favorite outdoor moment that you’ve had maybe on the trail with Eve, or, I mean really anywhere that you like to think about some, something you’d like to go back to?

Ian Alderman: I think that we get asked this all the while by people we meet and messages we get sent.

And the reality is I can’t honestly turn and say there is a best place because it depends on how it feels. I would say in recently the best feeling we had was getting to the end of the other day when we were walking, cuz we were just finished with it. But there’s been other times when we’ve been donated, a lodge to stay in after we’ve done a whole day’s walk. It’s been throwing it down, freezing cold, the wind chills put it well below freezing, and then you’ll come into this lovely little wooden cabin with the heating on and they’ve left to borrow chocolate on the counter in the kitchen and oh my God, the feeling is overwhelmingly it’s, do you know what I mean? So that’s what it’s about.

It’s not about, it’s not about the location. It’s not about what you can see. It’s about how it feels. And if it feels good, then it’s the best time in the world. So, and, but one thing that I do, And I would say absolutely is the best feelings come after the hardest work or the biggest challenges. You’re not going to get them unless you’ve worked, unless you’ve actually put some into it or you’re starting to struggle, cuz it doesn’t come easily. So the harder you work, the better the reward. So challenge yourself because you’ll have the best time of your life afterwards.

Amy Bushatz: Ian, thank you so much for being on Humans Outside with me today. I sure appreciate it.

Ian Alderman: Thank you very much indeed for having me. It was a privilege. It was really nice talking to you.

Amy Bushatz: Thanks so much for listening to this week’s episode of Humans Outside. Help me out by leading a five star rating or review wherever you get your podcasts. It really does help other listeners find the podcast. Now go get outside. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.

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