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  1. #1
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    Autism and Cycling

    I have an 8 year old Autistic daughter.

    Anyone else out there with autism in the family and how do you deal with it in life and cycling?

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  3. #3
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    What issues? A friend of mine has aspergers, and is an avid cyclist. Autism is not a death sentence. It does not mean your daughter can't be successful, hold a job, have friends, or a good quality of life. She was born different, and there will be some challenges along the way, but it will be ok in the end.

  4. #4
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    Got these from googling autism bike riding
    http://www.autismsupportnetwork.com/...ycling-8902312
    http://www.buddybike.com/
    http://autism.about.com/od/childrena...portsideas.htm
    http://myautisminsights.blogspot.com...wandering.html
    http://www.minti.com/parenting-advic...utistic-child/
    http://www.autism-pdd.net/testdump/test18510.htm
    http://blisstree.com/live/freedom-of...hubs_migration
    http://applestars.homeschooljournal....riding-a-bike/

    We've only had one Asperger's kid in 12 years and he left almost as soon as he'd learned to ride - the rather freewheeling nature of the sessions (which depend somewhat on which youngsters turn up) may have put him off, since he very much preferred a strongly structured environment and, I assume, your daughter probably needs that even more so?

    Anyway, good luck and I hope the sites listed will provide you with enough info to successfully introduce your girl to cycling.

  5. #5
    Senior Member chandltp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smith-great View Post
    What issues? A friend of mine has aspergers, and is an avid cyclist. Autism is not a death sentence.
    Autism and aspergers can be a world apart. Even two people with aspergers can be drastically different due to the wide variety of physical traits that can manifest itself under the PDD umbrella. I'm sure the OP knows that Autism is not a death sentence, but sometimes we all need help figuring things out along the way.
    There are 10 types of people, those that understand binary and those that don't.

  6. #6
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    Everyone is unique, including those who fall on the autism spectrum. I was trying to get the OP to be more specific about what issues are arising for them.

    Parents of kids on the autism spectrum seem to think only about how their child is cursed. They seem convinced that their son/daughter will never have friends, never hold a job, never marry or have a family, and be dependent on them for the rest of their lives. While this may be true for some of the lower functioning auties, it's not true for the vast majority of Aspies or Auties.

    I know several people who fall on the autism spectrum, including my friend, an aspie and very avid cyclist, and my father, a high functioning Kanner autie. Autism can be a blessing, if channeled. It's helped my father, a bio-engineer, in his research.

    Both of them enjoy cycling and don't seem to have any issues riding a bike. I was simply asking the OP to include more details about what issues they are having.

    As for autism vs. asperger's vs. PDD, they are seriously considering dropping all the different labels and calling everyone on the spectrum-Autistic.

  7. #7
    Senior Member chandltp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smith-great View Post
    As for autism vs. asperger's vs. PDD, they are seriously considering dropping all the different labels and calling everyone on the spectrum-Autistic.
    Yea, I heard that somewhere too, can't remember where though. Might even have been our insurance. Could be a blessing since we'll get the coverage of the more "serious" diagnoses.
    There are 10 types of people, those that understand binary and those that don't.

  8. #8
    Senior Member chandltp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smith-great View Post
    Everyone is unique, including those who fall on the autism spectrum. I was trying to get the OP to be more specific about what issues are arising for them.
    Sorry, I misinterpreted your post. I read it as you dismissing the OP's concerns. I understand now.
    There are 10 types of people, those that understand binary and those that don't.

  9. #9
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    My son (7) has autism and prefers his tricycle to a bike with training wheels. I'm considering one of those "trial behind" bikes, since he's getting too big. Anyone have experience with this?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Porten2 View Post
    My son (7) has autism and prefers his tricycle to a bike with training wheels. I'm considering one of those "trial behind" bikes, since he's getting too big. Anyone have experience with this?
    The trail behinds work well. They vary in quality but are generally decent. Giant and Trek make them. Burley is by far the best of them.

    If you are planning on biking regularly, a tandem can be a better choice. More control and you can configure them to fit child through adult.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Porten2 View Post
    My son (7) has autism and prefers his tricycle to a bike with training wheels. I'm considering one of those "trial behind" bikes, since he's getting too big. Anyone have experience with this?
    If he likes his tricycle, start looking into adult tricycles. There is a huge variety of cycles available. Here's a good web site to get an idea of what is out there. Go to a decent LBS and see if you can't take a look at them first hand.

    http://www.industrialbicycles.com/Special%20Needs.htm

    While tandems are a great idea for family rides, the sense of autonomy is very important. Stick him on a trike that he likes and that fits him and he's more than likely going to ride it a lot more than if he had to rely on you to drive him around.
    Bicycles, Welding, and Women. burnmetal.wordpress.com

  12. #12
    Junior Member just Johnna's Avatar
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    I have a kid on the spectrum, but what that looks like really varies. I got him able to ride without training wheels at age 5, but we were still using the one-wheel-tandem-add-on a lot when he was 7 and 8. We could go on longer rides that way, and there was no need to shout out safety direction reminders.

    He's 10 now. A couple years ago he got fixated on road bikes, knows more about carbon bike parts and so on than I want to hear about. He still thinks I should buy him a $600 road bike, God bless the guys at the LBS who let him ride it around the parking lot. We can go riding now, he can lead or follow, can remember which is the right side of the road, maintain an appropriate distance from parked cars.

    Maybe you know someone who will loan you their kid-tandem-add-on to try it out? We had so much fun. He loved when I acknowledged how his pedaling really made a difference--Cracked him up when I stopped pedaling once in awhile. He's a talker, he liked having me as a captive audience when his bike was an add-on to mine.

    http://tickers.TickerFactory.com/ezt...a/exercise.png

    Any day I ride my bike is a good day.

  13. #13
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    I got a "Hitchhiker" off Craigslist for a good price to try it out. The first 5 slow sidewalk trips to the end of the block were filled with "I'm afraid." The next attempt he didn't try to jump off as soon as we stopped, so I kept going and even went into the street. I could see him in the mirror with the biggest smile and his legs pumping away. His trike was always a slow crawl, so I think he's getting the idea this way. I hope that eventually he'll be on his own, but this looks like a great intermediate step. Once his little sister is riding, he may get real motivated. If he never gets the balance down, I might check into the adult trike if he looks like he'll take to it. Good discussion.

  14. #14
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    What about something like this:

    http://lightfootcycles.com/trailertrike.php

  15. #15
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    The journey you and your daughter take, can be a very special one. Especially, when experiencing rides together. Our own story is a testament to the power of cycling and living life through adversity.

    www.injuryillness.com

  16. #16
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    My six year old is autistic and after a couple of rides, she fell in love with cycling. We put her on an Adam's trail a bike and she will ride as far as we can peddle. The motion of the bike really does something for her and she just enjoys it so much and begs to ride all the time.

    Her balance is really really bad and she is a very long way from being able to ride on her own. We do have a run bike (also called a balance bike) and she likes that, but is isn't something that she could do and keep up with us. I am hoping that using the run bike will improve her balance to the point that she will ultimately be able to ride on her own, but that is honestly years away.

  17. #17
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    My (just turned) 8 year old who is at the Asperger's end of things, wasn't into biking until recently. We took his training wheels off and the pedals when he was about five because he would ride all the way to the side and he wasn't getting anything out of the training wheels other than how to ride inappropriately. He didn't really like scooting on the bike but he loved a razor scooter. So he rode the razor like a maniac, and I knew he could balance, then about six months ago he started scooting on the bike a bit and kind of expressing interest. What I've found, at least in terms of riding independently (because we did have a trail a bike that my husband rode with him from 6-7 about twice per month) was we had to wait until he wanted to ride. What made him want to ride was the fact that others could and he couldn't. I was, however, afraid to teach him myself because if he fell it would be all over. So we took advantage of the lose the training wheels class that exists in various parts of the country (we're in Portland), and for kids with disabilities it's a week long. In any case, my kid graduated to riding on his own within the first hour of the program and spent the rest of the week riding around and practicing his skills on the street and sidewalk with the trainers. Now he's riding with me 2-3 miles at a time around the city (using bike lanes) with no problems other than we need to buy him a larger bike (which is why we're only riding short distances--it's mainly to practice in the bike lanes). So, the point of this story was to say that if you want your child to ride independently and not with a trail a bike, you might have to wait until there is actual interest from the child, and I'd also heavily recommend the lose the training wheels program!!

  18. #18
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    I should also add that he only occasionally pedaled when using the trail a bike, which drove my husband nuts. He mainly saw it as a large stroller and would kick back, sing songs, look around, etc. while my husband pedaled for both of them. I do think it helped him learn to ride just by being on it but it was hard for my husband. We also had a burley solo when he was little and he HATED it. He would scream and cry. He told me recently that he couldn't see well out of it, and he never knew when it would bump or jump and it was really scary.

  19. #19
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    Last post because I just read about some of the balance issues on here... One thing we did for about a year and a half was therapeutic horse back riding (not hippotherapy which is WAY more expensive) and that pretty much cured all balance issues and many other body issues as well. I knew the kid could ride a bike but it was confidence that was holding him back, so again, the bike program was really helpful to push him forward. But I really believe that the therapeutic riding made a huge difference in his life and solved all the leaning problems he had at age five.

  20. #20
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    I once did some volunteer work at a bike camp for children with Down Syndrome and Autism. I am absolutely *not* an expert in autism. Here is the group that ran the camp. http://www.losethetrainingwheels.org/ and here is the local organization that sponsored the camp, http://www.aim-high.org/what-we-do-t...ents/bike-camp

    I have no involvement with either at present but they would likely offer advice to anyone who contacted them.
    Brian Daniels
    East Nassau NY

  21. #21
    Senior Member trx1's Avatar
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    heres what a few r doing for a 15yr old with autism
    http://bmxmuseum.com/forums/viewtopic.php?id=179486

  22. #22
    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Good posts, great advice, but please - NOT "auties" and "aspies." Instead -

    Individuals (children) with autism or individuals (children) with Asperger's Syndrome.

    You wouldn't say "blackies." At least I hope not.

  23. #23
    Senior Member chandltp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    Good posts, great advice, but please - NOT "auties" and "aspies."
    Hmm... in most of my reading people with aspergers refer to themselves as aspies.
    There are 10 types of people, those that understand binary and those that don't.

  24. #24
    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    Hmm... in most of my reading people with aspergers refer to themselves as aspies.
    OK - I would be interested in other's responses. I am a parent/advocate for individuals with developmental disabilities, and have never heard the terms, but as I review the google search, I see that is a term that individuals with autism and Aspergers use to refer to themselves. Wiki suggests, however, that it is not appropriate for others to refer to individuals with autism as auties and aspies.

    Much of the developmental disability (and other disability) world works hard to get the world to use "people first" language - i.e., "individual (or person) with a developmental disability"

    As a parent, I would not want it - but heck, I've been around a WHOLE lot of years, and may be out of step with the newer world of autism.

    So, anyone else on "auties" and "aspies?"

    At the least, I have been educated a bit this morning.

    Thanks for the response and update. I am also writing the director of our local autism advocacy group for her thoughts.
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 09-29-10 at 06:51 AM.

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    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    A response from the Executive Director of our Autism Society here in Colorado, and the parent of a young man with autism:

    Hi Denver:

    I learned disability terminology when “people first” language was our expression of choice.

    All communication from the Autism Society was strictly moderated for people first language.

    I was fairly freaked out when, about 7 or 8 years ago, I first heard people with autism referring to themselves as autistics. I wondered if their self-referral language was similar to people who shared ethnicity and called themselves and each other idiom names that was reflective of solidarity that outsiders were not allowed to use.

    So, I started to ask people with autism if they were offended by the labeling language autie, aspie, autistics and was informed that no offense was taken by those I asked.

    In more recent years, I hear more and more self-reference in those terms, and enjoyment, pride and comradeship derived from those tags.

    I think what is known about autism is still so very little in relation to what we need to know. We are going to experience tremendous change in our knowledge base and our awareness and understanding as time moves on.

    For me, one of the most important features of autism is that each person is unique and how autism affects them is unique, so, we say, “Once you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism.” Like any disability label, lumping people into a category doesn’t change the unique character of every person with a label, of course, but it does affect public perception at a time when there are at least as many myths abounding as facts about autism.

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