Cycling

In our quest for fun weekend and holiday activities, Sam’s tricycle has been a godsend. We are constantly aiming for variety in Sam’s life; things to do that aren’t us reading him books or watching an ipad, activities that get him out of his wheelchair.

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The trike offers all of the above, whilst also allowing a rare opportunity for Sam and Eli to do the same thing at the same time and pace. Both boys have got orange bikes/trikes, and we have just hit the moment when Eli has worked out how to ride his balance bike for longer than 2 minutes without demanding we carry it. Meanwhile, Sam has hit his stride on the trike.

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This means we can spend fun mornings in the park. Sam is happier, and more active, than he would be if we were pushing him in his wheelchair (and strangely less scared of dogs). The boys like racing each other, and I feel like we’re a normal family. Our boys are learning to ride their bikes together, on sunny days, in parks full of daffodils. We’re living the dream!

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We’re not the only ones who like the trike – people smile at us as we pass, much more than they would if Sam was in his wheelchair. I think a big orange tricycle gives people a way in – even legendarily unfriendly Londoners find themselves saying hello. One woman asked if she could take a photo.

We bought Sam’s trike last year. We got advice from various physios and had trials with two companies. There is no statutory (e.g. NHS) funding for equipment like this, and they are really expensive, so we took our time deciding what kind would work best.

The trike we decided on, made by a company called Theraplay, can be parent-operated from behind, so Sam can ride the trike normally with us pushing and steering. This allows it to be as normal a riding experience as possible, but with us doing most of the work. Sam chose to have an orange one.

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Whenever we consider buying big pieces of kit like this there’s a tension between enthusiasm and caution. Enthusiasm for the possibility of this being The Thing That Sam Loves, that he can use easily and effectively, that he is able to operate independently and generally makes all our lives brilliant and fun. Caution because we’re about to spend £1400 on something that Sam might not like, might not be able to use, and then we’ll have to work out how and where to store a huge white elephant and manage our disappointment.

This time the gamble has paid off. We have been slowly increasing the distance and speed that we push Sam. He now likes us going really fast. So far, we have been doing all the work – Sam’s feet are forced round as we push the trike forward, but we might be on the cusp of him being able to do some of it himself.

He finds holding on to the handle pretty tricky, but he can sometimes push the foot pedals round on his own now. We still hold the handle in order to steer for him but for a couple of metres we aren’t pushing at all – all of the forward momentum is Sam on his own.

This is the moment that I really hoped might happen, but was worried might not actually materialise. To pedal the trike, Sam needs to control his legs separately and time it right. It is difficult for him but, like so much that he does, he is trying really, really hard. Well done that boy! Well done that trike!

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6 thoughts on “Cycling

  1. Lovely pics lovely post. I hope my little boy will love his tryke at home soon too. we borrowed his one from school and he really cried will try again. Your story has inspired me to perservere! Thanks

  2. Dear Sam’s mom,
    You are a very good learning ally to your children.
    The trike is fab, and, as you noted Sam is less scared of dogs on the trike than in the wheelchair.
    It might be that the dogs can see Sam on a bike, instead of seeing him in the wheel chair…..?
    And that Sam is responding to the dogs “calmer behavior”
    Sensing is very interesting, I just watched Temple Grandin at Ted Talk this morning, after I read your blog.
    Spring is here and I love riding my bike too-so much a feeling of Freedom!
    Thank you for sharing.

  3. Excellent news!
    We had a trike for Ashley and found the circuits of the school yard did wonders for building his legs up and coordinating the left/right of his walking. It’s gone now as he is starting to walk independently but it did the trick at the time.

  4. I loved reading this, and the photos are fabulous. Sam looks so joyful and Eli too. We had similar bikes at our nursery (paid for by the education authority before the days of “austerity”). They were fantastic because it meant that children who weren’t mobile could zoom around the nursery with their mates. They learnt to use the trikes with varying degrees of independence, but on the most part it gave an added dimension to sharing in the outdoor play. Well done Sam. Looks like he’ll get many hours of enjoyment, especially as spring has finally arrived.

  5. Pingback: Sam can cycle! | Stories with Sam

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