I used to be an avid biker. As a kid, I loved riding my bike down the gentle hill my house was at the bottom of. As I grew, I would travel through the streets of KW on my bike, processing big thoughts, little thoughts, no thoughts. I loved biking, and spent my first few pay cheques at Dairy Queen as a teen buying a "speed bike". Biking was my present, my future. For a few years, it was bliss.
But then. When I was 20, a dear friend was killed, biking after work. As in, one moment this beautiful young boy was alive, and then suddenly he wasn't. Brutally hit by a drunk driver. Ended, before his life really got started.
And so, I stopped. Immediately. My biking days were done. And, in the last 25 years, I have never gotten on a bike.
Maxwell not only has Autism, but motor delays. He has coordination and balance difficulties, as well as problems with endurance and fine motor strength. Unlike me, who can easily ride a bike, Max has always struggled. While my husband (a serious biker), has tried to teach him to ride, at eight years old, it was NOT happening. Max would attempt to ride, and would inevitably fall. He would be instantly frustrated, and refuse to try again. Who can blame him?
I was okay with this (my husband, not so much). But then Max told me, "I'm the worst runner in the class," he whispered, not looking at me. "I lose every race. I can't use a bicycle, either."
Until a program became available in our area. It's called "iCanBike", and was arranged by Kidsability. The program claims to be able to teach most special needs kids how to bike.
I have to admit I was skeptical. How could Max, who struggles with balance and coordination, learn to bike in a mere five days?
Each day I took him to this highly regimented program (during a heat wave!), he showed me how desperately he WANTED to learn to ride a bike. Had he ever indicated he hated the program, I would have let him leave.
Instead, Max went through 75 minutes each day of pedaling on a balanced bike in a NON-air-conditioned arena (circa 1950?), caring and enthusiastic volunteers by his side. Max went progressively through the program, until one day--OMG--he could ride!!!! I watched my child, so determined, so focused, suddenly be able to ride a BIKE, despite all obstacles, including one nasty fall which required bandages. Max persevered, Max kept on going, Max NEVER gave up.
So why did I?
Thanks largely to iCanBike, Max can now ride a bike. Let me say that again, a child with gross and fine motor problems can now RIDE A BIKE. Just like his friends. Just like HE WANTED TOO.
The other day, Max asked me: "Mommy, will you come riding with me?"
Max had no idea about my fear, about my past horror, about my ongoing phobia about ever getting on a bike again.
My only possible response?