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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jun 2006

    Teaching a big kid...

    Guys- I have a son who is turning 10 mid year. He is also a fairly tall, lanky kid for his age. The problem I have is in teaching him to ride a bike. To complicate matters further he is autistic.

    He will head out with his younger brother and friends to ride the neighbourhood but does so on a three wheel scooter. My understanding is that he likes the stability of the scooter but naturally it has some limitations which hold him back in keeping up with the other kids.

    We have previously tried to teach him on a 16 inch with training wheels but this was a couple of years back. Now his younger brother is showing more and more of an interest (we loaded the bikes and hit some trails recently and he loves it) I would like to include the older boy as well. I think in some ways he would also like to be more involved.

    Now, the problem I have is that he is a big kid so we are kind of limited in what is available to teach him. He can get very, very stuck in his ways if he lacks confidence and I worry that if he falls off in the early stages we will struggle to get him anywhere near a bike again.

    Does anyone have any advice as to how we can encourage him to give it a go, and also a set up that would give him the best chance of success which would lead to him enjoying it.

    Any ideas?
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  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    You could try a letting him start out on a larger version of a scoot-bike, at least until the whole balance things clicks. Just pull the cranks and chain off whatever bike fits him best.

    I'd also highly recommend some protective gear, at least knee/shin and elbow pads to start with; taking some of the sting out of the inevitable mess-ups at the beginning will help keep crash-induced discouragement to a minimum.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    My 10 year old with autism went through the Lose the Training Wheels program last summer and I can't say enough good things about it. They do a phenomenal job starting with specially made stability bikes. Then they transition the kids to their own bikes over 5 half day classes. If you check their website, you may find a course nearby. It is definitely worth traveling to. The sense of accomplishment the kids get from completing the class is amazing to see, and is a huge self esteem booster.
    | iCan Shine, Inc.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    May 2012
    I taught a 9 year old autistic boy to ride a number of years ago. I don't know what my advice is worth, but here's how we approached it...

    1) We removed the training wheels from the get-go... the hardest part for Andy was when things were changed - so yes, he was upset when the bike no longer had training wheels but I believe he would have been more upset riding with training wheels and then having them taken off (see note below).

    2) Over the course of four sessions we progressed from:
    - me holding the saddle and running the whole time with him
    - me letting go of the saddle for feet at a time
    - me letting go of the saddle but still running with him (he didn't always know when I'd let go)
    - him independently riding once I'd let go of the saddle.

    3) The final step, and the one that caused him the most angst, was learning to get going on his own (i.e. without me holding the saddle). He was prone, in times of anger, to swearing at me so I remember I was called "a bi---". lol. This was the part where I changed the game, so to speak, and he was very angry.

    Anyways, after about an hour and me using some little calming methods with him (which was, for him, discussing American presidents) he got it. We rode for hours on the days following - as the previous poster noted, he was very proud!

    Hope this helps, not sure if it will.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
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    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    My autistic son (now a teen) learned to ride at 10 without training wheels by starting at the top of the gentle slope of our front lawn and coasting down. At first he would drag both his feet then was gradually able to lift them. Once he had balance he progressed to pedaling along the sidewalk. During this learning phase he would get very angry at the bike, curse at it, throw it, etc. Eventually he became a capable "utilitarian" rider but, despite my efforts, he never grew to love cycling/mountain biking. Physical awkwardness is an issue with many autistic kids despite high intellectual function. They either work past it or they don't.

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