Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

As Easy As…

with 19 comments

…riding a bike.

Last week at our fortnightly OT session, there was a young girl of about 10 in the waiting room.  She was tall, and beautiful with big almond-shaped eyes, and long hair that she nervously twirled with her fingers.  She was also uncoordinated, and perpetually in motion.  She had the hesitancy of someone speaking a foreign language, and seemed to be present, but elsewhere at the same time.  Just like an older version of Pudding.

As I studied the girl, her mother watched mine.  After the girls both left for their respective appointments, the mother and I began to talk.  They were with the military, and had been stationed at a base in England when her daughter was the same age as mine.  We chatted for a while about England, and local resources.  The mother mentioned that they were there because her daughter was still unable to ride a bicycle.

Pudding got a bike for Christmas from her grandparents.  She liked it immediately, but only to sit on, and put Ernie in the doll carrier.  She has vehemently declined any attempts to get her to ride it.  We weren’t too concerned.  Both Spectrummy Daddy and I were 8 before we rode without training wheels (stabilizers).  Pudding’s balance and coordination is far away from being up to riding a bike.  All in good time.  The lady immediately contradicted me.  She had waited and waited, but the balance and coordination never came.  Her daughter hadn’t cared in the early years when she was uninterested in her peers, but at around 8 she had made a couple of friends.  They could ride their bikes with ease, and she was miserable at being unable to join in.  She urged me to start right away.

She makes a valid point.  Balance and coordination probably won’t just magically appear, but will require lots of practice and repetition.  Pudding has never even rode a tricycle.  My parents bought one for her when she was around Cubby’s age.  She was content to ride on it as we pushed her along, but her feet just slipped off the pedals.  By the time our belongings arrived back from their trip to the Panama Canal, she had comically outgrown her trike.  Her grandparents bought her a bike for Christmas, but aside from ringing the bell, and putting Ernie in the carrier, she hasn’t shown any interest in it.  Of course, it is winter, so we haven’t been able to get outside for a while.  The ice has almost entirely melted away, it is significantly warmer now than it has been in weeks, so I resolved to give it a try.  We waited until the weekend so Daddy would be around too.

It was tough.  Even with training wheels, it was hard to get her to balance on the seat.  Her lack of body awareness means she can’t tell if her feet are on the pedals or not.  She doesn’t have the motor planning skills to propel forward, and when she turned backwards, the coaster brakes would cause her to stop abruptly, which scared her.  We didn’t even get around to steering.  And a helmet is a sensory nightmare too.  Whoever said it was easy to ride a bike has obviously not though about all the tiny, but crucial steps that need to be mastered.  They obviously have a brain that can process all these things simultaneously.

I find it incredibly hard to keep going when something is so hard for her.  I’m more than tempted to scrap the idea, and revisit when she has better body-awareness and strength.  But as Spectrummy Daddy wisely reminded me, we don’t give up.  It might take a while.  It might need to be broken into the smallest of steps.  We can master our frustration and learn patience, and Pudding can learn to ride her bike, one day.  The look of determination on her face is all the proof I need.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

February 15, 2011 at 12:29 pm

19 Responses

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  1. Keep going, if for no other reason than to teach her perseverance. Unfortunately our children will have many more obstacles in life and they need to learn this skill. But believe me it will serve them well in the long run. I think one of the hardest things for parents is watching our children struggle as they do, but that is our issue not theirs. Also the day she rides that bike alone will be the greatest celebration.


    February 15, 2011 at 1:02 pm

  2. Oh I know what this is like! Our girl is 9 and it is a challenge every year when she starts up again on her bike. This past summer was the best one she’s had for riding successfully, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel! She is taking gymnastics this year so I am hoping that gives her a bit more strength and helps with the coordination. Keep trying! We still have the training wheels on too, not quite ready for that new level of torment! We also got a “ready, steady, ride stick” that attached onto the back of the trike, then bike to make pushing and helping a little bit easier on the back!


    February 15, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    • Ooh, I’ll have to look into one of those. Where we live they have a “lose those training wheels” program for kids 8 and up that gets good results, apparently.

      Spectrummy Mummy

      February 15, 2011 at 3:17 pm

  3. Go Pudding! I don’t think people realize what a challenge “simple” things can be for spectrummy kids. You have really opened my eyes.


    February 15, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    • I had no idea either. In fact, with every new challenge I learn a little more about how hard things are.

      Spectrummy Mummy

      February 15, 2011 at 3:18 pm

  4. Lovely photo of Pudding on her bike.
    My *CAL is 10 and she still can’t ride a bike.
    She can write a poem and paint/draw the beautiful pictures.
    It’s hard for her, when she see all her class mates riding their bikes.
    I’m saving up to get her a Razorwing scooter. She can balance on these and really loves them.
    Thanks for the post.
    Love and hugs.
    Lisa. xx 🙂


    February 15, 2011 at 3:59 pm

  5. Same here 🙂

    Ella is 11 in a week and still can’t even ride a bike WITH training wheels *sigh*

    We have just left her alone about it now. SHe’s really not interested anyway 🙂

    GORGEOUS photo of Pudding and her Daddy x


    February 15, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    • It is a lot harder than you think. Having said that, there is an Aspie boy in my neighbourhood who is riding his at 6. Just goes on the individual’s balance and coordination, I suppose.

      Spectrummy Mummy

      February 16, 2011 at 7:13 am

  6. You might consider trying a “Balance Bike” to learn the balancing bit. There are no pedals, so you sorta push and glide, but it really works on getting the balance down in a way that training wheels cannot (they tend to make you have to learn balance a second time, after relying on them for stability). She might be a bit big for some, but they’re relatively adjustable. After Pudding uses it, Cubbie can try, if she’ll be willing to share. They’re good for all kinds of learners.
    Here’s a few examples:
    And this one is on a pretty good sale this week:


    February 15, 2011 at 9:15 pm

  7. Another good product are Fatwheels (www.fatwheels.com). They provide more stability than regular training wheels. Later you can put the regular training wheels back on to get that feeling of movement before you try it without training wheels altogether.


    February 16, 2011 at 9:24 am

  8. Great post, as a parent of a child with a speech and langugage disorder I too can appreciate the challenge of having to repeatedly try at teaching concepts over and over again and often being creative by breaking them down into smaller steps.

    Crawford Dedman

    Crawford Dedman

    February 16, 2011 at 11:40 am

  9. For whatever it’s worth, my son needed to learn riding a bike the same way he learned a lot of other things – broken into steps that are each learned separately. He learned moving the pedals separately from steering, steering left and right separately from balance, and balance separately from being aware of the boundaries of the surface on which he was riding. I seem to remember spending a good bit of time holding his feet on the pedals with my hands and moving them at the beginning. He’s needed this hands-on input in order to learn lots of physical activities, because he has motor planning problems. That affected his early efforts at speech, too. But once he has enough repetition of the motion with help, he can usually transfer that to making that specific motion on his own. I think it’s because we spent so much time early on working on things like riding a bike, throwing a ball, swimming, etc., that he looks and feels pretty comfortable doing them now. The swimming has been especially good for him, because the water provides a lot of feedback about where his body is moving. He still runs kind of funny, but you can’t have everything. 🙂


    February 17, 2011 at 9:30 am

    • Pudding loves swimming too. I think she will be the same with riding a bike, we’ll really need to break it down for her. It is too difficult to be very motivating at the moment, but I think a balance bike will help with that.

      I run kind of funny too, one of the many reasons I avoid doing it. 😉

      Spectrummy Mummy

      February 17, 2011 at 12:52 pm

  10. […]  But the fact that she was even touching a bike was a big deal.  After I wrote last year about our attempt to teach Pudding to ride a bike, we’d tried several more times, but with even less success.  When we moved, we bought her a […]

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