Connor Aston is 22 years old and has been attending BikeAbility Wales cycle sessions with his carers from The National Autistic Society day service regularly for 2 years. Connor has autism and is non verbal. He has made enormous progress using a number of our cycles after starting off with carers support on one of our side by side companion cycles.
How has BikeAbility Wales helped Connor?
Connors carers have said attending BikeAbility Wales has helped Connor by;
Initially Connor was reluctant to get on the cycles and wouldn’t leave his support worker’s side. He would frequently turn to his support staff for reassurance by the means of a scratch on the head.
After a couple of weeks of coming to BikeAbility Wales cycle sessions, Connor became more familiar with the venue and started to ride on a companion cycle with his carer. In time he has become more relaxed with BikeAbility Wales staff and its venue and needs less reassurance. This has resulted in him being happy to either ride on companion cycles with his support workers, or cycle a fixed wheel trike on his own.
Shahid Altaf, who has been supporting Connor (National Autistic Society), said ‘Connor now interacts with strangers more confidently and independently. Bikeability is the only place he interacts with strangers and leaves his carer’s side and does not need constant reassurance.’
At first Connor would only respond to his support staff and wasn’t happy meeting strangers and wouldn’t engage with BikeAbility Wales staff or volunteers. After a while his confidence improved as he became more familiar with the sessions and the environment. Over time Connor’s interaction with people has developed significantly. He will now greet BikeAbility Wales staff with a knuckle shake, then goes to choose a helmet and cycle for himself. After having a ride he independently approaches the staff to pay for his session, getting money out of his wallet and handing it to staff, while waiting for a receipt. He then signs thank you and again knuckles shakes to say goodbye.
Initially Connor would only ride a companion cycle supported by a carer for 5-10mins with little interaction or interest in pedalling. Connor will now happily ride on a trike independently pedalling himself with a worker close by for 20 minutes to half an hour.
Shahid stated ‘Connors parents are amazed he goes on cycles and can now pay for himself. Other staff are also amazed at what Connor does at BikeAbility.’
At the start Connor would only sit on a companion cycle and be cycled around with his carers doing all the work without contributing to pedalling or steering. Using the fixed/freewheel feature on the cycle, and with lots of encouragement and support from staff and carers, it has been possible for Connor to learn the essential skill of moving his feet to pedal. Once he understood the action of pedalling staff felt encouraged to try Connor on a single trike. This was a massive step forward in Connor’s cycling skills development. Connor now confidently rides and is learning to steer a trike on his own with the support workers walking beside him.
Shahid says ‘In the beginning Connor was using a companion bike and was very shy and did not interact with staff at BikeAbility. Later staff started Connor on a trike for a time each visit. Now Connor rides a trike and chooses and wears his helmet each time. He looks forward to Wednesdays and is very happy to interact with staff at Bikeability. He enjoys paying for himself and choosing different bikes on his visits.’