MAJOR MILESTONE! We bought our seven year-old son, Norrin, his very first bike. You may be thinking – what’s the big deal about buying your kid a bike?
When Norrin was diagnosed with autism five years ago, he couldn’t speak, point his finger or jump. He required intensive therapies in order to learn how to do all those things.
Over the last five years, my husband, Joseph, and I have gone through tricycles, big wheels and scooters. Norrin didn’t have the strength or the coordination to pedal a tricycle. And he didn’t have the coordination or understanding to ride a scooter. Eventually (and with a lot of practice) Norrin was able to pedal his big wheel. But he didn’t have the focus or motivation and he tired easily.
We worked for years with therapists trying to teach Norrin how to master at least one of his vehicles. But he never really did. And one by one, we gave the tricycle, the big wheel and the scooter away.
A few weeks ago, while at the playground with Norrin, I saw a father with his son. It was early morning and the father was teaching his son to ride his first bike. I watched as the father explained to his son what needed to be done. The son pedaled slowly, cautiously – his father walking beside him. After a few seconds the son pedaled faster and faster and yelled out “Look Dad! I’m doing it!”
I looked away as the father clapped, cheering his son on. Because, that’s when autism is tough: seeing such a special moment and wondering when or if you will have yours.
I knew Joseph felt the same way when he came home from work a few days later and said, “There are all these kids outside riding their bikes. Norrin should be out there.”
I knew that Norrin was doing better peddling, because his teacher told us he was practicing on a tricycle. And I knew that he enjoyed it because when he didn’t want to get off so that his classmate could have a turn. Still, I was hesitant on whether or not to buy Norrin a bike. But Joseph was so hopeful, so certain that Norrin was old enough to appreciate and enjoy a bike of his own.
That Saturday morning, we had our moment. And it was wonderful.