A whole new world for Nathan
It’s taken a while for 15-year-old Nathan to fall in love with the thrill and joys of cycling. The diagnosis of Autism, Epilepsy and Development Delay has been a contributing factor to this. Here’s Nathan’s #tomcatstory
Not as easy as riding a bike
Nathan’s parents Tracey and Darren first came across the potential benefits of tri-cycling at their local hospital, when Nathan was approximately three years old.
“There were a lot of trike manufacturers with a number of different types of bikes and trikes that were potentially suitable for Nathan. However, after we tried a few trikes we quickly realised how different each one was. We needed a ‘carer control handle’ at the back of the trike so there was only one real choice for us – the Tomcat trike.”
Carer Control™ is an innovative, rear steering and braking tricycle that enables the carer to fully control any trike, in any situation, when walking behind the rider. Simply attach the carer control arm to the controller behind the rider; then move it left or right to steer, or pull back to brake. With all the features of ‘Carer Braking’ also incorporated, the Tomcat trike is instantly adaptable for every rider, in every high-risk situation.
Nathan’s first Tomcat trike was funded by Caudwell Trust, a charity that helps fund equipment for disadvantaged kids.
“The application process was fairly quick and easy. Once Nathan’s trike was delivered I just imagined he would get on and love it.”
Frustrations for all
Due to Nathan’s Autism, everything about the trike became frustrating and difficult.
“Nathan did not understand what he was doing, he didn’t like sitting on the trike, and he refused to peddle.
After quite a few attempts and a lot of frustrating encounters we decided to put the trike away and it went into storage for about 18 months, much to our dismay.”
Autism is a lifelong disability that affects how people communicate and interact with the world. There are approximately 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK.
“18 months passed fairly quickly, and to our surprise, Nathan went straight onto the trike and started peddling without any coaxing!
We think being that bit older helped and in general, he was a much happier boy. Even though Nathan cannot communicate verbally, his non-verbal actions told us that he loved riding his trike, so much so that we were averaging 13 miles a week!”
Eventually, Nathan outgrew his trike and his parents bought a second-hand trike which lasted him about five years.
Benefits of riding a Tomcat trike
Classed as a therapeutic piece of equipment Nathan’s Tomcat trike has helped him with the following:
- Built muscle tone in his legs
- Strength built through cycling has helped with his mobility and walking
- Opened a whole new world to him outdoors
- Transformed how he socialises and interacts with people
- A fun, healthy alternative to his wheelchair, which can act as a barrier to interacting with people
“Nathan’s Tomcat trike has transformed the way he exercises, the way he socialises with others – which can be hard as its non-verbal. It’s changed his life and ours.”
A new adult trike for Nathan
In September 2018 Nathan’s parents attended an event at a nearby school in Nottingham and met Martin Griffiths, Tomcat’s assessor in the North.
“We saw the Bullet and were totally blown away by it. Nathan took to it like a duck to water. We took a short video and some pictures that we posted on social media and well, it went a bit crazy after that.”
Friends of the family decided to create a Just Giving Page to raise funds for Nathan’s trike, anticipating it would take about 6 months to raise the amount needed to purchase the trike.
“I absolutely could not believe the generosity of our family, friends and the local community we hit £1,000 within the first week! We set up the page in October and by the end of November, we had all the funds we needed to purchase Nathan’s Tomcat Bullet. We were all gobsmacked and honestly, we cannot thank everyone enough who helped to raise the money – thank you from us all, especially Nathan!”
The Tomcat Bullet has allowed Nathan to go on supervised bike rides with his family. In March 2019 Nathan went on his first ride with the family:
“So the weather was perfect for Nate’s first official trike ride, Hassop station was our track of choice. He smashed it, it’s definitely going to be keeping us fit, trying to keep up with him!
Of course, he deserved the cake after all that hard work!”