Fragile X Syndrome (FRAX) is a rare genetic disorder which causes developmental delays and mild to severe learning disabilities. It is often associated with autism or autistic tendencies.
Whilst male and female children can be born with Fragile X Syndrome, boys tend to be more greatly affected.
Physical Activity with Fragile X Syndrome
Most people with Fragile X Syndrome are able to exercise and take part in physical activity and a tricycle is an excellent way to achieve this. The most important thing is to find an activity that is fun, enjoyable and engaging.
Providing the physical activity can then be made safe for those requiring a higher level of supervision, and any equipment supports the user appropriately, people with FRAX benefit enormously from exercise and fresh air.
Cycling for Fragile X Syndrome
Learning difficulties are a prominent feature of people born with Fragile X whilst autism is also common. When a trike is equipped with a fixed drive and foot supports, those with FRAX usually learn to pedal very well, but the decision making skills of steering, braking and general safety are often a serious challenge. However this need not be a barrier to biking.
Tomcat’s Carer Control is an optional accessory with several important advantages for children, teenagers, and adults with Fragile X or similar learning difficulties.
When a rider lacks the cognitive awareness, decision-making skills or physical strength and coordination to safely control the speed, steering or braking of a tricycle, Carer Control enables a pedestrian carer to control those essential functions from behind the trike as the rider pedals. This means there are no practical limits to where a Tomcat trike can be used.
With Carer Control, the rider pedals the trike in the normal way whilst the trike is steered by the carer who moves the control arm to right or left to steer and pulls back on the control handle to brake. Speed can also be controlled by gripping the handle lightly then walking at the desired speed. If the trike accelerates away, either through an incline or a willful rider, the trike applies its own brakes and slows the trike to the carers walking speed. The system is designed with force multiplying geometry to ensure that even the most enthusiastic riders cannot overpower the carer and steer inappropriately. When stopped, a park brake can be applied that prevents the trike from moving unintentionally.
Carer Control also incorporates Carer Braking. With Carer Braking, the control arm is removed so the rider has full freedom to steer themselves however, the carer can attach a strap to the system which when pulled upon, applies the brake. In this way, the rider can enjoy their independence but the carer always has ultimate control.
Another useful resource is our Dual Axle innovation – a push/pull switch that changes the trike drive from fixed drive (normal for FRAX) to free-wheel (conventional drive). This is often valuable when a rider is in transition between the two skills. It is also useful during a seizure or distressed behaviour as it allows the trike to be pushed without the rider pedalling. It also allows the trike to be converted to a trailer for towing behind a bike.
Bionic Buddy is a battery powered drive accessory that attaches to most Tomcat Trikes built after June 2016. Unlike most e-drives which are capable of 28kph and require the rider to pedal, the Bionic Buddy does not require the rider to assist and has a top speed of 3mph/5kph – a brisk walking speed. In this way it is ideal for use with Carer Control and is obviously a great asset in hilly regions or where rider compliance is unpredictable. It can be removed when not needed, can be engaged or disengaged as required and can be controlled by the rider if safe to do so.
Finally, trike transportation is a very valuable trike feature for any adventurous family. For most people it takes only about 10 seconds to fully disassemble a carer-controlled trike, ready for the boot of the car and as with all Tomcat transportable technology, it is entirely tool free.
Building trikes suitable for children and adults with learning disabilities is a major part of the work we do and many Tomcat innovations have been developed from the need for solutions to those difficulties. We always custom build such trikes to the users specific requirements, partly because it ensures the longest possible lifespan, but also to ensure that we have full control of the project and can guarantee a successful outcome.
However sometimes an unusual solution is needed, either because of the condition itself, or perhaps because of a family lifestyle issue. In these circumstances we design and build a unique solution for the customer, some of which may join over forty others on our innovations portfolio whilst some may never be needed again – either way, we learn from the process whilst our customers know they will benefit from the very best service and expertise in the industry.