Showing posts with label bicycle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bicycle. Show all posts

It's As Easy As Riding a Bike?

I have posted a lot about Dyspraxia and its many symptoms, but in case you missed it this condition affects balance and coordination among other things, such as executive function.  My daughter has a lot of anxiety and fear especially in regards to physical things as a result of this neurological difference.

A is going to be 10 in eleven days.  I know this because she has been counting down for quite some time.  She is just like any other "tween."  She plays with her iPod, wants American Girl stuff, has sleepovers, and likes to shop at Justice.  You would never know, unless you were her mom or an insightful occupational therapist, that she "has" anything.  I had/have the same thing but when I was a kid it was just called being uncoordinated, or clumsy.  Clinically, they even called it "clumsy child syndrome."

Anyway, every year in the spring A and I decide that we are going to have her master the two wheeled bike.  We vow that we are going to ride every day.  It usually winds up to be once a week or so until it gets too cold in the fall.  Sometimes it is even less than that due to frustration.

A actually CAN ride her bike.  She got the hang of the balance part finally last year.  She has not ridden since the fall but today when she got on her bike she rode about a quarter of the way down the street right off the bat.  However, then she inexplicably turned the wheel instead of staying straight on the sidewalk and went into the grass and stopped.

That was her longest run.  She continued to get scared and turn her wheel into the grass throughout the half hour ride.  When she sees a turn coming up ahead, even though it is a good distance away, she starts turning her wheel this way and that instead of going in a straight line.  Sometimes, she realizes she has been riding for a while and then she gets nervous and thinks of something bad happening like her crashing and then she goes and crashes.

It is hard for her to plan.  It is problematic for her to judge distance.  It is difficult for her to be fearless.  Going uphill is a nightmare for her because of her low muscle tone.

It is challenging for me to help her, especially when I am also helping my six year old son who is probably going to surpass her on the bike this summer.  It is also difficult for me because I turn into my dad and find myself doing to her what he did to me: acting angry to try and push her to do well or constantly critiquing.  I start to feel as frustrated as her.  I try not to show it, but I know it comes through sometimes.  I act tough like a coach, "Okay this time I want you to keep the wheel STRAIGHT!  You CAN do this!  The grass is hot lava!"  None of this helps.  It just puts more pressure on her.

Now that she has mastered the balance, we really just need to conquer her own thoughts.  I am not sure how to do that except to try and make our practice time as stress free as possible.  I am not sure how to help her with steering or judging distance.  The only advice I can give her is not to think about it too much.  She'll turn when she needs to just like when she walks.  So far, telling her this has not worked.  I think I need to ask an OT.

To learn balance last year, it helped for her to sit on the bike but walk instead of pedal and every now and again lift up her legs and glide.  If she felt like she was going to fall she could just put her feet down.  This was less scary than me running along with her holding the bike and then letting go.  She was able to master balance at her own pace.

Since we have been finishing school early lately, I am going to try and do the bike with her every day if I can and if she is willing.  My son is in public school so this way it will be just the two of us.

Anyway, riding a bike is not easy and I think the phrase "As easy as riding a bike," is ridiculous!  There are a whole lot of skills to be mastered in order to ride.  Some can do this without thinking and once they get it down it becomes second nature, but that's not the case for everyone!
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