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A Way to Ride a Bicycle with your Autistic Child

What is the Best Bicycle for Autistic Children?

If you’ve ever started an internet search for “bike for child with autism” you’re not alone. One out of every 36 children in the United States has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). That number represents so many families who are looking for ways to help their children get the most out of life, with and in spite of their challenges. Autism is a complex disorder that covers a very broad spectrum of different intellectual, behavioral, and physical challenges—so if you’ve met one person with autism… you’ve met one person with autism. They are all unique. Some kids with autism will take to bike riding eagerly, while others might have sensory issues that repel them from trying. Others may have significant motor issues that make it hard to coordinate and balance the physical actions necessary to ride a bike—at least for the time being. Physical and occupational therapists may use balance bikes to help neuro divergent children during sessions. And beyond autism, there are many other conditions, such as Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, and others that might make it hard for parents who want to get their kids on a bike to actually do that safely. So while we’re discussing the best bicycle for autistic children, let’s understand that we are actually talking about adaptive bikes for special needs children of all types and their families—across the entire, very broad spectrum of neuro divergency.

What Do Parents of Special Needs Kids Want in a Bike for Special Needs Children?

A lot of things, really. They want a biking experience that is safe, first of all. They also want the biking experience to be fun for their child. There’s nothing a parent loves more than seeing joy and hearing laughter from their child, special needs or not. Beyond that, they are looking for bikes that can be adapted to fit the needs of their children as they grow and develop, perhaps even keeping a door open to helping their kids learn to ride a bike on their own someday, if at all possible. They want their children to take part in the joy and freedom of being on a bike. It may seem like a tall order, but avid bikers are designing a lot of liberating and inclusive special needs bicycles right now.

And like a lot of parents of any children, neurotypical or neurodivergent (often both), they are looking for more ways to save the planet by not driving a car so often. They’re looking for a way to save money from ever-increasing gas prices while doing their part not to pump quite so much CO2 into the atmosphere. They’re looking for fun ways to stay in shape and get outside more often with the family.

If parents were avid bike riders before they welcomed a neurodivergent child into their lives, they likely want to find a way to include their child in their love of biking as well. Nevertheless, that can be a real challenge, especially for parents of children with significant motor development difficulties.

But probably one of the most important things parents with special needs kids want is for their children to thrive and have the same kinds of experiences and opportunities that neurotypical kids have. They yearn for inclusivity. Experiencing the exhilaration of riding a bike, or at least being on a bike is one of those core memories that a lot of parents want their neurodivergent children to have too. And why not? The good news is that we have ways of making this dream a reality!

What Kinds of Special Needs Bikes Are There?

While in past years, there haven’t been many options for parents who wanted to get their special needs children on a bike, there has been a boom of designs in this space that is exciting for all of us. In this article, we especially wanted to share one of our most popular special needs 3 wheel bikes. We have been hearing from a lot of parents of special needs kids about their experiences using our EVRYjourney Electric Tricycle Rickshaw 750w as a way to introduce the thrill and fun of riding a bike to their children, on and off the spectrum.

While there are many new adaptive bikes for special needs children being designed all the time, parents of neurodivergent kids love the EVRYjourney and how it’s freeing them up to get riding again and helping them provide an exciting, fresh-air experience for their children.

EVRYjourney Electric Tricycle Rickshaw 750w: Overall Best Bicycle for Autistic Children

The EVRYjourney Electric Tricycle Rickshaw 750w is really the best bicycle for children with special needs who want to be able to experience the fresh air and whoosh of speed from cycling, but who are as yet unable to pedal or balance on their own for solo bike riding. We thought that sharing some stories from some of our riders with special needs kids might be helpful:

Zoe’s mom sent us an amazing video showing how much fun her neurodivergent daughter had on the back of the EVRYjourney Electric Tricycle Rickshaw. You’ll notice in this video how Zoe’s mom also made some adjustments to the bike to help with some of her daughter’s sensory-seeking issues and additional safety features. Here are some points that she shared:

1. A Special Needs Bike with a Comfortable, Cushioned Rickshaw Seat with a Seatbelt

The EVRYjourney Electric Tricycle Rickshaw has a very sturdy, comfortable back-positioned rickshaw seat that will hold up to three small children or two regular-sized adults. In addition to the built-in seatbelt, Zoe’s mom demonstrated how she fitted an additional harness to the seat to help Zoe stay securely upright in the seat, due to her motor control difficulties. As Zoe grows, she will be able to re-fit and adjust the harness attachment to fit as needed.

2. An Electric Tricycle Improves Safety for Riders and Passengers

With three tires on the road, the chances of tipping or flipping with precious cargo are significantly reduced. Not only because of three points of contact on the ground but because the EVRYjourney electric tricycle has big, 4-inch wide “fat” tires that roll smoothly over pavement or packed trails. The shock absorption is also excellent, so kids who startle easily will be shielded from unpleasant bumps along the road.

3. Safety Accessories Can Be Added

In addition to the extra harness that Zoe’s mom added to the back rickshaw seat, she was also able to add some netting around the foot zone to keep Zoe from trying to put her feet on the tires while traveling, which could have created a safety issue for her. To keep Zoe from trying to grab the tires with her hands, she fitted a little basket to the armrest as well. That way, Zoe can’t touch the tires at all, but she can feel the interesting textures on the basket. Naturally, the most important safety essential for all bike riders is a helmet, which you can see Zoe wearing in the video.

NOTE: Neurodivergent kids may have different levels of sensory seeking or sensory avoidance. For example, it may take some practice getting used to wearing a helmet for some kids. We suggest doing this around the house first until they feel comfortable enough to do it on a short bike ride. Giving your child the chance to experience and explore safely, at their own pace, can take some of the stress out of new experiences.

4. Travel at Safe Speeds

The EVRYjourney Electric Tricycle Rickshaw 750w has a top speed of about 15 miles per hour. While this isn’t going to win you any speed contests (nor should it), it is a nice, safe speed at which to take your kids out for a spin around town, to the park, to school, to therapy, or wherever you want to go. Taking it a little slower also enables neurodivergent kids who might be overstimulated by the speed to adjust more easily to the sensory experience of being on a bike outside.

NOTE: If your neurodivergent child is easily irritated by lights or wind and speed, but you still want to help them enjoy the bike riding experience, start with slower, shorter rides first. A little bit around the block. Just to the end of the street. A couple of blocks. You can also work with their physical or occupational therapist on working up to these sensory experiences, which can help them enjoy more things in life generally that might be overstimulating for them now.

5. The 750-watt Motor Gives You the Flexibility to Exercise or Enjoy

Parents often forget themselves in the hectic swirl of caring for a neurodivergent child. We’ve seen it so often. They give everything they’ve got to caregiving that they often forget about their own needs. This is why we are so passionate about getting families out on bikes, regardless of ability level. With all the safety features and add-ons available for the EVRYjourney electric trike, parents can truly enjoy the ride as well. The fresh air, the journey, experiencing laughter from the back seat, knowing their child is having a good time while they are also having a good time… It’s priceless. And the 750-watt motor helps with this. You can decide if you are up for pedaling under your own power for the exercise, or, if you’re tired after a long day of caregiving or work, you can let the powerful, rechargeable motor do the work for you. Or if you’re somewhere in between, you can share the work with the motor by flipping the “pedal-assist” switch. Either way, you can decide which one works best for you that day. Take a load off and just enjoy the ride and the fresh air for once, OK? You deserve it so much!

6. Built-In Cargo Space Can Be Expanded

Another incredibly helpful aspect of the EVRYjourney is the ample cargo space under the seat. You can stash all kinds of gear and groceries under there, safely and securely. In addition to the built-in cargo space, you can add even more cargo space! Try attaching a front basket, saddle bags, or pannier bags to make real travel even easier. You can stash literally all the things you might need on a day out with your special needs child so that wherever you go, you can be prepared for anything.

7. You Can Go Pretty Much Everywhere with the EVRYjourney

With safety, cargo space, and the freedom to travel, sans automobile, with your special needs child wrapped up into one wonderful electric trike, your environmentally-friendly travel freedom just got a major boost. If the weather is nice, take the kids to school on the EVRYjourney. You can load their backpack and school things right into the cargo spaces. Making a special, autism-friendly dinner, but forgot a few ingredients? Take a trike ride with your kiddo to the grocery store and load up on what you need. Is it story day at the library? You know what to do. Have you just been cooped up in the house for too long and need some fresh air? Buckle your child into the back seat and go for a ride through the park, to the beach, or to a hard-packed forest trail to enjoy the outdoors. Is it time for occupational or physical therapy? You know what to do. Load up on the EVRYjourney. Physical and occupational therapists love to get special needs kids on bikes when they’re ready for it, and knowing that you’re helping your child work up to a love of riding bikes in this way is incredibly satisfying. Since the motor’s battery can go up to 50 miles between charges, you can go a lot of places throughout the week, even if you want to go on full motor power. And if you use your bike time for exercise, you can extend that range even further.

8. Comfort for the Caregiver: Electric Trike Ergonomics

Parents and caregivers for neurodivergent children are literally the hardest working people we know. And one thing they simply do not have time for is getting sick or injured themselves. In addition to the fact that the EVRYjourney Electric Tricycle Rickshaw is a very safe ride, we put a lot of design magic into making it super ergonomically comfortable for the rider. The fully-adjustable seat can accommodate riders between 5 feet tall and 6 feet, 4 inches tall! The trike can carry a total of 500 pounds (with everyone on it). But it’s not just that. The bike frame design is super ergonomic. From the pillowy, cushy seat that makes it feel like you’re sitting on a cloud to the handlebars that swing back toward you so you don’t have to bend or lean or hunch over to reach them—everything has been designed to keep your body comfortable for long rides. The step-thru frame makes it easy to mount or dismount quickly, depending on what’s happening in the back seat. The low center of gravity gives you the stable ride you need to focus on the road and your child in the back too. The pedals are different too. We moved them forward just a bit so that pedaling is ultra comfortable, removing any strain from your knees, hips, or back. The leg extension is comfortable. The handlebar grips are also super cushy (giving you the sensory experience of softness your child might be jealous of). And the gears and brakes are easy to control right from the handlebars, giving you an easy, quick way to stop, start, and adjust to hills or other terrain, etc. The whole idea behind the EVRYjourney is to make bike riding for families with special needs kids so easy, simple, and comfortable that it’ll become your default way to travel every day.

Fun Fact: We all know that choosing to ride a bike over driving a car can help lower our carbon footprint. But UCLA also found that the more bikes there are on the roads compared to cars, the less noise pollution we have too! For parents of neurodivergent kids who are sensitive to noise, this is great news and more reason than ever to make biking more common than car driving.

9. Handlebar Tablet Tells You When to Recharge

Another thing you won’t have to worry about with the EVRYjourney is mentally keeping track of how often to recharge your trike’s motor battery. The center display mounted on the handlebars has big, easy-to-read lettering that tells you your speed, how much juice the battery has left, and whether you’re using pedal assist or full motor power. If your kiddo is sensitive to speeds, you can easily lower down to something that is more comfortable for them.

10. There’s Enough Room for a Helper or a Friend!

As previously mentioned, The EVRYjourney Electric Tricycle Rickshaw 750w has enough room on the back rickshaw seat for 3 small children or two adults. So, within that configuration, you could also have another helper ride on the back seat to keep an eye on your special needs child as you cruise around town. If your child doesn’t really need a helper, they would probably love taking a friend along on a ride with them. It’s a chance to expand social opportunities!

The EVRYjourney Electric Trike: Adaptive Bikes for Special Needs Children of All Ages!

Up to this point, we’ve focused on the lifestyle and quality of life boost that parents of younger children on the autism spectrum (and other neurodiverse conditions) can enjoy with The EVRYjourney Electric Tricycle Rickshaw 750w. Then we recently got this awesome video from PJ’s dad. PJ is an 18-year-old with Down Syndrome. Both PJ and his dad are thrilled with their e-trike. Since PJ is older and bigger, the built-in seatbelt in the back is great for keeping him secure on the ride, and he can even invite a friend to come with him to go out and get cookies. In fact, PJ’s dad is also looking forward to taking PJ’s mom out on a date night with the bike for some much-needed couple time!

With all of the safety features and ergonomic design benefits of the EVRYjourney, this bike really makes it possible for people of all ages and riding abilities to enjoy biking again. Whether you are a family with a neurodivergent child who can’t (yet) ride their own bike, or you want to take your elderly grandparents for a spin to the park or to their yoga class, there are just so many ways that the EVRYjourney expands your ability to get your family and friends out of their cars and out in the fresh air. And there are so many good reasons to do this!

Fun Fact: UCLA also reports that a moderate increase in riding bikes over driving cars could halt between 6 and 14 million tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, making the air healthier and slowing down runaway global warming. In fact, UCLA also points to the fact that getting more cars off the road also decreases the amount of many other chemicals that harm the environment, people, and animals. The EVRYjourney makes it possible for even more diverse families to join in the effort to help clean up our communities and our planet.

How Can Biking Help Children with Autism and Other Disabilities?

Here at Sixthreezero we have been thinking a lot about this question, and receiving some great stories from parents. We’ve also been talking with occupational therapists and physical therapists who work with special needs children and adults and how riding bikes can help them.

Just to reiterate, there are so many kinds of neurodiverse individuals that nobody can just categorize them all in one group. Some kids on the spectrum can learn to ride a bike with just a little extra difficulty than neurotypical children. But so many kids with disabilities have a much longer road to biking, or a different one altogether. It may take weeks, months, or years of therapy and practice to help a neurodiverse child be able to enjoy biking independently. And some may never be able to do that on their own. Whatever the situation you and your child face, regular bike riding can still be a part of your life, and a big part, if you want it to be.

Here are some of the things we’ve learned:

1. Bike Therapy Helps Expand Horizons

As you were able to see from the wonderful videos shared by PJ’s and Zoe’s parents, getting out on the EVRYjourney tricycle rickshaw really opened them to new, fun, and exciting experiences. It gave them an opportunity to be outside, to go get cookies, to enjoy the wind and the sunshine, and to have good sensory experiences. Adaptive bikes for special needs children can help break down barriers of isolation and help them have more outdoors and social experiences that can be so hard for them to have. This has been important for parents of children with disabilities too, as the experience of caregiving in this way can often be isolating and lonely. Getting out on the EVRYjourney has been an overwhelmingly positive experience that brings their families closer together while also giving them more opportunities to engage with nature and their local communities.

2. Riding as a Passenger Helps with Sensory Stimulation and Growth

For some neurodivergent children, the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations of being outdoors can be overwhelming. Taking short, slow rides on the EVRYjourney can help children gradually overcome the overstimulation of these “ordinary” sensations that neurotypical people take for granted. Naturally, working with physical and occupational therapists can help in this process as well, helping children to gain the ability to more fully participate in and enjoy all that life has to offer.

3. A Lot of Neurodivergent Kids Just Need More Time and Practice to Ride on their Own

The motivation to learn how to ride a bike, which can help kids develop important motor and balance skills, increases when regular biking is part of a family’s daily routine. The EVRYjourney e-tricycle and other special needs bicycles can be used as part of a therapy routine that gradually builds a child’s strength and ability until they can ride on their own.

4. Benefits of Bike Therapy for Autistic Kids and Kids with Other Neurodiverse Conditions

In a recent study conducted by the Chairman of the Kinesiology and Human Performance Department at Briar Cliff University, Dr. Andrew Shim, followed several autistic children through a bike-riding therapy exercise that went three times a week and included about 15 minutes of cycling. In some cases, they used “balance bikes” without any pedals, but other special needs bikes were used as well. The study tracked how the children’s physical abilities changed over time. The study discovered that bike therapy significantly improved children’s bodily stability and motor control. A similar, yet different study even found that regular bike therapy helped boost autistic children’s scores in social interaction, speech, and coping skills that were borne out in better behavior.

5. Everybody Can Enjoy the Health Benefits of Biking

Moving back to some more UCLA research, the benefits of regularly leaving the car at home and taking the bike instead are impressive. They list several benefits that parents, siblings, and children with neurodiverse conditions can enjoy through regular cycling:

  • It builds muscle tone
  • It improves cardiovascular health
  • It boosts immune system response
  • It decreases stress levels and improves mental health (so important for families with neurodiverse family members)
  • It improves cognitive abilities

All that exercise makes it easier to sleep at night, and better quality sleep improves overall physical and mental health.

They found that the average person who switched from driving to biking to work (or school) on a regular basis lost an average of 13 pounds in their first year of switching modes of transportation!

There are just so many potential health, environmental, and special needs benefits to getting out on a bike more often! And the EVRYjourney Electric Tricycle Rickshaw 750w expands that option for more and more people with disabilities and their families!

Other Important Factors to Consider When Choosing Adaptive Bikes for Special Needs Children

So, if you are now looking earnestly for special needs 3 wheel bikes, you’ll want to decide what makes sense for you and your family. In addition to the features you’re looking for that can make riding with your child fun, safe, and convenient, there are some other things you’ll want to consider that can make your whole biking experience easier. This is particularly important if you are making a big commitment to biking on a regular basis with your child.

A. Is it Both Light and Durable?

First of all, if you plan to be the power pedaling this bike, you don’t want to be pushing on a load of bricks. Try to find a sturdy bike that has a lighter aluminum frame. Steel frames can be wonderfully durable, but they are so much heavier than you want to pedal. The good news here is that the EVRYjourney Electric Tricycle Rickshaw 750w is constructed with a very durable aluminum alloy frame that stands up to daily wear without any trouble and is a lot lighter to propel forward. (Of course, the motor helps there too! Don’t wear yourself out!)

B. Is it Comfortable to Ride for You and Your Child?

First of all, ergonomics is important for you as you pedal across town and around with your child. Features like adjustability and pedals that are slightly forward (like with the EVRYjourney) take stress of your joints while pedaling. Handlebars that you don’t have to bend over to reach are also important, so you can sit in a comfortable, spine-neutral position on your ride. As for your child, things should be adjustable for them too so that they are comfortable and don’t get overstimulated or irritated by discomfort or sensations they don’t like. That will mean trying out different options in person and reading and watching reviews from other parents of special needs kids to get their take on the situation.

C. How Do the Brakes Work?

It’s important to test how the brakes work and that you feel comfortable using them. Obviously, this is a safety issue. And it’s compounded by the fact that in addition to paying attention to traffic and road issues, you may have to stop quickly to attend to your child’s needs. If this is a bike your child will be using, it’s important to train them in a safe place on how to use the brakes too. The EVRYjourney Electric Tricycle Rickshaw 750w comes with disc brakes that you simply control from switches on the handlebars.

D. Can You Do Safe Test Runs Before Going on the Road?

Obviously, testing out any special needs bikes before using them is the optimal idea. If you do decide, based on your research, to get a bike without having the opportunity to test it first, make sure to ride it around in an empty parking lot, the backyard, or somewhere not on the road. Go alone first, and then, once you feel comfortable with how the bike works, bring your child into the picture too. Gradually work them up to being on the bike more and more often and for longer duration rides as they are comfortable.

Fun Fact: Car repairs can be expensive, and we all know that can cause a lot of strain on any family, let alone a family with neurodivergent members. While it's going to be important to budget for electric bike rickshaw repairs, the repair costs are going to be so much less than for, say, an actual SUV or van. While some aspects of electric bike repair will need an expert, if you have any friends or acquaintances who are good with bike tools (or you are good with bike tools), you will probably be able to manage a lot of your bike maintenance yourself! That will save you some money that you can sock away for more fun times with your family.

E. How Does it Work With Sensory Issues?

Here’s another reason to do safe test runs before heading out on the road: Children with autism often have sensory issues that may (or may not) pop up during a bike ride. Test out things like helmets, seat belts, seats, handles, and other aspects that your child will need to touch to ride on the bike to be sure that they feel comfortable there. A few spins around the backyard or a school parking lot may be just what you need in order to test these things out. The wind, traffic noises and dappled light flashing through the trees may also be overstimulating, so if that is the case, go on shorter rides first and then help your child work up to longer rides. These are also issues that you can work on with your child in occupational therapy or physical therapy.

F. Does Your Bike Have Weight Limits You Need to Watch?

The fantastic thing about the EVRYjourney Electric Tricycle Rickshaw 750w is that it has a total weight limit of 500 pounds. This is one of the highest weight limits on a bike for special needs children and their families. That should be enough to carry you, your child, maybe another child or adult, and whatever gear you pack into your under-seat cargo basket or additional baskets. It’s basically the SVU of all bikes, and it’s excellent for families with neurodiverse kids! Just keep in mind that the more weight you’re hauling, the more stress there will be on the motor, which means it might have to recharge more often.

How to Select the Right Special Needs Bike for Your Child

One of the most awesome things about riding a bike with your special needs child is that it can be a means of therapy and strength building as well as special together-time as a family. So as you search for “bike for child with autism”, know that getting the right fit for your needs is incredibly important.

Consider what your needs and wants are for your family and your child. If you are really into the idea of using your electric trike as a true substitute for the family car, the EVRYjourney Electric Tricycle Rickshaw 750w is going to hit all the points. You can carry people safely, you can adapt the back seat and the cargo areas for your special-needs child, and you can carry all the gear, groceries, and snacks you might need to make your day out with your child easier and more fun. It will give you more opportunities to spend time together as a family outdoors. It will give you the freedom to go more easily on the environment than you ever thought you could. It can help you improve your health and your child’s health.

If you are thinking about getting the EVRYjourney Electric Tricycle Rickshaw 750w, one way to know for sure if this is the e-bike for you is to saunter over to the FIT panel just to the right. Answer the questions there, and you’ll be given suggestions for bikes that fit you personally, and as a family. Decide whether your bike will be used mostly for commuting, family, therapy, recreation, shopping, etc. Fortunately, the EVRYjourney has such generous size and weight adjustments available that it can fit a very wide range of riders and passengers comfortably and safely.

Here at Sixthreezero, we love to spend hours discussing new ways to include more people in the fun and wonder of bike riding. We dream about ergonomics. We strive for inclusivity. We want more people to feel comfortable and happy riding bikes than ever before. A bike for every body and everybody on a bike, that’s what we like to say.

If you have any questions at all about the EVRYjourney Electric Tricycle Rickshaw 750w, any of our accessories, or new ideas for making more inclusive biking experiences possible for more people, we want to hear from you! Tell us about your experiences riding with your special needs children and let us know what we can do to make your experience more rewarding and enjoyable! Contact us today!


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