Toby’s Story

Toby shows off his Freedom Wheels bike
Toby shows off his Freedom Wheels bike

Everyone should have the opportunity to learn to ride a bike and is a skill that should not be taken for granted. For Toby, learning to ride a bike has been life changing.

At 9 years old, Toby was diagnosed with autism and this affects his balance and core strength. Toby’s mum, Tamara, first encouraged Toby to ride a standard bike but because of his condition, this seemed impossible.

“Toby’s balance was unstable so a bike was recommended for him to assist him with his balance. That’s when I first became aware of TADWA through the Local Area Coordinator. She told me about TADWA and gave me a phone number so I got in contact with them,” says Tamara.

To make getting a bike possible for Toby, his mum applied for a community grant from Bendigo Bank to cover for the funds of having a customised bike designed by TADWA. Once Tamara received the news they were successful she arranged an appointment and met with Occupational Therapist Manager, Camille Wakefield, and Operations Workshop Technician, Alan Hill.

Alan went through with Tamara what the best solution and customisation that Toby needed for his bike. But Tamara was worried and had many questions running through her mind. Her biggest concern was how was it going to be possible to fit the bike in the car? “I was worried and feeling unsure of how I could fit this bike into the car. I didn’t think it was going to be possible but Alan was full of faith and they made me feel like it was possible,” says Tamara.

TADWA began working on Toby’s customised red bike and 6 weeks later, it was ready. “Alan showed me how to use the bike and to dismantle it and put it in my car”.

Toby started his program with his physiotherapist, which included a bike riding schedule. This would help to prepare him and to build up his confidence. After 6 months, Toby is now riding all by himself Tamara says, “the first few times he was riding by himself we were shell-shocked he could do it and were screaming in delight that he was doing it.”

Toby is proud; he likes to tell everyone about his bike riding. “Toby has told everyone at school, he even asks perfect strangers “do you know I can ride a bike?” He just thinks about it constantly,” says his mum.

“He loves it when his brother rides with him, that is a huge milestone,” says Tamara. Once the stabilisers came off Tamara says Toby looked like everyone else riding a bike. “Best thing that ever happened to us”.