Bike Riding | Autism PDD


Thanks Kristy
That was very informative. We slacked off on the bike riding this summer as
my ds was riding his razor instead. We hope to have him riding without his
training wheels by October. I will have my DH (who taught my older two to
ride to look at yr post) Thanks again

I posted this a while ago buried in another thread, but I figured it might be a good idea to put it out there again.  I know many ASD kids have trouble learning to ride a bike, and tis the season for biking (at least here in the USA).  Since we did this with the boys last summer, we've passed on this technique to many friends who have all had the same success.

My dh read a book on biking with kids and there was a chapter on teaching your child to ride a bike.   It was a different approach than I had ever seen and I must admit I was a bit skeptical.  At the end of last summer dh took training wheels off the bikes and had both boys riding two wheelers like pros within 1 - 2 hours.  No falls.  It was amazing.  (Note that C does not have any gross motor issues, his skills in that area are on par with his NT twin.)

I'll try and summarize the technique.

1.  Get your own bike out and lower the seat so that both of your feet are flat on the ground when your butt is in the seat.  Then take the training wheels off of the childs bike and lower the seat as low as it will go.

2.  Show the child how to sit on the seat and pick both feet up off the ground and try to balance.  Count out loud how many seconds the child balances with no feet on the ground.  Make a game of it.  Demonstrate how turning the handebar can help balance.  Once the child can balance with both feet off of the ground for 5 seconds, move on to step 3.  (You are ignoring pedals throughout this entire step.  Feet should be in the air.)

3.  Show the child how to glide forward on the bike by taking "giant steps."  This is basically gliding the bike forward, butt in seat, by taking giant steps with alternating feet.  This is why it is important to start with child's seat at lowest level.  If seat is too high it is impossible to do this step.  Once child is comfortable moving up and down the driveway like this, move on to step 4.

4.  Have the child take 3 - 4 giant steps to get going, and then have the child pick their feet off the ground like they did in step 2 and glide with feet in the air.  Count out loud how many seconds the child glide without their feet on the ground.  Make a game of it.  (Note, we are still ignoring pedals, feet should be in the air.)  Once the child can glide for 8 - 10 seconds without putting a foot on the ground, go on to step 5.

5.  Have the child take 3 - 4 giant steps to get going, and have them pick their feet up like in step 4 and then tell them to start to pedal!  Once they get good at pedaling, start raising the seat up a bit to a normal height.

The key to this approach is to get the child comfortable balancing on a bike before teaching the child to pedal.  The old "run, push and let go" technique requires the child to learn to balance and pedal simulaneously and typically results in many falls, which can scare a child and make them not want to try again.

I know that tackling the bike issue is a big challenge for those with kids who have gross motor issues.  It may take a long time to get through the above steps.  However I think this approach is really good for ASD kids because it breaks the complex task into simpler skills and then builds on them.  It also greatly reduces the risk of falling/injury. 

If anyone has questions on this or wants to discuss further, please PM me and I can give you my phone number and you can talk to dh.  He's the resident expert in our home and can probably explain much better than me!


Thanks. We will try this with Tyler. He doesn't have any gross motor issues, in fact he is quite athletic. He loves going to Gymkana and he is pretty adept at "getting" the new stuff.   He has a problem with steering. He just keeps going straight until he runs into something with his bike. Go Figure.

Thanks Kristy...definitely going to try that with Mason and Jozlyn!!

He has no balance what so ever on his bike...I watch him everytime he rides his bike and he always leans so much one way or the other against those training you think he is ready for this?

I watch my DD (she is 4) and while riding she is pretty balanced and half the time doesn't even lean on the training wheels so I was going to start with her this weekend!  Definitely going to start the way you suggested with just sitting and keeping the bike balanced.

I would like to try with Mason too, but we took the training wheels off his bike last year for about 3 days bcuz after we took the wheels off he wouldn't go near his bike.

Thanks so much for this!

This and swimming were my main goals this summer..I got her to sorta swim..under water and about 5 strokes on top:)

   I havent even attempted the bike~mainly because she seems so adversive to doing it..she has a really cute BRAND new Strawberry Shortcake bike...with the basket..water bottle and training wheels..she totally ignores it!

   My thoughts were to take her to the running track down the street and let her ride it around but just havent done it..seems to dang hot right now..I hope we get to it before school starts:) Thank again..copied and pasted!

One other thing that helped us - we took ONE training wheel off and ds got to learn how to balance with just that. Then we would put it back on and take the other one off. Ds got really good at that and then we tried two off. He can ride with the wheels off - but turning around we are still working on.

Shelley - it's funny you mentioned goals. My goals were pretty lofty, I guess. Learning how to ride a bike without training wheels (we're pretty much there, besides turning around), learning how to swim better (he's doing much better, but we're still working on the breath thing!), starting to tell time (he can do the hours) and tying shoes (we're up to the step of making ONE loop). Lastly, we need to REALLY work with him on not pulling his underwear down to go pee. He just refuses to go through that "trap door" on his briefs, but I know the other kids in kindergarten will think that is strange. I have asked and asked dh to work with him on that (it's really something I can't SHOW him how to do!) - but he keeps forgetting - AARRGGHHH!

For me, it was all about preparing for kindergarten. I also wanted to work on learning how to write his numbers (somehow that got missed in pre-school) but I might as well be asking for the moon on that one! And reading - well, occasionally he'll work with me on sounding out a few words but then he gets angry about it and we stop. I'm hoping this goes better in kindergarten, but I keep persisting anyway. He can sound out the words, he just doesn't like to.

Guess I kind of switched topics here - oops! Thanks Kristy,  great tips.  I'm going to show this to DH as he's been talking about trying to teach Anthony this summer.  This sounds like a great idea.  Anthony, like C, has fine gross motor skills.  I am getting Sharlet a scooter for Christmas, she has never tried before. She
isn't even close to getting the bike thing, but I'm excited to see how she
goes with a scooter. We have wooden floors so she is going to use it in the

Thanks for posting this again, Kristys.  It was definitely instrumental to our success this spring, although we didn't follow the details to the letter.  For anyone who wants more info on what we did, you'll find it here: p;KW=bike

I have to ask this question:

What's the big deal with bike riding?

I did not learn to ride a bike until after I learned to drive a car and I have a good job with prospects, a mortgage, and a PhD ... My son's ABA therapists have made tricycle riding a goal and as far as I can tell this is not a goal that I'd waste valuable ABA time on.
My son has a problem with not being able to apply enough pressure on the pedals or something! He only rides his 3 wheeler and moves by pushing it with his feet on the ground. Once I get past that, this technique really does sound like a good way to teach a child to ride a bike.