I’m sure many a special needs parent has nightmares about it. I know I have. ‘Am I doing enough?’ (Probably not) ‘Should I be doing more?’ (Probably) ‘Would he be sitting/standing/walking by now if I’d just squeezed in an extra half hour of tummy time/time in the standing frame/a few more stretches?’ (Unlikely in fairness).

It’s the guilt that gets me with therapy.

I always feel like I’m not doing enough and Hugh likes to make me feel like I’m making his life a living hell by crying dramatically and forcing himself to go to sleep. Wrestling a screaming, thrashing child into a standing frame that looks like a gaudily decorated Victorian instrument of torture is not my idea of a fun-filled morning. It’s not Hugh’s either – no matter how many bubbles I blow or how many toys I place in front of him. I know why standing frames are important, but I must say I am eternally grateful that, now he is in school, that specific form of daily torture is inflicted by his teachers.

And with it out of my house I no longer have to feel guilty watching the dust gather on it as it stands hidden under a mountain of washing and unopened junk mail, taunting me that my son’s inability to stand is more to with my lack of perseverance than with his jelly-like limbs. If only physiotherapy could be more fun… You can imagine my delight when I discovered the Tomcat trike– an amazing trike that offers the elusive combination of being fun AND good for him. And, dare I say it, a bit more ‘normal’ too. Being strapped to a Hannibal-Lecter- Style bright yellow device for 45 minutes a day might well be good for strengthening hips and leg muscles, but you can’t go to the park in it! The trike offers Hugh the chance to ‘play’ with his big brother Sean, whilst also exercising his little jelly-legs. Tomcat offer individual assessments and a range of trikes to suit the individual needs of the child or adult.

Hugh using his Tomcat Trike
Hugh using his Tomcat Trike

Hugh has a ‘Tomcat Tiger Trike’ which features a ‘maintenance-free, friction-free drive system so even children with very low muscle tone can pedal a Tiger’. That suits Hugh down to the ground then. Hugh loves being out in the fresh air on his bike and although his little legs haven’t quite got the strength to peddle independently just yet, with regular use he is really trying and can move the trike fractionally by himself. The carer control at the back means I have full control over braking, speed and direction too. Hugh loves being out in the fresh air on his bike, the wind blowing through his hair in a way he can’t experience whilst cocooned in his special-needs buggy. And the clever part is that Hugh is having so much fun that he doesn’t even realise he’s exercising!

You can find out more about Tomcat here: http://tomcatspecialneeds.co.uk/ *Disclaimer – a Tomcat Trike is not a substitute for a prescribed physiotherapy programme, it IS however lots of fun! *

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