Down syndrome from a father's perspective.

The Amtryke from AMBUCS is a great physical therapy tool.

Treyton likes his new Amtryke provided by Kenowa AMBUCS!

My awareness of the tools and techniques that professionals use to help a child with Down syndrome develop is growing just like Treyton is growing. As he develops and advances his teachers, therapists, and other professionals adapt. I do my best to stay abreast of this process so that I know what is going on in my son’s life and can supplement his therapy and education at home. This is a lesson I learned early, there was a lot I didn’t understand in Treyton’s early therapy sessions as a newborn.

One of the tools that Treyton’s physical therapist at school, Mrs. Clark, was using with Treyton was the Amtryke – a hand/foot pedal tricycle. I had seen pictures of Treyton on the special bike but other than that I did not know much about it. However, when Mrs. Clark approach Leigh Ann and said that we could get an Amtryke to use for the summer we took advantage of this generous offer. Had the therapist not made this opportunity available to us we would not have known we were missing out on anything. Mrs. Clark saw something that would help one of her students and then took the extra steps to help us connect with the local chapter of AMBUCS.

Some doubt.

I stand by the statement I made in a recent post that raising a child with Down syndrome is not that different than raising other kids – the point is that as parents we need to adjust to the individual needs of each child. However, what I didn’t point out in that post is that us parents may worry a little more about how our child with Down syndrome is perceived by others than we do with our typically developing children. We want others to see our child for the person he is and not a disability.ambucs logo

In my April 4, 2013 post I wrote, “People with Down syndrome go through life with others making judgments and assumptions about them because of their physical characteristics.” I tend to be a lot less worried about this than my wife but it is a real issue. It is because of this fact that my wife and I had a reservation or two about getting the Amtryke for Treyton when it was offered to us. It may have been a fleeting thought but the idea that someone in the neighborhood may use the special bike as a reason to stereotype the “Downs Kid” at the end of the street did cross our minds.

We didn’t hesitate too much with this decision because we knew how good it would be for Treyton and how much he would enjoy it. He loves it and now we have a physical therapy tool at our house that Treyton thinks is fun and allows everyone in our family to participate in Trey’s physical therapy.

A few benefits.

Prior to the Amtryke being delivered to our house I asked Mrs. Clark for a quick summary of the benefits/reasons that Treyton was getting the special therapy bike. This explanation was not so much for me as it was for those interested and curious people who would see Treyton riding his bike with both foot and hand pedals.

Here are a few of the benefits Mrs. Clark listed for using the Amtryke:

  • His cardiovascular endurance.
  • His coordination. It is very beneficial to use arms and legs together.
  • His balance. While all appendages are moving, he will have to work hard to stabilize his trunk.
  • His strength. Typical bikes do not allow for arm strengthening as well.

Several features.

I wanted to be at home when the local business person from Kenowa AMBUCS delivered the bike but it just did not work out for me. However, when I got home I could immediately see that this was a pretty amazing device.

  • There are a lot of adjustments available to create the perfect individual fit.
  • Safety straps available to keep the rider on the bike as well as their feet on the pedals.
  • A back-wheel handbrake makes it easier for the child to get on the bike as well as stay in control until ready to go.
  • A locking pin the option to lock the front wheel in a straight position if needed and a spring is attached to the steering mechanism to aid in steering when the wheel is not locked.
  • The self-correcting pedals have large platforms that help the rider to be sure-footed.

This list of features could be a lot longer but the AMBUCS organization has already listed the features on their website. Just follow this link to the description of the Amtryke model AM-12.

A morning bike ride.

Treyton really seems to enjoy the Amtryke and since it is something that is beneficial for him to do this is a great thing. The kid likes to be busy and is always on the move so the Amtryke is an awesome way for him to get some exercise (burn energy) while those of us in charge of keeping him safe are able to stay on top of him! Take a look at this YouTube video clip showing Treyton going on a morning ride with him mom. He knows what to do but he needs to build up a little more arm and leg strength.

Thank you Mrs. Clark and Kenowa AMBUCS for the use of the Amtryke!
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