Watermill - Cycling for Children with Autism
A story by Watermill Foundation
The Highland Cycle Ability Centre provided a safe, tranquil, traffic-free environment for people of all abilities to cycle.
Individuals as well as groups of young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder utilised the facilities with staff members on hand to encourage, accompany and/or teach the young people as appropriate.
What Watermill - Cycling for Children with Autism did
Our Autism Team Leader and Centre Manager have developed strong links with Friends of Autism Highland, Highland Autistic Society, numerous schools, holiday clubs, carers and individuals. Widespread promotion through social media, leaflet drops and word-of-mouth referrals has led to a significant increase in Cycle Track usage. What started off 2 years ago as a fortnightly Saturday Club has now grown into sessions being available throughout the week at the clients convenience thus offering far more flexibility.
This has resulted in the Centre welcoming 94 people on the Autistic Spectrum accompanied by 116 carers throughout this reporting period. During these sessions our clients made full use of the wide range of cycles and specialised cycles available at the Centre. Some carers choose to make use of our cycles also whilst others relaxed, watch their young persons progress and socialise with other carers and track users.
The peaceful environment has also seen the Centre host school-fundraising events that allow autistic young people to participate fully, 2 schools have conducted sponsored walks and cycles with the accompanying staff/carers safe in the knowledge that pupils are not exposed to traffic and noise.
'S really likes to come on a Saturday and especially likes it if there are other track users around.' Mother, Oct 2015
‘I can't thank the team highly enough so far in C's cycling development. A month ago this seemed impossible.’ Father, July 2015
'The progress in C over the past 3 months at the track is amazing. Big thanks to the team' Father, Aug 2015
'Made very welcome by the staff. R loved his 1 st visit and loves the choices of bikes' Father, Oct 2015
'I am very proud of J as he always wants to come to the centre even when the weather is not great. He wants to get more involved with cycling and would love to race a recumbent bike in the future.' Mother, Nov 2015