Isabella has never had an interest in toys really. She went through a phase for a few months of being totally and utterly obsessed with wet wipes. She was fascinated with them. She would sit there for unusually long periods of time for her, fixated with them. Using both hands, (a feat in itself )to turn them over. Her face smiling, as the packet would make a great crinkly noise with each turn. You could see her sheer determination and satisfaction in successfully pulling them out one by one. It was such a joy to see her taking a real interest with something and really trying hard to use both of her hands.
When it comes to toys Isabella has an abundance of them. Light up, textured, musical, all kinds of different toys to help stimulate her and gain her interest and focus. She will play for some time with each, but it has to be with our hands over hers, as she cannot hold anything for longer than a few seconds. Her hands after a while slip out from underneath ours and her interest wains and she looks around the room for something else. We can only imagine it’s due to frustration, as she isn’t able to play independently.
One day whilst unpacking the swim bag, I took out the swim woggle. Her eyes lit up and she reached for it. She loves the woggle whilst in the pool and it had never occurred to me to use it out of the water. Seeing her reach for it, I moved it ever so slightly further out of her reach and her determination in her face was clear, she was after the woggle. That was it, another object that would become a favourite. She would commando shuffle to it and once in her grasp would pull it and flip it over. Like the wipes, the woggle would hold her keen interest for long periods of time.
Isabella loves music and dancing around whilst being held in our arms. She loves to be thrown about and up and down and swung around in various directions. We always know when Isabella is having fun, as she has a terrific infectious giggle. For a child that is non mobile she is constantly moving her arms and legs and desperate to have the freedom to move independently.
We had seen some of her friends who had specialist trikes. Isabella was meant to have an assessment before Christmas, but we had to cancel as she was poorly. I remember being out in town on Boxing Day and seeing a local girl Sophia riding her trike that she had got for Christmas. Sophia couldn’t stop smiling and looked so happy. I remember thinking the assessment which had been pushed on to the new year, couldn’t come soon enough. I couldn’t wait to see Isabella sitting smiling proud and happy like Sophia.
The day of the assessment soon came round and Isabella was in great form. She was crying whilst she was being strapped in, but the minute the trike and her legs started moving she broke into the worlds biggest smile and I burst into tears. Watching my baby girl sitting and moving independently was truly a moment I will never forget. She laughed and smiled, as she was pushed up and down our street.
She kept looking down at her legs and looking at the world around her. I didn’t want to take her out or for the trike to be taken away. I kept playing the video I took over and over. Isabella’s Daddy wasn’t there for the assessment, and like me was blown away when he watched the video.
There was no question in our minds, we would get Isabella her own trike. We contacted Tom Cat trikes and they said there was a 9 week wait, as the bikes were hand made from a small workshop and they had a lot of orders to be completed. We asked for it to be completed by her 4th birthday. There was nothing else we could do but to wait and hope the weather would be nice for when it arrived.
The day finally came when we got the call to say the trike was ready to be picked up. It was 5 days before her birthday. We set off in the car on a sunny day, feeling so excited. Paul was incredibly excited as it was going to be the first time that he would had seen her in person on the trike. John from Tom Cat trikes pushed out Isabella’s brand new shiny purple bike, my heart was almost thumping out of my chest. I couldn’t wait to see her on the trike again and see her Daddy’s reaction.
I watched Paul’s reaction, as he experienced for the first time what I had all those months ago, our little girl riding a bike. Smiling, laughing and sitting there proudly. Sitting independently looking at the world from another perspective, watching her legs go round and best of all looking at Mummy and Daddy with a real sense of achievement and pride.
Rather than wait for her birthday we got her out on it every day, we gently eased her into it, only allow legs to be pedalling for 15 minutes to begun with. I choked up every time I saw her in it. For the first few days she would cry every time we put her in it, only stopping once the bike started moving. On her birthday something clicked and she understood that she had to go through a bit of fiddling and fastening with her arms and legs before she could get to the good part, moving and pedalling and feeling the wind in her hair. We both loved watching her reaction of feeling free. Her 4th Birthday fell on Easter Saturday, so we took her on an Easter Egg hunt trail on her trike, she sat on her bike proudly as other children and adults commented on how cool her bike looked.
As well as being able to push Isabella in the trike we also bought the bike trailer which meant we could finally go out on those family bike rides, we had talked about when she was a baby. It had always been previously dismissed due to not having suitable supportive bike seats on the market. Now with bike trailer, we could finally ride together. Isabella on her first go was attached to the back of her Daddy’s bike and she laughed hysterically as she flew over speed bumps with her pig tails flapping in the breeze. When Daddy stopped she screamed and laughed for more. It was clear to see how much joy the trike gives her.
Friends and family members who got to see her ride, were equally stunned. We have truly found something she can get real pleasure out of and that she can feel independent in. Without realising it she is also having a physiotherapy session, building her core strength and her leg muscles, as well has getting the feed back from her hands of the sensation of holding on.
We have had the trike 6 weeks now and the excitement we get from seeing her on the trike is just as strong. Isabella still loves the trike in fact on days where she is unable to go on it due to the wet British weather are sad days for us all. We pop to the shops on the trike, to the park and walk the dog with Isabella on her trike. In fact we take any opportunity we can for her to ride on it. She is now up to 35 minutes of her feet pedalling and has even managed a few rotations on her own. There is definite improvement in her core strength and leg muscles and her holding on to objects and bars has improved significantly.
I cannot emphasise enough how amazing this piece of equipment is and how much it has changed Isabella’s life. Thank you Bob Griffin of Tom Cat Trikes for your amazing invention, that has quite simply changed the way in which Isabella can see and explore the world around her.
If you would like to learn more about Tom Cat Trikes and their amazing range of trikes please follow this link
Finally we also would like to thank all our friends and family members who contributed to buying Isabella’s amazing birthday present.
I would like to say a big thank you,
For your contribution to my trike,
It’s by far my best present ever,
And most definitely a strike,
I love to watch my legs go round
And on it I feel so free,
I never stop smiling and laughing,
As you all will see,
I have cycled to the shops,
And cycled to the park,
And given half a chance,
I would cycle in the dark!