The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

June 12, 2013

Ride, Sawyer, Ride

Youngster's muscles get exercise with new therapeutic tricycle

By Rebecca Croomes
news@athensnews-courier.com

— Sawyer Moss appeared more interested in pushing buttons on the cameras pointed at him than his new tricycle.

That was until he put his feet to the pedals.

Moss, 3, of Owens, was born with Phelan-McDermid syndrome, autism and sensory processing disorder, which makes it difficult for him to exercise and gain strength despite being taller than the average toddler.

On Tuesday a nonprofit group known as AMBUCS of Huntsville-Tennessee Valley gave him a therapeutic tricycle to help move his muscles. Usually he doesn’t tolerate holding things in his hands, said mom Hollye Moss, but she was surprised he held on tightly to the handlebars.

“He loves it — just with his legs going,” she said.

The Moss family has been on a waiting list for almost a year and a half for Sawyer to get the chance to have his own tricycle. Hollye was representing the Autism Society at Athens Bible School’s Homespun in May 2012 when the local Health Source physical therapy and chiropractor office set up a booth next to hers. They began talking and before anyone knew what was happening, Tami Tubell came into the picture with a tricycle and helmet.

Tubell, a physical therapist by training and volunteer with AMBUCS, said the four Health Source offices of North Alabama raised money all through the winter for families to get assistance. AMBUCS decided to award a vehicle to a client from each office, and the Mosses were it.

She helped the family get Sawyer ready for his new wheels. Each vehicle is custom-made to match the needs of the patient, so the child had to be measured and matched to the necessary parts he would use, like extra support straps to eliminate concerns about his balance.

Adaptive vehicles like Sawyer’s are a godsend to families of special needs children, Tubell said, because it gives the child a chance to interact with peers playing outside where normally they might just sit on the sidewalk or not go outside at all. It also has an added health benefit.

“As long as the wheel’s moving, the legs are moving, and that’s exercise,” Tubell said. “I think Sawyer will do really well.”

Hollye sees it as a chance for him to interact with his younger brother when the time comes.

“It just helps calm him down, it’s something he can actually do; this helps a lot,” she said.

The only thing left for Sawyer to do is put on the custom nameplate that each child receives with their gift.