Riding for autism

24 October 2014



Words: Shaun Murphy │ Photos: Various photographers │ Videos: auSOMEtism

Learn. Understand. Help. A typical mantra, I’m sure, for any charity organisation or charity bond team entering the Momentum 947 Cycle Challenge. This year, the auSOMEtism squad is not only hoping to raise awareness for autism but change perceptions and break down, if only a few, barriers to what is an extremely mystifying condition known as autism spectrum disorder.

Shaun Devenish slogging it out on is unicycle. Photo credit: Stuart Pickering/Cycling Direct

Nicholas embraces life, never for a moment stopping to think if society has decided what’s fun or not.

Unicycles are just as much fun on the road as well as off.

auSOMEtism was founded in 2010 with an idea. That idea was sparked into action by cycling from Jozi to the Mother City on our very first awareness campaign.

Four years on, auSOMEtism has become a registered NPO that firmly believes that children on the autism spectrum may be different from neuro typical kids, but are no less awesome than their peers. Early intervention and appropriate schooling gives these beautiful children a chance to express themselves and learn in an environment that encourages thinking out of the box.

Being a father of an nine-year-old boy living with autism has been a journey that has led me to appreciate every little moment that, far too often, is cast aside in a world that applauds the majority and frowns upon anything that goes against the norm.

My son Nicholas embraces life, lives it with sheer delight; the good and the bad, never for a moment stopping to think if society has decided what’s fun or not.

A single balloon can bring out a mischievous giggle and occupy an entire afternoon as it is moulded and contorted into a myriad of shapes and designs, taking its owner on an amazing adventure. There is something beautiful about that.

The innocence of these always truthful, slightly quirky kids has given way to auSOMEtism entering just shy of an 80-strong field of riders of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds. Sitting astride many different cycles ranging from mountain bikes, road bikes, tandems and, my personal favourite, the unicycle, we hope to prove that doing something different certainly does not make you any less.

Riding a unicycle has given me a tiny glimpse into a world akin to my son’s. While riding, I am always on the outside of the greater cycling community, isolated.

I attract stares, gasps, cheers and jeers. Even though we all have the same objective I am treated differently. In the grand scheme of things, yes, I am different. I AM NOT LESS. NEITHER IS MY CHILD. It’s for this very reason I have decided to take on the challenge of riding a unicycle long distance. I want people to stop and stare, I want people to joke and ask questions. Hopefully, I will be able to share Nic’s story and educate the uneducated regarding Autism. Furthermore, when Nic reaches 12, he might not have the opportunity to learn in a school geared for learners with autism. Why you may ask? Frankly, there are none currently available that caters to Nic’s needs. I hope to change that with your help.

We are asking each auSOMEtism team rider to try and raise R1 000, with the aim of achieving R100 000. With the money raised from last year’s 947 Cycle Challenge, we were able to assist with the opening of a teenage learning facility, which opened its doors on 1 October 2014. With the funds collected this year by our troop of riders, we hope to take the first steps towards turning our dream of helping further the education of these young adults into a reality. That is to open a school for Nic and other children like him, with the help of the dedicated principal and staff from Faery Glen therapy centre.

A selfie of Team Murphy.

Join us

Almost 80 riders will don the 2014 auSOMEtism race jersey in this year's 947 event. Although the entries are closed for riders, we would love for you to join us, cheering, supporting and appreciating every one of the beautiful people who have decided to help us on our journey. We will be sporting bright orange and blue kit and a handful of us will only have one wheel! Give us a cheer when we come past and we will share a little love in return. Alternatively, any financial contributions would be welcomed. So join me. Please. Let’s turn some heads. Let’s raise some money. Let’s learn together and help children with autism to live life to their full potential.

More information
For more information on autism and or join the auSOMEtism squad, contact Shaun Murphy on or 083 264 9592 and visit www.ausometism.co.za. You can also check out Shaun's blog page: http://www.ausometism.co.za/wheel-of-fortune/

If you would like to support auSOMEtism, please use the bank details below.
Faery Glen Therapy Centre
Standard Bank Account name: Faery Glen
Acc no: 203841832
Branch code: 006305 Northcliff

In addition to joining the squad that will take part in other events to raise funds and awareness of autism, there are a number of other ways to get involved with auSOMEtism. If you would like to show your support of this wonderful initiative, please contact Shaun Murphy.

Also in this issue

Shaun Devenish slogging it out on is unicycle. Photo credit: Stuart Pickering/Cycling Direct

Learn. Understand. Help. A typical mantra, I’m sure, for any charity...

Last week, Johann Rabie and I (EAI Cycling Team), lined up for the Bridge...

Warm weather, sun block and holiday vibes; these are all things we can look...

South Africa is a big place, with landscapes as varied as the towering...

The beautiful Villa del Balbianello on the banks of Lake Como.

Lake Como is a tranquil and picturesque slice of heaven that is surrounded...

Keegan and Brent on their adventure from Witbank to Ballito.

From the arid, dry landscape of the Karoo to the lush Cape Fold Mountain, I...

The newly built supercross track, the Chimes SX Park, in Benoni.

Dirt bike riders can now rev it up on the newly built supercross track, the...

Welcome to the 24 October 2014 issue of DO IT NOW Magazine.