Support Danny’s 400K Challenge

Written By Danny’s dad, Micheál

Danny O’Flaherty is a 14 year old boy who loves cycling. He lives in Tuam with his mum and dad Fiona & Micheál and sister Aisling-Rose. He also has autism, special needs, ADHD and is non- verbal.

When you have a child with special needs you tend to dwell on all they can’t do. But when he was 7 years old we noticed that he had great balance and became determined, despite everything we were told, that he would learn to ride a bike. He started on a balance bike which he absolutely loved.


He kept using his balance bike until one day he grabbed his older sisters bike, which he got up on and pedalled away and has not stopped since.

Normally he has to fidget or “stim”, as it’s known, to feel comfortable in his body. This can mean pacing back and forth or tapping on surfaces. When he has to balance on the bike he doesn’t feel this as much and is much more regulated. We started cycling a 4km route around the cycle paths in Tuam in the evenings, mainly to help settle him before bed.

When the lockdown came, there was no school or services just our family cooped up in the house. We made going out on the bike part of his new routine. This helped him deal with his ADHD and, importantly for all the family, helps him sleep. It has got to the point where everyone who walks, runs or cycles in Tuam knows us and says “Hi” and we are always shown great kindness.

Danny and Dad happy out!

Cycling is now as much a part of his therapy as speech or occupational therapy.

Next we decided to take it to the next level and set a challenge of 400km in the month of August to raise funds for Danny’s school (ÁBALTA school for autism and complex needs). This is ongoing and people can support us at www.idonate.ie/danny400k .

Autism and special needs can be a heavy burden for a family but I also feel lucky that my son wants to spend so much time with his dad, cycling together.

We have been overwhelmed with the support shown to this fundraiser so far.

Learn more about Ábalta Special School HERE