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Autism Awareness Month is in April and one young racer knows more than most about how important it is to be Autism Aware. Hayden has just turned 12 years old and along with his brother Jordan (10), has been Kart Racing for around 4 years. Both boys were diagnosed at a young age with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Autism brings with it many challenges, as well as many positives and the boys have found racing to be an amazing form of therapy. Kart racing is something that they love and have a strong passion for, allowing them to grow and develop in their own unique way.
Hayden has taken out podium positions at many events over the past few years, not only collecting a championship trophy at the Warwick Kart Club, but more importantly, collecting multiple President’s Awards and the prestigious Warwick Kart Club Ron Duffield Perpetual Shields for his off-track commitment and sportsmanship. This year, Hayden competed in his first round of the Australian Karting Championship and far exceeded their expectations. Hayden qualified 8th out of a field of 71 drivers aged between 10 and 13, finishing 15th overall after the weekend.
Autism is a neurological condition that means a person’s brain is ‘wired’ differently to other people. However, the symptoms vary enormously from person to person.
People with ASD often find it difficult to interact socially and communicate with others. Motorsport has been an amazing opportunity for Hayden and his brother to interact with like-minded racers and has improved their ability to socialise and make connections within their community. Hayden loves to camp at the track and spend time with his fellow competitors after the track closes. He shows a huge amount of pride in the clubs he competes at, helping out at working bees and encouraging younger drivers.
Current rates of Autism in Australia are around one in 100 children aged between 6 and 12 years. Hayden and Jordan share the track with quite a number of drivers on the Autism Spectrum – adults and children alike!
Motorsport has been a special interest area for Hayden since he was very young. He desperately wanted to race karts and has always envisaged a career in motorsport. Having just started high school at St Thomas More College, Sunnybank, Hayden would love to work in a race team in the future. His over sensitive hearing allows him to hear changes in his racing engine long before it can be heard by anybody else and his strong interest in mathematics and science have certainly helped him get involved in the engineering side of kart racing.
Autism can create difficulties in social development, sensory awareness and other areas including muscle strength and processing.
Hayden has certainly come a long way since his first podium speech where he refused to speak and his self-esteem, social skills and ability to speak in public have all improved dramatically since taking up kart racing. Hayden has been able to find an area where his Autism helps him to thrive, rather than struggle. Hayden says “I have finally found something that goes as fast as my brain does”.
While this progress has been amazing, it has certainly been a team effort. For the past 2 years, Hayden and Jordan have been brand ambassadors for MotiV8 Training, a Motorsport Coaching program that supports their growth in exercise, nutrition, psychology, sponsorship, social media, public relations and media training.
Hayden and Jordan train with Jimmy Chung at Plus Fitness Underwood and at Future Pros Tennis Academy and have seen impressive improvements in their strength and stamina.
Ruiz Plumbing Solutions provide the boys with opportunities to connect with their local community and they continue to support the boys on and off the track.
Shawn McNamara at 9ine5ive Tuning has been working extensively with the boys for over 12 months on driver training and kart tuning. Shawn and the boys have a great working relationship and he has been fantastic at teaching race craft and on track strategies. He has also been instrumental in helping them to refocus after races.
Kaos Karting provide invaluable trackside support. Jenny, Larry and Brendan were significant in helping the team enter the sport and have been incredibly supportive in teaching the boys’ parents, Erin and Matt, the basics in kart maintenance and repairs.
Browns Plains Chiropractic have been treating the boys for many years, keeping them healthy to allow better on track performance.
Wainwright Media has done a brilliant job on the boys logo design, team shirts and trailer decals.
Derek Jones at Power Republic builds and maintains the boys race engines and his continual positive attitude is infectious.
Every member of the team provides a critical contribution toward Hayden and Jordan’s success.
Sell Racing currently has partnership opportunities available.
You can follow Hayden and Jordan’s progress on their website www.sellracing.net or get live updates throughout race day on www.facebook.com/haydenjordanracing Follow the boys on Instagram @SellRacing If you would like more information about Autism Spectrum Disorders, race over to https://www.autismspectrum.org.au
MAIN PHOTO: Mike Palmer @ Focal Lengths Photography
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