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Michigan Family Creates ATV Team as “non-traditional” Therapy for Autistic Son

Trey Millhisler was five years old when he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). “Finding out that Trey had ASD was a shock at first,” said Jenna Millhisler, Trey’s mother. “It explained a lot of things that we could never understand.” The diagnosis process started when Trey was three. It was lengthy and ultimately left the Millhisler family in a new chapter of their lives. During the early years of Trey’s life, his parents tried various sports and activities to involve him with other children his age. Very often, they failed to engage him, and sometimes those activities ended in meltdowns.

People with ASD must often overcome challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. After the diagnosis, the Millhisler’s adapted. They started appointments with therapists four-to-five times a week, but even with insurance, the frequent treatments overwhelmed the family’s budget. “We had to regroup and figure out a new way to live in order to make life easier for him,” Millhisler said. In the spring of 2014, Trey approached his parents and asked if he could start racing his ATV. His parents jumped at the idea that he wanted to be involved in something. “We use racing as a form of non-traditional therapy for Trey.” Millhisler expressed. “Within a full year of racing and no traditional therapy techniques in place, it was almost like having a completely different child.” Trey’s racing career started on a little quad that he would train on around the yard. His parents bought him a Polaris 90 to start racing. A purchase they later realized was against racing regulations for his age and size. That was it. They purchased him his first DRR 50. “When we first started racing, we didn’t know much about quads,” Millhisler recalled. “We got to see some DRR quads in action at a local event and after seeing their performance and durability, we ended up buying two 50s.”

Michigan Family Creates ATV Race Team as “non-traditional” Therapy for Autistic Son

Racing helped strengthen Trey’s core, which aided in improving his coordination. As riding an ATV requires key muscles for breaking and steering, the actions increased dexterity in Trey’s arms and hands. This helped him to achieve personal goals like holding a pencil and riding a bike. Through ATV riding, Trey has grown both socially and physically stronger.

Because riding helped him so much, Trey came up with the idea all on his own to create a team to raise awareness for families affected by special needs. This would allow him and kids like him to use ATV riding as a form of “non-traditional” therapy. The idea sparked the creation of Spectrum MX, a team created and lead by 7-year-old Trey. “This isn’t something we told Trey to do,” Millhisler explained. “This is something he asked us to do and we support his decision. He wants others like him to know that you can live without limits, or in our case ‘race without limits’.” In 2018, the Millhisler family drove to Ohio to attend a mini-quad training camp hosted by Eleven18 Powersports and DRR USA. The event consisted of a weekend full of riding, training and making memories with members of the ATV community. “It became evident to us that DRR was more than just an ATV company,” Millhisler remarked. “It was a family, and to us it was a family that we were proud to be a part of.”

With the help of friends, family, and the ATV community, the Millhisler family learned how to deal with struggles and celebrate victories no matter how small. “ASD definitely gave us challenges, but in the end, it taught us to be stronger as a family,” Millhisler shared. “Not only did racing bring new hope to Trey, but it taught us as his parents to work together as a team in ways that we never imagined.”

You can join the Spectrum MX Race Team by contacting Spectrum MX’s Facebook

DRR proudly supports Spectrum MX through our Social Media Program.

By Angela Radesic

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