Karting Hobby Puts Ethan Driving Seat; Ethan Ling's Asperger Syndrome Means He Finds Everyday Tasks Very Challenging. but Proud Mum Tricia Tells Rachel Mainwaring How Karting Has Provided a Much-Needed and Rewarding Escape

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Byline: Rachel Mainwaring

EVERYDAY life poses a big challenge for Ethan Ling. He has trouble socialising, likes everything to be ordered and routine and doesn't like any type of change or surprise.

Ethan, 11, suffers from Asperger Syndrome, but has finally found a hobby that has provided a welcome release from the effects of his condition.

And, when it comes to karting, he's also proved he's pretty talented around the track, winning several trophies since he took up the sport just 18 months ago.

Since then, he's been crowned the Celtic Champion, after winning first place in the 2012 Celtic Championship in Llandow and has gone on to fill the mantelpiece with trophies for various competitions around the country.

And no-one could be prouder than his mum Tricia and mechanic dad Steven, both 36, who have helped to motivate their son and find a new outlet that has proved hugely fulfilling for the Bishop Childs Primary School pupil.

Mum Tricia, from St Mellons, Cardiff, says: "Because Ethan has Asperger syndrome and specific learning difficulties, he suffers from high levels of anxiety and finds everyday life challenging, especially school.

"He lives by rituals, sees the world very much in black and white and so doesn't like it if anything is different or has changed. It makes him very anxious.

"This year is a very important year for Ethan as he will be transferring to secondary school this September and we're obviously hoping that he takes to the move well.

"He will be going to Cathays High School, where he will attend a specialist resource base that will cater for his individual needs.

"Obviously, as his parents, we are really hoping he settles in and hopefully, the karting has helped him see that life can throw challenges at him but they can be OK."

Ethan first karted on holiday with his parents but, just over a year ago, he went down to Llandow to the go-kart track and hasn't looked back since.

"Karting is Ethan's escape," says Tricia, 36. "In fact it is for the whole family. In addition to the skills he is learning on the track, it teaches him invaluable life lessons and enhances his social skills.

"He is learning about disappointment when things do not always go the way we would like them and learning how to cope with the unexpected.

"It's taught him how to push the boundaries and taken him out of his comfort zone, which has been an invaluable lesson for him. Because he always likes things to be a certain way, it's teaching him that things don't always go to plan but there are ways of dealing with that.

"As a parent, it's been incredible to see how this hobby has provided such an escape for him."

Tricia noticed Ethan wasn't socialising very well at school and would get very anxious about keeping routines but it took until about 2009 to actually get him diagnosed.

"He hasn't had a best friend like most boys of his age and I used to say to the teacher that I was worried, but he's quite happy in his own company.

"We took him on holiday and he had a go on the go-karts with his dad and absolutely loved it. We had to wait until he was 10 before he could drive one on his own but we took him down to Llandow and he really took to it straight away.

"Steven, my husband, is a mechanic, and so is my father-in-law and I think it must be in the genes because Ethan even has an engine in his room that he fiddles with too. It's like a new obsession with him that keeps him really focused."

Ethan has made new friends since he started karting and is even willing to travel around the country to tracks, as long as Mum and Dad prepare him sufficiently.

Tricia says: "We have to show him where we are going on the internet and how we will get there and also try and visit the track the day before a race. …