FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

Life Lessons

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 18•15

flower 2

flowerIf you’re walking to the bookstore—and something catches his attention—you stop and take pictures of flowers.

You know, to pass the time.

So we did.

Of course, this was before one of his ABA goals was to not be distracted by touching objects as he walked to the park

You see my dilemma? How committed am I going to be to this ABA goal?  While walking to the bookstore?

The Wife has informed me several times that my hard work is paying thousands of dollars for his therapy. Therefore, I should apply his ABA lessons to my parenting.

I’ll be honest, I’m torn about this new ABA goal. I understand its importance, keeping him on track from every distraction.

 

But, on the other hand, I question if every distraction is bad—when he gets so much joy from every new discovery.

I consider curiosity to be one of the traits of good students. It seems, sometimes, a good thing can be taken a little too far.

This is how it feels to me.

I mean, he will be able to determine when to not wander off from a line at school for a shiny object in the distance.

At least, I hope.

He will be starting first grade in a large public school next week. Nine weeks before the end of the school year.

It will be a lot of stimulation for his easily distracted brain. So I’m sure his ABA goals, in general, have been good for him.

I’m just not so sure how committed I am to restricting his curiosity on a walk to the bookstore.

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Ship to Shore

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 18•15

ship to shore

You want to improve your kid’s listening skills?

Have them play the game Ship to Shore.

Mark out two lines about ten feet apart from each other and designate one as the ship and the other as the shore.

When you say the word “ship,” they have to run to the ship line, and when you say shore, they run to the shore line.

It’s that simple. Oh, and add in these other actions into the mix:

Stand on one leg and salute with you right hand when you say, “Captain’s coming!”

Drop to their hands and knees and pretend to scrub the floor when you say, “Scrub the deck!”

Lay on their stomach when you say, “Hit the deck!”.

Now, here’s the most important thing: try to trick your kid to run to the ship when they’re standing on the ship line, or vice-verse.

That’s where the listening skills are critical to the game.

Oh yes, they will confuse the ship and shore as the get tired and commands keep coming.

That’s the fun of the game.

Oh, one last thing: be sure to add kids to make the game fun.

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Huxley and Bug

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 17•15

huxley

So, um, yeah, I have some explaining to do. He likes to pretend to be super heroes in front of the bathroom mirror.

Or do mock You tube videos giving instructions on how to put stickers and accessories on Marvel mini-munnies.

So, after listening for awhile, I joined him, grabbing a brush and became Huxley from Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland.

The tan coat was his idea and invitation into his creative world. “If I touch it, it’s mine,” I said, quoting one of Huxley’s most famous lines.

It was serious fun: pure creative expression, a glimpse into my son’s mind and a great way to join his world.

Huxley or Boss is the nickname he gave me–and Bug his nickname–after two characters from Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland.   

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Play Ball!

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 12•15

bazeballtoo

You want to make a kid excited? Ask him to run the bases.

I watched as my son sprinted from third base, leaped in the air a few feet away and practically glided to home plate.

Maybe he had some pent up excitement since he’d been told to stop at each base when a new batter was up.

Yes, baseball is fun.

Ok so. He probably could have handled t-ball or soccer at age five or six. And he might have even rocked it.

Or maybe not.

He had—and still does—have difficulty regulating his body. It’s the Achilles’ heel in his development.

Imagine the difficulty of standing in the infield or outfield for long stretches when you have trouble standing still.

Consider throwing or catching a baseball when you find most gross motor activities to be a challenge.

So, wisely (we thought), the Wife and I chose to hold back on the whole sports thing.

bazeballThen we found “Break it Down” Total Sports, a class designed by ABA therapists to make sports accessible to kids with special needs.

“Break it Down” Total Sports combines learning a sport with toy breaks every twenty minutes for behavioral reinforcement.

The core principle is to break down every skill into smaller parts to accomplish the bigger task of learning how to play a sport.

It worked wonders with our son and basketball, so we decided to sign him up for eight weeks of baseball.

There was just one problem: his hand was too small for his old glove.

So, thirty minutes before his class, we ran to Target and managed to make it to his class just in time.

And you know what? You could say he was a model for the younger kids–in regulating his body–and you’d be right on.

Yes, he has lot of work to do on baseball fundamentals, but he shined in the most important areas.

From being jazzed to see a friend to racing after every gizmo his teachers shot in the air, he was excited and ready to participate.

Ok so. His swing was listless, lacking any natural motion, confidence, grace or mechanics. That needs some work.

It’s a gross motor issue.

But I’m confident that somehow the reckless abandon he showed running the bases will transfer to his swing.

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Ahhhhh Nature

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 12•15

marsh

We may or may not have come across a rattlesnake on the trail at our local marsh. D spotted it first after he cut across the marsh.

I was following behind him and the snake was crossing the trail. D was ten feet away with his fingers in his ears.

It looked like a harmless snake so I took a picture and, no, I wasn’t being a derelict dad abandoning my son in the face of danger.

The Wife heard about the snake later from D. She compared my photo with some Google images of rattlesnakes.

Yes, it was a rattler.

She thinks. Maybe.

When it slithered into the bushes, I thought our snake adventure was over. However, the Wife suggested I call the marsh.

So I did–to let them know about the, um, rattler–and it turns out it was a California Kingsnake.

The California Kingsnake has a flat, oval-shaped head. A rattlesnake has a triangle-shaped head and diamond marks on the back.

I learned from Tracy at the marsh that most snakes with triangular-shaped heads are poisonous. This is good info to know: to id a rattler

Also, I learned in forty-five years of observations by biologists and naturalists, there has never been a rattlesnake at the marsh.

snake

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Buddy Club

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 11•15

bowl ing

The older kids sang the cha-cha-cha song returning to their bowling lane from eating pizza.

“You can cha-cha-cha without running,” their instructor said nicely.

The Buddy Club has been learning about the *Zones of Regulation to increase awareness of their body states.

Being overstimulated is the Red Zone and, yes, the cha-cha-cha group was getting close to entering the Red Zone.

“Let’s go, J___! Let’s go, J____! Let’s go!” I heard the cha-cha-cha group chant.

Then they repeated the same cheer for each buddy, loud and effusive in their support for each other. I imagined future cheerleaders.

They were four girls and two boys. My son’s group consisted of four seven-year-old boys. They were happy to stretch rubber animals between turns.

I looked up just as D ran with his ball, stopped and released it right at the line. It rolled straight down the middle of the lane.

It knocked down six…seven…eight…nine pins. One final pin was still wobbling left and right, but didn’t fall down. It was almost his first strike!

Honestly, I was just proud of his run and release–okay, I was hoping for a strike–and the way he stayed in Green Zone.

Calm and relaxed–the entire time.

*The Zones of Regulation is part Michelle Weiner Garcia’s social thinking curriculum.

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Seeing is Believing

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 03•15

test photo

“Don’t get excited…I will only be here for a couple minutes.”

She sat at a table on the patio at McDonalds and took a few bites of her sandwich. It was 8 a.m. on a Saturday.

She’d been speaking to me while I was writing and listening to music with my headphones on.

She told me about a man who recycled cans behind a hospital and wouldn’t eat potato cakes.

She babbled on as I’d seen her do with other customers at McDonalds; none bothering to listen to her.

“What a world!” she said as she sat down for breakfast.

She resumed talking to me, and after a gentle nudge from Jesus, I was a more receptive listener.

She talked about a woman in a blue pick-up truck in the drive-through who’d found “a decent man.”

“He’s husband number three,” she said. “The first was found dead behind the wheel.”

“The same exact thing happened to husband number two.”

“Now, she has husband number three. Three husbands in sixteen years.”

“I wonder if she puts them in a hole or if the county comes and picks them up.”

She let the thought hang in the air for me to ponder. I gave it a second’s thought and she continued on.

“I’ll give the third a husband a year and a half and he’ll end up dead.”

“Smart woman. I wonder how she gets them.”

Then she asked me, “remember, the story of the ladies up on the hill?” I made a quick reference in my brain bank. Nothing.

“The ones taking in homeless men and killing them for their insurance,” she added.

“Oh yeah,” I said, my first two words.

She left, and I thought maybe she could see things others couldn’t see, things others were too busy to notice.

The next morning, she told me about two McDonalds male regulars who had been talking about her.

“When they go to the bathroom, none of them wash their hands,” she said. “You know how I know?”

“How?”

“I’m sitting in the toilet stall, and they all wear black shoes. The water never goes on.”

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Eating Crumbs

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 03•15

crumbs

My son was having a snack at the table. He was between activities in his ABA therapy. I was on Spring Break.

It was sweet potato chips. They were mostly bottom of the bag crumbs, but it didn’t matter to him.

I started thinking how picking up crumbs with his fingertips was a good fine motor activity for him. Then, I though of a bible story I read a couple days ago.

The Canaanite woman and Jesus in Matthew 15: 21- 28. It was a story about, well, crumbs.

She came to Him and said, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”

A mother in distress!

Yet Jesus said nothing.

His disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” They had no compassion for her.

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” His first obligation was as Messiah to the Jews.

The woman came and knelt before him, approaching Him on different grounds. “Lord, help me!” she implored.

Jesus replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” This may have sounded like an insult.

Nevertheless, the mother said, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Yes indeed crumbs are a good thing.

God, I pray you will give me a tenacious spirit to seek the help I need from You. To remember I can’t do this life without your help.

Romans 7:18 says, “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”

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Zones of Regulation

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 03•15

buddy club fun

“What zone is it when you get sleepy at night?”

Nothing. I repeated the question two more times.

“Blue zone.”

“What zone is it when you get too excited.”

“Red Zone.”

“Is the Red Zone good or bad?”

We were talking about the *Zones of Regulation which are descriptions of body states. They are designed to increase a person’s awareness of their own emotions.

beach

His teacher had told the Buddy Club parents that the zones are neither good or bad. Just descriptions of our emotional state.

“The Red zone is not good or bad,” he said when I asked him if the zones were good or bad.

Cha-ching.

“What zone is it when you start to feel you’re body getting excited?”

“Yellow.”

Later that night, while walking at the beach, he suddenly told me, “when I am frustrated, I can take a step back and ask for help.”

And then this:

“When I am mad, I can take four deep breaths or count to ten to calm down.”

That’s good advice for the entire family: Take four deep breaths or count to ten to calm down.

In fact, I used the strategy in the car on the way to work while the Wife and I started to have a contentious conversation.

“I’m in the Red Zone,” I told my son. “What strategy should I use?”

“Take four deep breaths.”

It worked.

*The zones of regulation is part of Michelle Weiner Garcia’s Social Thinking curriculum.

Check out her website at www.socialthinking.com

me and moon

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Family Therapy

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 02•15

bowling 1

It was like family therapy.

No arguing.

Cheering for each other.

No criticizing.

No telling others what to do.

High fives.

Breakfast and bowling.

bowling 2

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