FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

My Gym

Written By: Scot Butwell - Oct• 15•12

I look up from the men’s magazine I’m reading at D’s My Gym class. As part of the warm-up routine, he is supposed to be stretching his arms over his head like every other kid in his class.

Instead, he is running in circles and swerving within inches from crashing into other kids like a Japanese kamakaze pilot. At least, that’s what it looks like to me, and knowing D as I do, it’s probably an accurate assessment.

My only consolation: D does not collide into any other kids, few other parents are watching, and he has a huge smile across his face, so at least I know he’s having fun, and I know the reason for his behavior.

D is hypersensitive to loud music. Loud music overstimulates his senses. Loud music disregulates his emotions and body. And loud music apparently turns him into a Kamikaze pilot.

my gym balls

One of D’s teachers puts her hand on his shoulder to help him regulate his body, and I hesitate for a moment, before going back to reading my magazine. The next time I look up, D’s feet are on the back of a boy and pushing him forward.

I slide over the counter and give D a brief warning. Then I slide back over and watch him walk on two poles with foam padding at the bottom. It looks like he is walking on giant q-tips.

The Egg Roll is next: pull legs up towards your chest, grab knees and pull them towards your chest, roll backwards and side to side. D laughs as classmates turn into eggs, but his teacher’s rapid fire directions leaves him unable to process the multiple commands.

DSCN0470Then Stinky Feet: smell your feet, grab soap and water, smell your feet, say pee-you, grab baby powder, sprinkle feet with baby powder, smell feet, sneeze and fall back. Again, D is unable again to follow multiple-step directions, yelled out in a fast tempo, so he laughs as the kids smell their feet and say “pee-you.”

And I am faced with a conundrum: How much do I worry about D’s struggle with following multiple-step directions? Or his hypersensitivity to loud environments? Or his difficulty regulating his body when he is overstimulated?

I think about a puzzle of the United States my brother gave D for Christmas. Without me being aware, he started learning the names states and their capitals, and one day he was saying the states and capitals out loud, so decided to quiz him to see low many he knew.

“What’s the capital of South Dakota?”


“What’s the capital of Texas?”


“What’s the capital of Vermont?”

“Mount Pelier.”

We went through all 50 states. He knew every state and capital and pronounced them correctly. And I realized something: he must have been learning the states and capitals from an electronic map of the United States he got when was three.

Then I had a flashback to coming home from work and D would ask me every day, “Dad, let’s do Starfall.com.” He was three and it taught the sounds of letters and combinations of letters, along with simple graphics like a dancing bear.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but D was progressing fast from letters to whole words, and he was reading signs in our community in just over a month.

So, as I watched D be unable to do the Egg Roll and Stinky Feet, I came to this conclusion: I will remember the things he does well, and to be patient in the areas he doesn’t do well.

I read recently that every sensory challenge can often mirror a sensory ability that can represent an amazing talent in art, science, music, and engineering. So whenever D struggles with multiple-step directions, I will think of Albert Einstein watching trains whiz by to come up with his theory of relativity or Templin Grandlin designing a more humane way to round up cattle before they’re slaughtered.


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