FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

Kid Concepts, U.S.A.

Written By: Scot Butwell - Mar• 03•13

One summer morning, when D is almost five years old, I suggest to D’s ABA therapist (which I pre-approved with his supervisor) that we go to an indoor playground to break up his normal daily therapy routine.

I am concerned D is missing out on being a kid by doing 20 to 25 hours of therapy per week, although the activities are supposed to “rewire” his impulses like stimming to be shaped into more typical behaviors.

L and I have been discussing what’s best for D–everything we’ve read says 25  hours of ABA is the gold standard for treatment–but all I know today is I want D to enjoy being a kid.

D is becoming less compliant in following the demands of his ABA instructors, so L and I are considering replacing his ABA with the Cub Scouts or the children’s choir at church.

So this is how we ended up at Kid Concepts, U.S.A. at nine in the morning, and I found myself crawling inside the five-level, play structure (think McDonald’s on steroids) and wishing for a pair of knee pads.

D had a clear advantage in the play structure. At three and a half feet tall, he could run through many parts of the maze-like structure; however, at six-foot-three, this was impossible for me. He also had more energy than me.

S, D’s ABA therapist, stood outside the play structure with a clipboard and pencil in his hand, keeping some type of data on D. I thought he whiffed on a great opportunity to connect with D.

Stopping to catch my breath inside the play structure, I felt like I had been transplanted to foreign country where the language and customs are vastly different from what I am used to.

I thought of a poem in James MacDonald’s book Communication Partners about how kids with communication delays often feel in relationships with their parents, except the words expressed how I felt inside the play structure:

My world is one of actions and sensations.

Your world is one of thoughts and words.

Only when you enter my world can I get into yours.

Mom and dad, it’s like we live on a staircase.

You are way up there and I am way down here.

Please come down and do the things I can do.

Trying to keep up with D inside the play structure, I felt the gulf widening between his world of actions and sensations and my world of thoughts and words, except I was the one standing at the bottom of the staircase.

I heard D saying to me, only when you enter my world can I get into yours. 

Please come down and do the things I can do. 

I mentally bookmarked this fact: D’s world is one of actions and sensations, and if I want to connect with him, I must enter his world of actions and sensations to encourage him to join my world of thoughts and words.

I thought D’s difficulty with social language made communication a challenge between us. However, I realized the bigger barrier is that D and I have different styles of communication based on our ages.

So, if I want to increase the communication between us, I need to become more action and sensation orientated. That’s the epiphany I had while feeling disorientated in the play structure at Kid Concepts, USA.

Basically, I need to be more like a kid.

D waited for me at the end of play structure, so we could go down the fast slide together: a father and son’s worlds converging in a steep descent. He apparently didn’t want us to be at opposite ends of the staircase, either.

For more info on Kid Concepts: http://www.kidconceptsusa.com/.

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