Skip to main content

The Bike

Guest Blogger
Jennifer C. Jones

It wasn’t a big deal, really. When the few friends he had rode off on their bikes, Brandon stayed behind. When his younger siblings learned to ride and felt the exhilaration of youthful speed and freedom, Brandon only imagined. No big deal. He didn’t care. He had explosive outbursts of anger about many issues. Why should this be any different?

Bright and gifted with an amazing ability to memorize, 13-year-old Brandon struggled with poor physical coordination and social skills – two hallmark characteristics of children with Non-verbal Learning Disorder – or NLD. His outbursts at home were becoming more frequent and more violent.

Matt Child, LCSW at Discovery Ranch, says, “Brandon’s parents were wonderfully supportive. They love Brandon dearly.” So much so that they sent him to a wilderness program for help.

The rigorous physical work of backpacking, bow and drill fire building, and cordage, did wonders for Brandon’s self-confidence. His parents were encouraged with his progress. But they realized Brandon still needed help. They sent him to Discovery Ranch, a residential treatment center in Mapleton, Utah.

At the ranch, Brandon continued working through his difficulties with Child’s help. One of the most profound aspects of his therapy took place not in a building, but on a bike.

During one of the family counseling sessions Brandon’s father mentioned is son had never learned to ride.

“We decided that might be a tangible place to start,” Matt says. “We asked Brandon, ‘Do you want to learn to ride?’ Encouraged by his physical successes in the wilderness program, Brandon said he did.”

Staff member Leslie Giles borrowed a bike from her son. The three of them found a spot near the barns.

“When we first went outside there was a group of kids out there. I thought maybe Brandon might be embarrassed and want to find a different spot,” Matt recalls. “He asked, ‘Why move? We can do it right here. I can’t ride a bike but I’m not embarrassed about it anymore. I’ll do whatever I need to to learn how.’”

Matt and Leslie pushed and cheered and helped dust Brandon off when he fell. Finally, they were able to let go of the bike and Brandon took off on his own. As the days passed Brandon’s confidence and skill grew. If there was an errand to run on the ranch he volunteered, always riding the bike. Then the three of them devised a plan.

Parents Conference was coming in a few weeks. Brandon’s parents were coming to visit. Why not surprise them with his newfound skill?

“The hardest part was keeping it a secret,” Matt admits. Finally the day arrived. While Matt took Brandon’s parents to a pre-arranged spot, Leslie grabbed a video camera and hid near some trees. Brandon went to get the bike.

As his parents rounded the corner Brandon came riding out to greet them on the bicycle.

“His parents were astonished,” Matt says. “They all hugged and wept.”

Perhaps a bike really is no big deal. But Matt says the bike is a symbol of what happens at Discovery Ranch. In his therapy sessions with Brandon he uses the experience with the bike to help Brandon understand other challenges he faces. That’s how experiential therapy works.

“Brandon still has lots of miles to go,” he says. “But he’s learned you can step up to the challenge. You can conquer.”


Popular posts from this blog

The Young Boy and the Rattlesnake

By Stephen C. Schultz (Editors note: This is a story used in a Wilderness Treatment Program for Young Adults . Many come to this program having struggled with substance abuse and interacting with unsavory friends.)   Many years ago there was a young Native American who lived in the very land you are residing in. He decided to seek wisdom by journeying to the top of Indian Peak. As he approached the base of the mountain he came across a rattlesnake that slithered beside him. The snake coiled as if to strike and the young boy moved back quickly in fear of being struck by the snake’s deadly venom. At that instant the snake spoke to the boy saying, “Don’t be afraid of me, I mean you no harm. I come to you to ask a favor. I see that you are about to traverse to the top of Indian Peak and was hoping that you may be willing to place me in your satchel so that I don’t have to make the long journey alone.” The young boy surprised by the snake’s request quickly responded b

Navigating the Highway of Healthy Communication

By Stephen C. Schultz “I was on the road in my car last week. It was a long stretch of highway where it is easy for your speed to creep up. I looked in the review mirror and saw blue and red flashing lights. I watched as the right hand of the officer extended to lift a microphone to his mouth. He was obviously running my plates. I glanced at my driver’s side mirror and observed as his door opened and he stepped around the edge of the door and closed it with a single, fluid motion. In a cautious and calculated manner, with his right hand resting about hip high on his revolver and his left hand carrying some paper, he was at my door in ten easy strides.” Ok…now that you have read that first paragraph, what are you feeling? Did reading that stir any emotions? Could you relate to my experience? How many of you are smiling? You’ve been there…right? You know the feeling. Often there is dread. Sometimes there is fear. Most times there is frustration because you were just goin

Video Games, Anxiety and ADHD - Free Family Resources

 By Stephen C. Schultz Video Games, Anxiety and ADHD - Is there a common theme? Aloft Transitions Home for Young Adults This is simply a complimentary resource guide for parents of teens and young adults who struggle with ADHD, Anxiety and Gaming. ADHD:   • Russell Barkley,  Taking Charge of ADHD • Hallowell & Ratey,  Delivered from Distraction • Harvey Parker,  The ADD Hyperactivity Workbook for Parents, Teachers, & Kids • Bradley & Giedd,  Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy!: Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your  Mind  • Gurian, Michael,  The Minds of Boys Saving Our Sons from Falling Behind in School and  Life, 2005. • Hanna, Mohab,  Making the Connection: A Parents’ Guide to Medication in AD/HD •  (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) • • (American Academy of Pediatrics) • (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry) Young Adult caring for new baby calf Anxiety: The following websites