Friday, April 18, 2014

how to be a friend to somebody with autism

April is Autism Awareness Month, so let's talk a little autism.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) now estimates that as many as 1 in 50 children being born in the United States today will be diagnosed on the autism spectrum. 1 out of every 50. That means you probably know somebody with autism. It means your kids most likely have a classmate with autism. It means autism is becoming more routine.

Unfortunately, it doesn't mean those with autism are being treated well. Or even that it's easy to make friends with them. But we, as a whole, need to do better; we need to try harder. And part of that comes from knowledge, understanding, and awareness.

Angela Haupt wrote an article for US News & World Report titled "How to be a Friend to Someone with Autism". It's a good article - definitely worth reading. Her take-aways are highlighted below (with my comments after each bulletpoint):

  • Don't assume he or she doesn't value friendship. He probably does, but making new friends can be a daunting task for someone with autism.
  • Be patient. It might take awhile to develop a relationship - that's ok.
  • Communicate clearly. Slang, nuances, and body language can be hard to understand.
  • Make plans (together). Everybody likes being included and feeling part of a group, autistic or not.
  • Respect sensory differences. Bright lights, loud noises, itchy long sleeve shirts - if they bother them, they bother them. Don't try to downplay it or figure out why - it won't make sense to you, but it's real to them.
  • Don't treat people with autism like a project. Don't pity them, and don't try to change them; just get to know them.
  • Stand up for your autistic friend. Bullying is common for those with autism; having a friend can make a huge difference.

That's a pretty good list. Maybe not all-encompassing, but it's a good place to start.

On a Personal Note

My oldest son has autism, and while he doesn't have a lot of friends, he very much enjoys the friends he has. Here are some pictures from this spring:

Ran into a long-time friend (also with autism) at a play presented for children with special needs.

At the Renaissance Fair with cousins

Sometimes it's just a boy and his dog.

This series is one of my favorites - doing a workout routine with his brother at the park over spring break. "Anything you can do I can do, too."


Thanks for reading.

- Chris Butterworth


Thursday, April 17, 2014

finding the right path

There are so many different types of exercise available, how do you know which is the right one?

Weight lifting? Aerobic exercise? Cross training?

Long workouts, where you have to pace yourself? Or shorter, more intense workouts? And what about frequency - is everyday too much? Is once a week enough?

I've always been a jack of all workouts, master of none. I played every sport growing up, and I've cycled through various workouts as an adult. I never found the one that I loved, and I always felt like I was missing out on something when I focused on something else. I was a good short-distance runner when I was younger (I once ran a 5:04 mile when I was 14), but I always hated running.

Earlier this spring I ran a charity 5k race, where I bumped into an old friend. We ended up running together, at a fairly slow pace, and had a great time. I don't remember ever having enjoyed a run quite that much. The whole experience left me wanting more - I wanted to run more, and to enjoy running more - and I think a slower pace was the key.

Once I decided running was a path I wanted to follow, I began building up my mileage. At first I could only run a couple miles at a time, but over the course of the spring I increased it, a little bit each week, until I was able to run 6 miles without too much difficulty. (still at a slow pace, but also still enjoyable.)

The next question was, "Where?" Literally, what path should I run? And then I found it. Imagine waking up to this desert scenery:

Running through the desert preserve north of Loop 101 and east of Cave Creek Rd in Phoenix, at dawn.

The desert ends at a large soccer complex (Reach 11), with beautiful green fields.

My lone footprints across fresh dew on the fields.

Running back through the desert I'm treated to an awesome sunrise.

Yeah, choosing the right path of fitness can be the difference between success and failure. And choosing the right path for your fitness can lead to even more enjoyment.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

new blog old blog

This blog has been named for a couple years, dedicated entirely to health and fitness. Now I'm expanding its focus; I'll still talk about health and fitness, but I'll also talk about other interests, and I'm moving the site back home to

This post is a label-holder.

Friday, June 7, 2013

5 things I learned from my Dad

5 things I learned from my Dad

sunrise over the arizona desert

  1. Get up and Go. Pick a direction and move. Get more done before 9am than most people do all day.
  2. Have Conviction. Have an opinion. Believe in yourself. Let your beliefs guide your path.
  3. Be Friendly. Treat everyone with respect, from the guy in the penthouse to the guy opening the front door.
  4. Live Life on your terms. Life is fickle, and can end suddenly and without warning. Live life without regrets. Tell people you love, you love them. Better yet, show them.
  5. Get Outside. It's just better out there.

Happy Birthday, Dad. We all miss you.

-Chris Butterworth


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

men average 335 calories per day from sugar

men average 335 calories per day from sugar

From a story last month in usatoday: Adults consume 13% of calories from added sugars.

Sugar added to our food and drinks accounts for 13% of our calorie intake.

  • Men: 335 calories per day
  • Women: 239 calories per day
  • Boys: 362
  • Girls: 282

From the article:
"The latest findings are from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which is considered the gold standard for evaluating food and beverage habits because the data come from in-person interviews about dietary habits. These results are from interviews with about 15,700 adults, ages 20 and older, conducted from 2005 to 2010.
About two-thirds (67%) of added sugars come from food; the other third (33%) from beverages.
"These results may underestimate the actual sugar intake because people may add sugar to cereal in the morning and to beverages such as coffee and tea," says the study's lead author Bethene Ervin, a nutritional epidemiologist with the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A similar study by Ervin and colleagues, out last year, showed that kids and teens are downing about 16% of their daily calories (322 calories) from added sugars. Boys consume 362 calories a day from them; girls, 282 calories.
Added sugars include white sugar, brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, molasses and other caloric sweeteners.
Added sugars include all sugars used as ingredients in prepared and processed foods and beverages, such as cakes, candy, cookies, muffins, jams, chocolates, ice cream, sodas, fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, coffee, tea, flavored milk and alcoholic beverages.

This isn't anything we didn't already know (see 5 steps to reducing your caloric intake), but it is another great reminder of how easily those snacks and processed foods can be the difference between losing and gaining weight.

A couple hundred calories could be the difference between being 100 calories under budget or 100 calories over budget - either losing a pound per month, or gaining a pound a month! (200 calories' worth of food - photo essay)

Eliminate sugars; eliminate calories. This is one of the low-hanging fruits, and should be one of the first things you do on your journey to losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle.

-Chris Butterworth

Monday, June 3, 2013

5 ways planning ahead makes success easier

5 ways planning ahead makes success easier

Have you ever gotten all ready the night before, so that all you had to do in the morning was get up and go? It makes the morning so much easier, since you're not wasting time or energy thinking about what needs to be done, or what clothes to wear, or where all the pieces of your project are. Instead, you do what needs to be done, and you do it well.

If you've done this before, try making it a habit. If you haven't; give some of these a try:

1.) Working out in the morning. Spend a few minutes the night before getting ready for your workout. Lay out your clothes, shoes, and any other gear you'll need. Juice, coffee, or a piece of peanut butter toast? Have it ready to go as well. Write down exactly what route you're going to run, or what workout you're going to do. Then, when your alarm goes off, just get up and do it. No thinking required. No time constraints. No excuses. By the time your mind wakes up, you'll be halfway through the hardest part of your day!

yoga man
microsoft clipart

2.) Preparing dinner. Knowing what you're going to have for dinner tomorrow can eliminate a lot of stress if you're trying to feed a number of people. Anything you can do to pre-prep the food helps even more. Some of the easiest evenings at our house are when we've prepared food for a slow-cooked meal the night before, then simply dumped everything into the crockpot in the morning and headed off to work. We come home that night to a fully cooked meal - no effort required!

3.) Making lunch. Packing lunch the night before practically guarantees victory, at least for me. Lunch is the meal where I'm most likely to make a spur of the moment bad decision and put down far too many calories, either because I decide to join others and go out to a restaurant (big portions), or because I'm in a hurry and hit the drive-through (bad food). Having my lunch pre-made and waiting for me eliminates both of these temptations.

4.) Getting dressed (or more specifically, picking out what you'll wear.) If you're new to preparing the night before, this is a great place to get started. For me, this isn't a big time saver - I grab a shirt and a pair of pants and I'm ready. But for my wife (or anyone who puts more thought into what they wear than I do), who can easily spend five minutes looking for what to wear, this helps make the rest of her morning a lot less stressful, as those extra five minutes come in handy when it's time to get out the door.

5.) Get your To Do list in order. This one is huge for me. Having a plan of attack when I wake up in the morning is usually the difference between a proactive, getting-things-done day, and a reactive, getting-sidetracked-by-email-and-other-webstuff day.

I've learned over the years that the more of these I do, the better my days go.

Does planning ahead take a little extra time and energy in the evening? Of course. However, it isn't any extra time and energy, because you'll have to do those things anyway tomorrow. In fact, I've found doing these things ahead of time takes less time and energy that it does the next day, since you don't have multiple distractions pulling you in different directions at the same time.

So give it a try. Plan ahead for tomorrow, and let me know how it goes. And if you have some good planning ahead tips, please share in the comments below..

-Chris Butterworth