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  1. Sorry to have upset people. I'm relatively new here and just trying to share my experience. Sorry to have given the impression I have all the answers. I'm just sharing my opinion, and that's all. I'm raising two autistic children, homeschooling both. One has odd behaviors to the point where the police have been called about eight times in his young life (he is 11), twice when he was at school, which is one reason we are now homeschooling. The other child has severe OCD. Once they were diagnosed as children it was clear that our extended family has a genetic predisposition for autism in both sides of the family, because three others, older now, have struggled with the same challenges and have since been diagnosed. They are all verbal and all worked at grade level in school but I would call their autism severe nonetheless because they simply don't understand other people at all. I didn't talk about my children in the first post because I was answering the question about the effect of puberty. I also have ongoing feelings, as I'm sure many of us do, about how much to disclose about my children and how much to keep private, even if it is an anonymous post. I'm sorry this reticence confused anyone. I don't mean to be telling anyone else how to think or how to help their own children. It has helped us, meaning my own family and my extended family, to think of comorbid behaviors as coping strategies, so I shared that outlook. I've organized academic and social classes at my home for the last several years primarily for children on the spectrum, and I do think there is something similar about their core struggle, which is that they don't understand things that come easily to the rest of us. I believe their outer behaviors are the outcome of this core problem. I don't think this is a highly original conclusion though. Again this is just our experience, but it has worked for us to try at all times to think of strange, unwanted, or violent behaviors as coping strategies, an outlook that often leads us to different responses than what is typically recommended by a therapy often recommended by experts these days (applied behavioral therapy). ABA assumes that children understand their own behavior in relation to others to the point that they will also understand rewards and consequences. But if the children have no idea what they have done wrong or right to begin with, then giving rewards and consequences for behavior is, in my view, really confusing to the child. This shift in our thinking at home has drastically reduced the behaviors, to the point where our home life is peaceful. I wanted to share this experience with the original poster. But this is leading off topic--my only wish was to provide my personal experience FWIW to a person trying to understand what it's like to raise an autistic child. I am really really sorry for any discomfort I've caused in other parents here.
  2. I'd like to also recommend a book, "Aspergers Syndrome and Difficult Moments," by Brenda Smith Myles. It helped me, and it also became the book I hand to other adults in my aspie's life. Clear, short, practical.
  3. Thanks for the clarification. I'm not sure but I think we are just slicing the pie in a different way. I believe the underlying cause of the many or most comorbid conditions is the autism itself--that anxiety disorders and ocd behaviors and violence aren't in fact just appearing together with autism for some unknown reason, but are in fact unproductive coping strategies that the child has adopted, to help him or her cope with an incomprehensible world. I don't want to talk anyone into this point of view, just to express that it has helped me with blowouts. I cope better myself when I think that these episodes are useful to the child on some level, and diagnostic for the adults in his/her life. It becomes the job of the adults in the child's life to communicate more socially acceptable strategies for coping, which can be a long hard conversation over the years with much forward-and-back progress.
  4. Just to emphasize that you can't tell from someone else's experience, and each child will be unique: of the three aspergers boys in my extended family, all three became much much better able to control their impulses about the time of puberty. They grew up. It got better. In my experience, the biggest difference between parenting an aspie child and a typical child is that an aspie child comes to you speaking a foreign language, in a way. You'll constantly need to check in with him to see what he means when he says or does something. You can't interpret an aspie's words or actions the same way as you would a typical child, and you'll have to be careful he understands you, too, rather than just assuming he does because its "something everyone knows without being told." It's never that way for an aspie! An aspie may throw a deck chair in the local pool, for example, and to you and the lifeguard and everyone else it will look like this scary or crazy act of defiance, when really he just wants to see if it will float or not. Suddenly everyone is yelling at him. Why? He won't get it and it will be scary--it's scary when people start yelling and you don't know why. Or a teacher will ask him to not sit on his desk and he'll get up and sit on the next student's desk, not to be a wise guy but because he really didn't think the teacher meant all desks vs. one specific desk...and this, too, will look like defiance and will lead to the teacher raising his voice, confusing a boy who really doesn't know what he did wrong, and possibly causing the fight-or-flight response known as "meltdown" or "blowout." These highly sensitive children can often sense the slightest tension or stress in a voice and it can raise their anxiety quickly because they are so often on edge about what is going to happen next/what new person is going to get mad at them for some unknown reason. If you go ahead, it will be your job to interpret the world for this child until he can do it himself, and it will also be your job to interpret his behavior to others, so that they can understand him in return, instead of leaping to false conclusions about his intentions. Blowouts can come when the child feels backed into a corner and can no longer express himself in any other way. A blowout may look like anger or defiance, but it's really an expression of fear, confusion, and/or shame at losing control. Of course he'll need to stop doing things that scare people or make them mad. I'm not talking about making excuses or shielding from consequences. It's only that I would say the difference between raising a typical child and an aspie child has to do with this extra role you play, acting as translator between your child and the world until he can do it himself. The upside of this extra work is that you get to see the world in a completely new way, his way, and this can be a wonderful thing.
  5. I found we didn't need to stain red blood cells--they have enough color to see them. But as Robert Bruce Thompson said above, if you have too much light coming in then you won't see anything, either. We have everything turned down all the way most of the time. When we started out it helped that we were getting a lot of air bubbles under the cover slip--we could focus on those first and know we were at least in the ballpark! Another thing we've done with protists is to use depression slides. You have a better chance of finding interesting things in your sample, it seems, and the protists don't die while you're observing them (under the cover slip they seem to dry out quite quickly), so they act more naturally. It gives us time to observe things like mitosis in paramecia, or amoebae movement/feeding in detail. We're doing longitudinal studies--14 of them! where we observe cultures change like small ecosystems. Once you get the hang of finding them under the microscope protist studies are really a fine way to teach a lot of concepts.
  6. I'm not sure what the problem is with preparing the slides. Maybe you should start with onion cells which are big and easier to prepare. If you google "onion cell lab" you'll find a lot of labs to choose from. Also it could be your protist culture is still too new for you to be picking up organisms in a drop of water, or you could be taking the sample from a place where the protists are not hanging out. We bought a culture of amoeba that took several days before we could actually find the amoeba. There are ways to get protists to concentrate in a certain area of your culture, depending on what kind you have. Euglena will move toward light so covering the culture except for a thin band on one side of your culture will give you results. Paramecia congregate around a food source, such as a wheat seed (they are eating the bacteria that are attracted to the wheat seed, actually) so taking a sample near some cloudy stuff (the bacteria) growing on the seed or in the culture will usually get you paramecia.
  7. Hello! I just went through this process myself and ended up with this scope from Home Science Tools: http://www.hometrainingtools.com/home-1000x-microscope/p/MI-4100DXL/ It's really everything we need up through AP Biology. I wanted to get a 1000x magnification option, but this is not completely necessary, and you can save money by getting a 400x scope instead. At first I also regretted not getting a binocular eyepiece as the kids were complaining about eye fatigue but now they are completely used to the one eyepiece. I really learned a lot about microscopes from another web site, and should have perhaps given them my business--here is an article on how to buy a microscope that really helped me: http://www.greatscopes.com/microscope.htm As you get going you may want to become familiar with my absolute favorite site for live cultures for labs--we have had months of learning come out of our investment in protist cultures that we've since developed other cultures from and done a lot of observation and experiments with: http://www.carolina.com/
  8. Advice from a Jane Austen fan: Jane Austen is not great literature. It's good enough literature, though, in the same way that To Kill A Mockingbird is good enough literature, and it's assigned in high school these days because teachers believe that it's easier to get through for our much-distracted-by-other-media high school students than books by George Eliot or Charles Dickens, to say nothing of Russian or French 19th century novelists. Jane Austen is chosen because her books are shorter, and her themes are more self-contained, and she allows for a safe discussion of gender roles. If you want to stretch your students, though, I believe they are much better served by reading Dostoevsky or Tolstoy, or, if you don't want them to read in translation, try Adam Bede, a middle-sized Eliot novel. Compared with Austen, Eliot wrote about a larger scope of humanity, and her themes are broad and deep and dare I say more intellectual than Austen. If your student is assigned Austen in school, as mine was, I think it's okay for them to express hatred for her writing in their essays--Mark Twain had some highly critical things to say about Austen's books that will help.
  9. Sorry that I can't help you with fiction. I thought "Mayflower" by Nathaniel Philbrick was quite good, though, and I also loved the PBS series WE SHALL REMAIN for its coverage of this time period, here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/weshallremain/ The first in the series deals with the time of King Philip's war.
  10. <<Persinem: did your son say why he didn't like it? >> He had done a little programming with his dad and just wanted a little more freedom to explore than the course offered--he wanted to keep programming at a fun level rather than a course at this stage. I think the course itself is a good one, from what I saw, just not what he wanted for now.
  11. my son tried the course and didn't like it (he loves the math classes) so I can attest that AOPS is VERY good at giving you a 2-week (2 class sessions) window to check a class out, and then giving a full refund if it doesn't work out. Dropping the class is a 1-click operation from the class page and the money is refunded swiftly. AOPS offers this money-back-after-2-class-sessions for all its classes and it takes a lot of the guesswork out of what is a fairly significant investment.
  12. I forgot one of my son's enduring favorites: The Math Book by Clifford Pickover: http://www.amazon.com/Math-Book-Pythagoras-Milestones-Mathematics/dp/1402757964/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1 It's incredible. The author this year also published "The Physics Book" that is similar in scope and appeal.
  13. The B&N classics that are in translation are all older versions, those already out of copyright. Some of these are pretty much unreadable (for example Dante's Inferno--I think it is Longfellow's translation). I recently bought the B&N version of Germinal by Zola and it was the first and very stodgy translation--dialogue so directly translated that people were saying things like "I am called" instead of "my name is" or "I'm"...these things can really make a difference in a complex book. I thought it wouldn't matter to me with Germinal but it really made the book difficult to enjoy. I hadn't heard that the originally-in-English books were abridged. They should certainly be marking them as such. It seems to be getting to be more and more common, though, to make it very hard to tell. I had a VERY hard time getting a copy of Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle in an unabridged format, for example--the current editions don't make it easy to tell.
  14. Have you tried the AOPS pre-Algebra book and course? My son took the AOPS Algebra course last year when he was 10 and did all right but kind of hated it. It was his idea to do AOPS pre-Algebra this year and it has been a great thing for him, as the AOPS course even at the pre-algebra level has a lot of actual algebra in it, and it has given him a chance to relax, have fun, and really nail difficult concepts.
  15. Actually here is a better page to see the Murderous Maths books: http://www.murderousmaths.co.uk/ They are published in the UK. I have heard they will come out in the US 'soon' but we were willing to pay the postage and my son still after 3 years enjoys taking them out and re-reading them. They each have a different focus and can be read out of order but there is something to be said for ordering them all and letting your child choose their own path.
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