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Everything posted by persinem

  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.
  16. This sounds like my son a few years ago. I'd suggest looking into some of the Key Curriculum Press books, in particular, Crossing the River With Dogs, which is full of sophisticated math problems (the book is used in college courses for non-math majors) but presented in a whimsical way. For videos my son loved "The Joy of Mathematics," a video course through the Teaching Company taught by Arthur Benjamin. And I can't say enough good things about the "Murderous Maths" series by Kjartan Poskitt, which goes through trigonometry. Here is the web site: http://www.murderousmaths.co.uk/
  17. My son is also in the AOPS prealgebra class--about to begin in a few minutes! He isn't using Alcumus at all. Getting the wrong answer really stressed him out, when he was doing Alcumus--he is a little young and still learning how to learn from his mistakes. His primary learning tool has been completing all the problems in the book before class. I am really a fan of AOPS, for students who enjoy math. I was skeptical of the text-only format of the class until I saw it in action. We are also going to keep on w. Prealgebra in the spring. I'm a fan of the book, too, which even at the pre-algebra level has given me new insights about the language of math.
  18. I wanted to add something about textbooks. We are an "academic" homeschool family so naturally when it was time for Biology I went out and bought a used copy of the Campbell tome used in many AP classes-- http://wps.aw.com/wps/media/access/Pearson_Default/1663/1703422/login.html Wow, did it ever NOT work for my biology-loving student! So we have since switched to the alternative used in many AP classes, sometimes affectionately known as "Campbell Lite:" http://www.pearsonhighered.com/product?ISBN=0321489845 We got a copy for $9 online. For a change of pace we also use a highly illustrative book called Exploring the Way Life Works: http://waylifeworks.jbpub.com/ The Way Life Works is a pure delight, great for visual learners. And the "Campbell Lite" book, I find, covers the needed material in ENOUGH detail without bogging my student down in detail she doesn't have to know at this time, even to do well on the AP exam. Back-edition used texts are so inexpensive now and so easy to find online that I thought I'd recommend these alternatives, in case someone else who has invested in Campbell Heavy discovered it was counter-productive to their students' learning and enjoyment of science.
  19. Wow, I'm so glad to hear that there will be an equivalent to the "Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments" for Biology next year! That's great news. Regarding how to do biology labs at home--it was helpful to me to figure out what my student's goals were. To do well on the SAT II for biology? To do well on the AP test? To learn biology in a way that engages and excites her? To learn good lab technique? Ok, it's "all of the above" to some extent, but we realized early on that just doing "The Twelve" AP labs was not going to light her fire. So for many of the required labs, we'll be doing the work virtually, here: http://www.uccp.org/index.php/course-catalog/106 and in the meantime she's doing more inquiry-based labs in the real world, where she is following her own interests. For the past two months she has been doing a lot of self-designed study of protists--how to grow cultures, what might go wrong when you do, what environments work best for growing successful cultures of each kind of organism, and so on. These investigations aren't on the list of required labs but they dovetail so neatly into the curriculum, when you think of it--she has observed mitosis many times, for example, and has learned the parts of the cell by observing single-celled animals in action, and studying Euglena has complemented the study of photosynthesis. Even the accidents she gets in her real-world labs are useful--for instance, one of her cultures was invaded by rotifers...how? I guess my advice would be to invest in a good microscope, and good dissecting tools, and after that to build into your course outline some amount of time to explore, even if it means doing some of the required labs in a virtual environment so that you have have the time/budget for these more inquiry-based activities. Someone has already mentioned Carolina Biological Supply for live organisms--they are great. Another useful site to us is Bio Corporation, which sells single specimens of all kinds of preserved organisms for those who are interested in dissection labs: http://www.biologyproducts.com/specimen.cfm?PageNum_getSpecimen=2
  20. I absolutely love jump math. It took my math-disabled daughter through 8 years of math in a year--she started with the grade 1 workbook in 8th grade when I began homeschooling her and worked through to 6th grade in a year. The program is great and intuitive for children who do not 'get' math in the usual way. My son otoh who is a near-savant in math couldn't stand it. Like so many things you may just have to try and see. Fortunately the books are not too expensive, and there is a lot on their website, including a free download of the teacher's manual.
  21. Sorry to have thrown the jargon around. I think 2e is a useful term. When experts talk about the "autism spectrum" in particular there tends to be this idea that if a child is academically smart and verbal then he/she is on the "higher end" of the spectrum and doesn't need as much help. I think this is a wrong way to look at things. Children can be highly gifted academically and severely challenged behaviorally at the same time. They can be working several grades above their age level academically and yet be completely unable to work in a classroom or to understand what a teacher is telling them. They can be just as socially inept and isolated and unable to make friends as a nonverbal autistic child...the voice of experience, here! Another problem that tends to happen to 2e kids is that teachers and other adults will see the strengths and will assume that the odd or destructive behaviors are the result of a discipline problem--that the child is acting out, looking for attention, or being defiant, since obviously the child is smart enough to know better. It's another way that a special education program can go wrong when it's an academically capable special-needs child. Experts are just not used to working with children that have this mix of both great skill and great weakness, and they will tend not to believe it.
  22. Sarah, in my experience school districts are overwhelmed with the problem of using ever-shrinking budgets to meet the needs of their special needs children, and what happens is that programs quickly evolve to help children with the most severe needs. I wish we had homeschooled much sooner than we did as my 2e kids were given really inappropriate-for-them help that did them a lot of harm.
  23. My son is older (11) and we're just starting to investigate how WWE and FLL might help him. His comprehension for any math or science reading is very strong--not just that he memorizes it all immediately, which he does, but that he understands and delights in it. Fiction, though, is very much a mixed bag and what he comprehends has nothing to do with "grade level" of the reading and everything to do with some intangible level of concrete vs. metaphorical style, which I've yet to figure out myself. No problem with any of Roald Dahl's books, for example, from a very young age, but Magic Tree House mystified him and still does. Tolkien, no problem, L'Engle, he didn't have a clue. It helps him if I read aloud the books that baffle him, and we stop and talk about any interesting sentence structure or metaphorical language.
  24. I don't think you can beat Art of Problem Solving courses for a good math student (http://www.artofproblemsolving.com/). But I think the AOPS courses would be terrible for a student who doesn't love math. I also have very differently-abled kids with regards to math, too, so much so that my 11 year old son is working about 3 grade levels ahead of his 15 year old sister. She does Life of Fred and ALEKS; he does Art of Problem Solving. Both courses are a good deal cheaper than the course you're using. Good luck!
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