Friday, December 21, 2018

Someone Else's Ideas for Gifts

Happy Holidays!

I wish you the brightest of holidays with the happiest of New Years.

Alas, still no time to blog, so here's a link to a monetized site with a few more ideas if you're still shopping to bring joy to your very wonderful family. Be aware items are sponsored and the site uses cookies (and not the leave out for Santa kind).

From "Growing Hands On Kids"

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Free Comic Book Day 2018

The First Saturday in May means .  .  .

Usually I have a few recommendations, but I am unsure which titles have clear story lines this year. If you or your kid have trouble with cluttered visuals/picture storytelling - I've made a few guesses.

Fifty titles this year, but remember not every store will have them all and popular titles may go quickly.
For the younger set there will be Adventure Time, Disney Princess Ariel, Invader Zim, Sparks!, Dr. Who, and Bongo Free for All
  (Simpsons stories) as well as many other titles. Judging by past books, Dr. Who, Ariel, Star Wars and Howard Lovecraft's Big Book of Summer Fun will probably offer clear storytelling. Also,
 comic book stores (hooray for comic book stores!) often
put out a wide variety of comics to give away from previous
years and other sources, so you should be able to find
something fun and appropriate.

If you haven't been around comics in a while, be aware they
can get very dark if intended for teen/mature readers. Archie, Betty, and Veronica act very differently in a Riverdale comic - recommended for teens and up.
There are only four of the fifty rated mature - you may want to give those a miss because of nudity and language.

For more information and to find a participating store near you,

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The End of (High School) English

Ever since Third Grade when my son's teacher and the school staff revealed
1) my son didn't understand what he was reading 
2) they had no plans to help him improve
he's fought through the battlefield of English class with whatever poor weapons we could give him.
Currently he has an extraordinary, gifted tutor and a helpful, experienced teacher.
Together they face the last battle: Senior English

Canterbury Tales

For a reader who still prefers Dr. Seuss, this reading list strikes me as mildly insane. But if he is to graduate with a regular diploma, (which I also have doubts about) to Chaucer and Shakespeare he must go.

Since his great tutor started, I only help once in a blue moon. He continues to be more interested in the sound of words than the meaning of sentences. As for narrative and subtext - 
let's just say his tutor needs to be the genius she is.
About The Canterbury Tales he remembers "When in April the sweet showers fall" and the titles The Pardoner and The Wife of Bath  
but when I ask what happened in the stories, he says 
"I forgot." (They studied it around Thanksgiving)

About Beowulf he says, "Did he ever have a battle with Grendel?"
(started this in September I think).

He's currently reading Macbeth, and remembers a fair amount, only slightly muddled:
"Macbeth is supposed to kill King Duncan in order to become Thane of Cawdor and King hereafter.  Macbeth's sidekick Banquo doesn't like it. He says Macbeth cheated to win those titles. Macbeth decides to kill Banquo and his son Fleance. Banquo dies but Fleance. Wait, he tells the murderers to kill Banquo and his son. The witches Macbeth will not die except at the hands of somebody who was not born of woman. They also say that the forest will move to Dunsinane hill. The forest does move. And Macduff says that he was not born of woman, but that he was untimely ripped from his mother's womb or something so Macbeth tries to deny the prophecy but he can't. And therefore he dies."

To get the regular ed diploma, you take the regular ed classes. 
I have more questions than answers about what all that means
and whether it makes sense for every student. 

What about you? What is your experience as student, parent, guardian, teacher, etc.?

Spectrum Mom

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Editing Emotions

Little Critter by Mercer Mayer
Parenting Works posted an edited Little Critter page that went viral.
The original page read "I wanted to cry, but I didn't. I was brave instead."
The edit read "I wanted to cry, so I did! I was brave and sad."
While many commenters embraced the thoughtfulness of the message, others questioned why you would pick a book 
you have to edit before you can read it.
As a mother, I'm all about giving my kids the best emotional grounding I can. As a reader and a writer I am less sympathetic to those changing the words. Write your own books.
It takes forever to get the words just right.

This particular edit is sweet, but I think would confuse kids, 
especially some with autism who are only just learning what "brave" means. 

By all means, let your kids know it is okay to cry. And perhaps choose another book, because this one tells a different story about how sometimes we feel like we have to not cry.

The educator who writes Parenting Works explained that this
was one of her childhood favorites, and that she lacks the time
to bring just the right library books home. Instead she edits her own book collection. While I admire her dedication, her calm intelligence, and her emotional understanding, I don't really get why that is better than talking about the ideas in the book (after all, Little Critter is crying in the picture. Why not ask, "Why do you think Little Critter says he didn't cry?") or reading a book that fits her ideal of emotional intelligence.

Yet there's an idea in this post for all of us trying to connect our kids with books. Judicious edits may help avoid problems or improve messages. With the Froggy books I edited out the rudeness as much as possible. If a book is almost perfect for your child, what's wrong with a little tweak? But I still prefer judicious selection of books to editing the text. Not only are you reading what a gifted author wrote (and with so many wonderful books in the world, why bother with anything less?), you also avoid having your hyperlexic detail oriented child with autism obsess over why you changed the words. 

Here's a link to the Little Critter page edited by Parenting Works and featured in Elevating Child Care.

Spectrum Mom

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Magazines - More RIppable Reads

 Last week I found a box in the basement that critters
(mice judging by their handiwork - pawdiwork?)
clawed up pretty well. 
Two Spider magazines survived the wreckage. I
brought them to the carport, mostly because of a cute
polar bear paper doll I thought a friend's kid would
Then my oldest boy saw them. He's sixteen now (must
update the profile). I've tried to clear a lot of old mags
out of his room. So instead of taking it to his room,
he stands over the magazines in the carport and reads
them there.
It has not occurred to him to bring them in, and I won't 
suggest it. He is immensely curious as to where they came
from and if there are more. He remembers all the ones he
read and used to get fairly obsessed with keeping track of them,
an impossible task because very few kept their covers more than a week. 
Without being actively destructive, he's very hard on
reading materials. He reads them on the floor or on the bed, and usually steps on them a lot without noticing.
While searching for a good image for this post I found there's a deep discount on Spider - here's the link
Spider contains a mix of stories, poems and activities, often a rebus
(my son remembers those) or a recipe.
Ladybug magazine (simpler stories and poems) usually has a song. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Disposable Reading

Last Saturday was Free Comic Book Day. 
If you missed it, schedule a reminder for the first Saturday of May 2018. In the meantime, you can still go to a comic book store.
If your reader is hard on books but does not eat paper, 
old comic books may be a great choice.
The larger comic book stores have tons of old kid friendly comics priced low enough that you can let kids read, so long as you can handle the three Rs:
I've already rescued my boy's comics from being sat on, and I know they'll soon
be shredded. 
He had trouble choosing. After fifteen minutes he had one comic book, Shrek.
I chose Bongo (The Simpsons) for him, and his brother picked up Scooby Doo
He looked at them right away in the car, but not again till I suggested he
read them this evening. So far, he's mainly pleased that Scooby Doo meets a
The thing about comics is, if it's in popular culture there's probably a comic
for it. So if your kid has a favorite tv show or movie and you'd like some
reading material based on it, there's a good chance you can find a comic
and use the tie-in to entice your kid to read a little something.
And comics are little somethings - 32 pages and done.
Short can be good.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time Play

The stage adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time is powerful. It is also loud, confusing, and sensorily overwhelming. 

Ironically, I can't recommend it for people with processing issues 
such as the main character has. This is clearly deliberate, since the
staging puts us in Christopher's position. We have to cope with
an overwhelming amount of stimuli and try to make sense of what
is going on in a challenging environment.

The subject matter rules it out for most pre-teens in any case,
but the staging also proved too upsetting for the young adult with
sensory sensitivities in our group.  

The brilliant concept of having a light box stage that can swim with stars, show maps, or let characters draw in light on the walls sets the show apart. Audience members adjust quickly to conventions, but the designers seemed determined to constantly surprise and challenge viewers. I still have no clear idea of the significance of the light up boxes the cast moved around the stage - but they looked great. The almost circus trick of Christopher curled up on fewer and fewer boxes was stunning, as were all the train sequences, the astronaut scene, and the maths (English usage).

I definitely found the play worthwhile and moving. I also sometimes wished I were home alone with a good book. If in fact my son went or goes through anything like this in the way he experiences the world, I am more impressed than ever at how much he accomplishes.

Last week I wrote that Christopher in the book did not seem like someone on the spectrum to me. Christopher in the play came much closer - the melt downs he has in the play especially. Theory of mind deficits are a bit more in evidence, still .  .  . being able
to say that you find people confusing is just so - well - not what I usually see or read about in (non-fictional) kids with autism. 

Kids with autism have seen and enjoyed this show. However,
if you or someone you are planning to bring has sensory issues, I would advise caution. You may want to wait for an autism friendly performance (there have been some). And remember, the dog in the book and in the play does nothing in the night-time because it is dead. The play starts with a horrible loud noise and a dead dog.