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Structure advice needed for future teaching sessions of an AS child Answered

Here is my dilema:  I haven't a lot to spend, nor do the parents of the child I am mentoring (Asperger's Syndrome).  Kits and puzzles are great, but can range in price from a few dollars to over $100 a PIECE.  

I have been trying to go through Instructables and pick out "low cost", made from scratch, projects that would be suited for an 8 year old (soldering is out, but squshy circuits look good, etc), and would keep her engaged.   My biggest problem is not knowing "what" to look under.  I haven't a critiera idea on how to get to what I want quickly (I don't always have a LOT of time on line).

I would like to make plans for at least 4-6 months ahead of time, so I can start on "putting together" what is needed for those projects.

ANY suggestions will be helpful and I would be very grateful for any help in this matter.   Those experienced in teaching may have the best ideas, but all others are welcome too. 

Out next session looms and the kit I got is a bit too advanced for the present situation;  so I am "projectless" other then a few small things like showing her how I made my Bristle Bot, and etc.

So far, shes constructed 2 soda can bots,  a skeliton of a T.Rex excavated from a block of  P.O.P. (I think), a hex bot, a few T.Rex models, the Hadogenes Troglodyte puzzle her and I built,, a model of the solar system, etc and etc.

She is going to be a real challange for me to find new and engaging things to create.....

Thanks ahead of time for all that can assist...



9 months ago

Perhaps this of use?

I am teaching electronics with maths on the side using Ohm's law, practical circuits, and various experiments. One thing we built and quantified was an electroscope.

It literally can be built from junk, and it hardly requires any complicated hand tools.

But the possibilities for teaching physics are vast. Charges, forces, current, capacitance...even ionizing radiation.

Don't forget - electroscopes were used as radiation detectors in the early days of particle physics...


electron removal2.png

Ah yes.....I can use that, but it is more of a Spring board then anything....the Magnus effect can be demonstrated in a number of ways, even just allowing a light weight papter tube to roll off the end of an incline (try it first using a tennis ball, allowing it to roll down and off the incline, and note it's trajectory, then do it with the tube......SHOCKED ? I think it's a COOL effect, and much fun and learning will ensue TY

It's on my list. :)

I was feverishly trying to get my sewing project done before the deadline and still get a few other things accomplished, but I do want to see how this works. I bookmarked the video, I'll look at it after I try it myself. (otherwise it might be like peeking at the end of a book?)

Any heavy ball not effected by air pressure will do...golf ball, marble...all will roll off the incline's lower edge in a nice parabolic fashion.....but then, the paper tube..... :-) If you hold this incline at least 4-5 feet off the ground, you'll see the effect much more clearly.....tres cool in my book

You don't need to spend to mentor someone, it's about learning and communication.


Indeed, but she needs, desires, CRAVES stimulation of the type kits, puzzles (like that scorpion puzzle), and such give her. This is going to be project night each month as well as mentor night. Communication between us is at a minimum verbally.

When I showed her a box of "stuff" I had made over the years (and have lost schematics, and such for all of them; (or I'd remake them for instructables) she was in awe. A 555 tester, a 7404 tester, an ELF detector, an inductive phone pickup, a joule thief, an IR LED checker, a modified hand held microscope, a rock that - exposed to UV light and then subject to dark - glowed like a glow in the dark Frisbee,  etc. and etc.  She is excited to see what I will come up with next :-) 

Is she going to end up like you? Or if not, what is your plan for her education?


I doubt she will end up a carbon copy of me :-) I am hoping she can avoid going through some of the horrors that I went though by gaining some understanding early on that some people are just plain cruel by nature, some purposefully ignorant, and some people don't know any better, but then there are a few nice persons out there too ;-)

Since this is going to be a once a month happening, there is little likelihood of ME rubbing off on her much, but she gets along better with me then anyone else at meeting (except her parents, of course), including the others her own age. 

Her Mom and Grandma (she's about my age) home school her, so I have little to do with her formal education.  BUT, on the technology front, I have been "elected" as guide :-)   And for those that do not know, there are stricter rules for home schooled children then there are for public schooled ones. 

>there are stricter rules for home schooled children then there are for public schooled ones.

Not necessarily. Depends on the jurisdiction. In some states, homeschooling laws are very lax and parents "homeschool" kids who in fact study either not at all or very little; in other areas it is required that a certified teacher instruct the kid (ask me how I know :P).

In this area, most definitely. The child is rated and tested frequently by those "certified". Much more so then the children in an adjacent household. BTW do you see everything through dark colored glasses or are you just pessimistic by nature? ;-)

Pessimistic? It's a simple statement of fact, no outlook about it.

It was a general statement of fact, but not a specific one. In the area I live in, mine holds true: it is tougher for the home schooled teachers than for the accredited ones in that more testing is required of them; where I live.

Your sentences do not make logical sense when placed next to one another. Perhaps you meant "it was a specific statement of fact, but not a general one"?

last attempt: your statement was general i.e. not in all cases, Mine referred to a specific ordinance in a specific area. The one I live in. Clearer than that, I can not be.


I don't interpret "laws are different in different areas" to be a statement that isn't true in all cases, but whatever.

How else was I to interpret: "Not necessarily." :-) Mine inferred (remotely) my area, but I wasn't specific....however a blanket statement would not have been logical for me to make, so that was my mistake for not being clear.

i was referring to more than just ... oh never mind...

OK, you've got a direction (many people don't...) - technology, a good one.
I'm optimistic that you'll both get something positive out of it, best wishes. But don't be spending too much - playing with "junk" can be just as good.


Yes, and it will be the "goal" to get her imagination jump started (playing with junk that is). I will have to work into that though, she hasn't enough understanding of certain things to know how to imagine how they work and how ELSE to use them....but she is coming along nicely :-) TY

I can get it right sometimes. I'm aiming for "all the time" because "average" is not the best that a person can do.


Do some of the really simple things to learn the basics -- wire a lightbulb to a big old Frankenstein switch and a lantern battery. But don't tell her how -- explain what the components do, and give her the puzzle to solve.

Build a bridge out of sticks and see how much it can hold. Or build an egg-holding cage out of sticks and see if she can keep the egg from breaking (the latter is probably not a good project if she has a low frustration threshold).

If you've got thrift shops nearby, scout around for one of those old Radio Shack electronics-box kits (I had one as a kid). The springs to hold wire ends are easy to use. There's one on eBay now for $20.

I think, to be safe, I will start with some "squishy circuits" but along the lines of what you are suggesting, except maybe with an LED to keep power safer.

She has done a lot of building things with "lincoln logs" but her imagination has yet to "kick in" so she gets bored quickly (and then frustrated ).   Sticks, since they live beside a forrest anyway, may actually hold more ways to combine and build with though,  TY for that suggestion too.

I have one of those RS electronic kits.....somewhere.   Now, finding it may be harder then just working a few hours and buying one  LOL. 


Is it Asperger that she has? (Knowing her condition would help).

"AS" is shorthand for "autism spectrum." Goodhart's descriptions are consistent with Asperger's, or what used to be called "high-functioning" autism (although I believe that term is no longer considered appropriate).

There have been a few suggestions that the term Asperger's be simply removed so as not to have "another label" to deal with. I don't believe I have ever heard Temple Grandin "claim" the title, but she is definitely on the Autism spectrum and certainly has achieved an awful lot....so, I agree that the idea of "high functioning" is not legit in so much that it can limit how some are treated when they should be "inspired" as much as possible, even if non-verbal.

> don't believe I have ever heard Temple Grandin "claim" the title, but she is definitely on the Autism spectrum

Yeah, see, you can't do that right there.

You cannot insist that everyone accept the diagnoses (which must necessarily include NON-diagnoses) that someone says they have AND claim that you know more about a person's condition than that person has to your knowledge revealed.

Either you can know more about whether a person is "on the spectrum" than they themselves know from over the internet, or you cannot. It is one or the other. Not both.

Yeah, her phd's trump most layperson's opinions :-P

Besides my comment means only that she is definitely Autistic, she had been diagnosed ALSO.  More and more are rejecting the extra title "Asperger's" just to eliminate another NT tag or title to be burdened with. WE ARE autistic...WE are on the spectrum....understand it, or deny it....it  makes no difference to me :-) 

Your layman's opinion, which you said was NOT based on actual information you had, is that she is autistic. That does not trump most laypersons' opinions. It is still unclear to me what, if any, basis the comment had. The stated basis was...none.

It's a shame that a debate must ensue from a simple question to clarify the meaning of AS. It shouldn't overshadow the fact that Goodhart is mentoring an 8 year old (with the parents approval) and he's looking for suggestions for teaching sessions. Clearly he must have some actual information about the child, her abilities and needs.

I'm sorry you're so bothered by it. I don't see the big deal, personally.

I am not speaking of the girl, but of his statement about the grown woman. He said he hadn't heard her say she has AS, but stated that nevertheless, she definitely had AS. That's exceedingly inconsistent given that he insists that it is unacceptable to say/suggest that someone doesn't have AS even if they say they do

It's not that I'm bothered by it per se. I'm in this thread and have read the comments and just thought it was a shame that the discussion had moved away from the point of why Goodhart posted this topic in the first place. The way I read the comments (on both sides) it was unclear who "she" was anymore. In regards to Temple Grandin, I may be wrong, but the way I understood GH's comment, was that he'd never heard Ms. Grandin describe herself as having "Aspergers Syndrome", and went on to say she definitely has "Autism Spectrum". Two different things by my understanding.

I guess I don't see why. Off-topic posts are so commonplace around these parts that it's actually somewhat unusual if a thread *doesn't* have at least one non-topical subthread.

Could be. I understood his comment to be saying that the two are synonymous, and that while he hadn't heard her say she was on the spectrum in any sense, she definitely is.

I'm not opposed to off-topic discussions, but I'm sure you know what its like when you post a topic, especially if you are looking for help. You can feel very discouraged by reading comment after comment that doesn't address your question. There's over 40 comments in this topic, but only 3 comments provide some help that GH was looking for. That's all I meant by it.

It has become expected to be honest. :-) I find myself doing it now and then....picking out a single point in a post and posting on it....it can be discouraging if it goes on without resolution, but eventually I either get my point across or I give up :-) The help I DID get was worth it though.

Well if I come up with some more ideas I will let you know. :)

It is the ole all squares are triangles but not all triangles are squares thing. All Asperger Syndrome persons are autistic, but not all those with autism are considered Asperger's. Tis a common mistake I have run into....

Ugh, she was diagnosed with Autism, but never dawned the extra title Asperger's, to my knowledge (why does everything have to be so difficult ?). You do know that all those with Asperger's are AS (autism spectrum) but not all AS (autism spectrum) are Asperger's, right?

Yes, I do. It's likely to be a moot point with the DSM-V. I wasn't confused by the nomenclature, but by the point you were making (which apparently had to do with labeling rather than diagnosis).

Yes, the label or name or nomenclature, whatever you wish to call it. ;-)

Some have difficulties with the diagnosis given me and to others. They refuse to accept it. :-)

No SHE has a diagnosis also. Her diagnosis and her PHD's trump the opinions of others.

At least you're consistent, then. It was my understanding from your comment that she did not have a diagnosis, but that you were saying she was definitely on the spectrum in spite of that.

Yes, well I do seem to have troubles communicating certain ideas to NT's. I stated that She never claimed to be Asperger's that I know of, just that she was diagnosed with autism. Rereading the post, I can see how someone may be able to read it the other way (which doesn't actually make any sense when read that way).