Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dr. Sears on N.D.D.

Dr. Sears has an article about a term he made up: N.D.D., or nutritional deficit disorder.

This article by Dr. Sears explains his views on how poor eating habits can cause behavioral problems at home or in school, or can cause problems learning, and problems learning at school.

The things he says about essential fatty acids are exactly what Dianne Craft has said.

I like it when ideas and information begins to repeat and get talked about by different people, it lends more credibility than when one lone voice is talking about it.

If looking for more of what Dianne Craft has to say look for her articles about the 'biology of the brain'.

A related blog post of mine is my book review of "Is This Your Child" by Doris Rapp M.D., that talks about behavior issues and food, not so much learning challenges.

Repeat Pete Board Game Review by ChristineMM

Product Name: Repeat Pete Board Game
Produced by: Patch Products Inc.
Full Retail Price: $29.99

Rating: 5 stars for fun, 5 stars overall, and 4 stars for educational (all out of 5)

Summary Statement:
Silly Family Board and Action Game, Worth Playing

How this product came to me: I requested a complimentary edition of this game as part of the Amazon Vine program for the purpose of writing a product review

This is a really silly family board game/action game. The game play is simple. Read a card, do the action. The next player has to repeat the previous action(s) and do their new action. This goes round and round, repeating the things in sequence, until someone messes up or forgets what to do.

The things that must be done range from actions without sounds, to actions with sounds to just sounds or words spoken. Examples are to act and make sounds like a bat, say “Boo!”, stomp your feet on the floor, snore, make a thumbs-up sign without a sound, and smack your lips and make the sound.

The game description mentions a time limit but the game does not come with a timer of any sort and the directions say to make up your own time. That is tricky since our game had as many as 12 actions being done in a row. We didn’t do the timing part.

The scoring and who is the winner is a bit chancy, the punishment for the one who messes up is to roll the die and go backwards the number of spaces they rolled.

This game is really, really silly and some adults may not like doing these wacky things with their kids but if that is the case maybe they need this game to loosen them up. My boys aged 11 and 8 really loved the game including seeing their parents acting like fools, such as when my husband crawled on the floor on his stomach and made sounds like a crocodile. Oh boy.

I’m not sure how teens would like to play this game with each other. I can imagine my boys playing this with their friends right now (if their friends were willing) and cracking up at what they were doing, so long as everyone had good sportsmanship and didn’t make fun of the kids who messed up.

Our game didn’t go on too long, so I didn’t get to the point where the game was going to drive me insane if I continued.

The game maker says this games goes to age 99. I cannot imagine adults playing this with each other unless they changed it into a drinking game of some sort or were playing under the influence of alcohol, which could be quite hysterical actually.

I’m rating this game a 5 for fun and overall, because it is a good clean fun family game that the kids think is hilarious, and because I believe that more good board games are needed on the market and because I think all families should play board games and card games with each other as it builds connections between family members.

Younger son acting out a silly thing while playing the game

I’m rating this a 4 for educational because it helps children learn to pay attention, sequencing and helps practice memory work. A child who does not look and listen closely and focus will have a hard time at this game. The skills that this game practices are good for all children to be able to do and will help them in school.

Older son trying to remember what he was supposed to do next.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Slowly Reading These Books

I have been dipping in and out of these books for the last two weeks. I will often read parts of three of them in one day.

1. Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Mayla Kabat-Zinn and Jon Kabat-Zinn.

This book was published in 1997 and I learned of it when I attended a parenting topic seminar at a Connecticut La Leche League conference in spring of 1999. I found the session insightful and bought the book at the conference. I had never read it cover to cover but instead read parts of it. It sat on my shelf for a long time. Back when I first bought it my oldest was a year and a half old.

Right now I am enjoying the parts about parenting older children.

2. Mexican Bowl Fishing and Other Tales of Life by William Douglas Little

I was offered a review copy of this book from the author's publisher and accepted it after reading a bit of the author's website. The author is a newspaper columnist. He writes essays about bad things that happen in his life. He is a good storyteller and is really funny. He uses a lot of hyperbole. So far the humor has not crossed a line to that which turns me off, I guess being that these were written for the newspaper forces them to be cleaned up language and to not include 'adult' content or profanity which is fine by me. This was great reading on the airplane and makes for light before bed reading too.

3. Stitch 'N Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook by Debbie Stoller

An advanced knitter told me this is a great book for newbie’s as the author does a great job explaining the different stitches, so long as you don't mind the sense of humor and the author's word choice, such as in the title.

This book really tells a new knitter the basics. I have been re-reading parts of it that I've read before such as learning about the different types of yarn, teaching myself the purl stitch and other basics. I bought this copy at my local Barnes & Noble with a gift card someone gave me as a thank you for being their Cub Scout Leader.

4. The Lifestyle Fitness Program: A Six Part Plan so Every Mom Can Look, Feel and Live Her Best by Debi Silber

I am not sure why this book does not draw me in enough to make me want to read it cover to cover all at one go. It is a book with lots of common sense about the need to eat right, exercise, reduce stress and get a balance in life (spirituality, emotions, and relationships). I commend the author for being honest and for trying to cover all these topics in one book.

Perhaps the problem I'm having is that the book doesn't give a fast or easy way out of losing weight and getting in shape. I know that short-cuts don't work, I do know that. The truth is we have to do a bunch of different things on a daily basis and continue that for the long haul. If we can do all that then we'll have great health, physical fitness and feel great from eating well and our mental health will be great too.

I like that a mom wrote the book and that we are being addressed as moms. Therefore the advice is not so die-hard that it would be impossible for a person parenting children to put the recommendations into place. And at least there is some empathy for the challenges women have with being a wife and mother and trying to eat well and get into shape.

I need to really read this book and make a commitment to make myself a priority enough to apply these ideas to my real life. I deserve it, I know I do.

Lost and Found Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: Lost and Found
Author: Andrew Clements
Publication: Atheneum (July 1, 2008)
Genre: Juvenile fiction, publisher states ages 8-12
Format: Hardcover book
ISBN: 978-1416909859
Full retail price: $16.99

Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Summary Statement: We Love the Author but Not This Book;

How this book came to me: I requested an advance reading copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program for the purpose of writing a review. I selected it because I have liked previous books by this author. In fact, Andrew Clements was my older son’s favorite author the year he was ten years old, and I though the book would be a good fit for our family.

The story as described on the back cover is the classic tale of switching places with someone and fooling people, but with a twist. Identical twins Jay and Ray, in their first days of sixth grade, find out upon starting at a new school that due to a mix-up the school only knows about one of them. Due to issues with being a twin and watning to see what life is like as a non-twin, they devise a plan to fool everyone. One twin gets to stay home and goof off while the other goes to school. They switch back and forth. Of course the issue is how and when will they be discovered or reveal the truth? And what kind of tangled web does lying weave? I thought the plot was a great idea and figured my boys would love the idea of the switching and the suspense.

The thing that surprised me the most about this story was that the focus of the action in the story was something never revealed on the book’s description: it is about the boys getting crushes on girls and vice-versa. Right off the bat one boy is attracted to a girl and tells his brother to tell him to be sure to tell him if he kisses her. The other brother has a love interest in a different girl, so things start to get confusing. The publisher states this on my copy of the book is for children ages 8-12 and frankly I’m a bit surprised that the focus is on physical attraction, crushes and hopes of kissing.

Lest you think I am a prude, I’ll share that my eleven year old son read the book and said it was his least favorite book by Andrew Clements. He said he was not at all interested in reading a book about boys having crushes on girls and talking about dating and kissing. I asked if the ‘switching places’ plot was exciting and fun and he said no, the story was boring and moved slowly without much suspense, and he just didn’t care about to find out what happened.

As further proof, before I read it I also let my eight year old read it as he has enjoyed reading some of the author’s other books and this is within his independent reading level. That son said he didn’t at all like the talk about the girls as he still thinks that the idea of dating, romance and kissing girls is gross. He said the book was not very exciting either, regarding the entire story and the ‘switching places’ part.

Back to my perspective the author does make many points regarding being an identical twin. The information on the book’s back cover explains that Mr. Clements has identical twin sons so he knows this information firsthand. As a parent these issues interested me. However gauging on the reaction of my two, non-twin boys within the publisher’s stated target age range I can say my non-twin boys didn’t care to hear about the issues facing identical twins, they could not relate to it. I bet all twins would love this book though.

Perhaps girls would be more interested in the budding romance of the characters of this book and about the emotional relational issues regarding the challenges that identical twins face?

Perhaps the story would have worked better and found a better fit with its audience if the two main characters were girls and this was targeted mainly at girl readers?

And the final reason why I don't like the book was the surprise in the end, when the school wanted to punish the boys for their school skipping the father threatened to sue the school and to go to the media with their mistake unless they dropped the punishment, as he did not want their school record marred with a bad mark of behavior! Talk about issues of not getting consequences for children's actions! That is so typical of what many parents today do. I bet that teachers will be disappointed to see that happen in the story as that very thing is a big complaint of many school teachers. If you don't believe me go read some teacher's blogs and read the stories they tell of their students and their families!

I’m saddened to say that it was not just me but my two Andrew Clements-book loving boys who felt disappointed by this story. Ouch, it pained me to write this review but I am being honest. I’ll rate the book a 2 because I can’t bring myself to rate anything written by Mr. Clements a 1, we enjoy his other books too much and he is a favorite author of our family’s. I actually feel badly writing this review. Sorry, Mr. Clements.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

I have a thing for old barns. I think they are beautiful and sad all at once.

Photo taken by ChristineMM, September 2008 in Maine.

Kenny and the Dragon Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: Kenny & the Dragon
Author: Tony DiTerlizzi
Genre: Children’s Book, publisher states independent reading ages 9-12
Publication: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (August 5, 2008)
Format: hardcover book
ISBN: 978-1416939771
Full Retail Price: $15.99

How this book came to me: I requested an advance reading copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program. I selected it because it is written by a co-author of The Spiderwick Chronicles series which my children both loved and also because my older son is into fantasy books featuring dragons.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Summary: A Modern Telling of the Old St. George and the Dragon Tale; Promotes Peace

Are you familiar with the legend, St. George and the Dragon? If you don’t know the older legend, perhaps you have read “The Reluctant Dragon” was written by Kenneth Grahame (the author who penned “The Wind in the Willows” about a hundred years ago. The general story is about a peaceful dragon who comes to live in a village. Since dragons are usually dangerous beasts the villagers and King want the dragon slayed. However the person who is to kill the dragon, George, realizes the dragon is peaceful and fakes the killing then reveals that the dragon is peaceful.

Tony DiTerlizzi retells the story in more modern times yet still in a fantasy world. In DiTerlizzi’s version the main character Kenny is a schoolboy, or actually, a rabbit who dresses in human clothes and acts like a human. All the characters in this book are animals living as humans. Kenny is a gifted child, a bookworm consumed with teaching himself anything and everything that interests him. Kenny is different than his peers, due to his intelligence. His best friend is an elderly bookstore owner named George, who retired from some kind of work with the King.

The dragon, named Grahame, comes to live on Kenny’s family’s farm. Kenny befriends the dragon, who in addition to being friendly and peaceful also loves books and is an autodidact, who loves Shakespeare and can even play the piano. The dragon is having a splendid life until the villagers find out of his existence and the King calls for his execution. The rest goes along as with the tale as penned by Kenneth Grahame.

The story moves at a fast pace and never slows down. I was hooked into the story and wanted to find out the outcome.

The publisher states this book is for independent reading by children of ages 9-12. This book, due to its gentle nature, would also make a good read-aloud for children under age nine. This book would fit perfectly for a book for a child younger than nine, who is an advanced reader to read to themselves. It is sometimes it is hard to find books on a higher reading level with content that is not too mature for the reader or that doesn’t have highly emotional content for the sensitive reader. (For more book reading suggestions for gifted young readers, see the book “Some of My Best Friends Are Books” by Judith Wynn Halsted.)

My eight year old read the book first and loved it, tearing through it in two sittings. My dragon loving 11 year old was a bit put off by the talking animals part, and was disinterested, much to my surprise; he thought is was a bit childish (he is reading the Eragon books now).

Many issues are raised in the book such as the obvious peace-making and avoidance of murder and violence, not judging a person by their appearance, being open or closed minded, friendships, stereotypes, the power of persuasion and “group think”. Even marketing and commercialism are touched upon, in the part when souvenir t-shirts are being sold for the slaying event!

Teachers and parents looking for books that promote peace and non-violence take note this is a perfect book to fit that bill.

Parents of precocious children, gifted and talented children, and bookworm children will enjoy seeing elements of a gifted child in the main character Kenny.

Some adults like the older stories that have good values and illustrate good character traits and have the good bones of telling a good story. However some children do not like the older language such as is used in one hundred year old books. Other times the parent or teacher assumes the child would not like or understand the older language. What this book accomplishes is taking all the elements and plot from the old, good story, and retelling it in more modern verse for today’s children that is easily read by the children, or read aloud to younger children. The story itself is well-told by DiTerlizzi, he did a great job keeping the story intact and not ruining it by changing it too much, not dumbing it down, and by not making a joke of it as some other authors have done when rewriting the old legends or fairy tales for today’s children.

Bravo to Tony DiTerlizzi for writing a story worth reading!

P.S. Kenneth Grahame's hundred year old tale "The Reluctant Dragon" can be read online for free here, at Project Gutenberg. The story is one chapter in a story book called "Dream Days".

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Oster T-Finisher Hair Trimmer Product Review by ChristineMM

Product: Oster T-Finisher Hair Trimmer
Item Number: 76059-010
Full Retail Price: $60.00
Amazon’s Discount Price: see below Amazon link for today’s price

How this product came to me: Our family purchased this item with our own money for our family’s personal use.

The Oster T-Finisher is a professional hair trimmer, the same one used by many barbers and hair stylists.

This product is used to clean up the sideburn area, to trim over the ears, to clean up the back of the hair where it meets the neck and to shave the back of the neck clean.

This is a serious, professional tool. Due to the nature of the close trimming, you need to be careful when using this product as a small slip can result in cut skin.

In our family we use this as the finishing touch trimmer after using the Oster 76 hair clipper for the actual haircutting. This can also be used in between hair cuts to trim up the back of the neck.

We have been using this for about nine months and it is working great.

We have found that we are saving money and time by cutting my husband’s hair at home instead of having the barber do it.

After finding the full retail price online we first shopped locally but found that the prices were above full retail! We found that Amazon had the cheapest price so we purchased it from Amazon.

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Oster Classic 76 Hair Clipper Product Review by ChristineMM

Item: Oster Classic 76 Professional Products Hair Clipper
Model Number: 76076-010
Full Retail Price: $189.99
Price on Amazon: Amazon discounts this price, see link below for today's price.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Summary: Same One the Barbers Use---Works Great!

How this came to me: Our family purchased this product with our own money for our family’s personal use.

After years of paying a barber to cut his hair, my husband gave in to the chidings of his brother and a friend to buy the same clipper used by barbers, the Oster Classic 76, to begin using it to cut his hair at home. The others have both trained themselves to cut their own hair. In our family, I have learned to cut my husband's hair.

We are saving money cutting hair at home instead of paying the barber’s fee plus tip and we feel this justifies the cost of this clipper over time. Actually a larger issue was finding the time in the schedule for my husband to go to the barber shop when they were open and when it jived with his schedule, which was getting difficult with my husband’s work hours. Also there is no sitting and waiting for the next available barber when you cut your own hair at home.

This is a professional device and is high quality. The way the clipper is designed is safe to use. More tricky is the Oster T-finisher tool, sold separately, because the T-finisher tool can cut the skin if not used properly. We use the Oster Classic 76 for the main cutting and clean up the sideburns, back, and back of the neck with the Oster T-Finisher.

Sometimes the Oster Classic 76 is sold in a combination pack with the Oster T-Finisher.

Read the package for which blades come with the Classic 76. My model number 76076-010 comes with a size 1 and size 000 blades. Other blades are sold separately.

After finding the manufacturer's full retail price online, we then shopped around locally and found the local retail stores including a 'discount hair supply store' were selling ABOVE the full retail price. We found the best price on Amazon.com so we bought it there.

We have been using this for about nine months.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman Passed Away at Home

I am not a celebrity watcher or obsessor. While my interest in Paul Newman is partially because he lives close to me (he lives in Westport, Connecticut), my main interest in this story was that he got his wish, to die at home. The media is reporting that Paul Newman passed away yesterday at age 83.

Having two close relatives pass away and one friend in this last year, and one right now probably on her way out, I am very attuned to issues such as dignity while sick, infirmed and/or elderly and that the person gets their wishes regarding caregiving and where they will die. All three of the people I was close to who passed away died where they wanted to, two at home and one in a hospice facility--they each wanted to be in those places. My friend with two children my same age did want to be in the hospice facility as she didn't want her children linking their own home to her death and having a sadness feeling about their home.

I am glad that Paul Newman got his wish.

Here is an article talking about Paul Newman's desire to live the end of his life at home. It also discusses how he was wrapping up his financial affairs, passing the torch to his business onto his son and giving away his belongings to those he wanted to have them, while he was still alive.

Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books September 27, 2008 Edition

The Saturday Review of Books September 27, 2008 edition has been published at Semicolon. Take a look at what bloggers are saying about the books they are reading. Consider posting a review too.

The Street Bible and The Word on the Street: My First Reaction

While at my son’s Boy Scout Troop meeting, at a church I scanned their tables of used books for sale. I saw this, which I’d never heard of before, and bought it. It is “The Street Bible” by Rob Lacey, an actor from the United Kingdom. Published in 2003, the back cover explains “using MTV-style dialogue, Lacey lends fresh perspective” and uses “the language of the modern urban reader”. My interest was piqued to say the least.

After doing some online research today, I see that “The Street Bible” has been republished under the title “The Word on the Street”. As I assumed I confirmed after checking Amazon’s customer reviews, when I found that paraphrasing and retelling the Bible in more modern language has upset a number of Christians who think it is not pure enough. If you want to read some of the debate just scan through the customer reviews on Amazon for “The Word on the Street” (click the link below to take you to the page).

I also was surprised to find a Wikipedia entry on “The Word on the Street” which quotes author Lacey as stating this is performance art not a literal translation and that it not meant to replace The Bible.
Also a live performance with music was created and performed by Lacey and an audio recording was published under the title “The Essential Street Bible”.

Also Rob Lacey authored “The Liberator” which paraphrases the gospel of Matthew, Mark and Luke.

I am unclear if “The Word on the Street” is a full reprint of “The Street Bible” or why “The Liberator” is a separate book from “The Word on the Street”. I know that “The Street Bible” contains both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

If you are looking for non-Amazon sources of “The Word on the Street”, “The Essential Word on the Street” and “The Liberator” they are all published by Zondervan and are still in print and available from Zondervan.com and they also have titles available for Internet download for a lower fee than the hard copies. It appears that “The Street Bible” is out of print, my copy was published by Zondervan also.

Anyhow, here is one example that I picked by flipping through the pages and picking a page and verse at random, and wow is it a good example:

Galatians 5: 19-21

“If your dark side’s in charge, this is you: you’re a twisted filthy old letch, with only sex on the brain. You waste hours on the latest craze to have seduced you, sometimes just worthless, sometimes full-on demonic. You’re hateful, argumentative, jealous, angry. You’re a drunk, a pervert, all ‘me, me, me’. You’re an ultracompetitive back-stabber, a stirrer, a divide-and-conquer control freak who dies inside every time someone else makes it. Enough? I told you before, people like this aren’t part of God’s set-up!”

Galatians 5: 22-26

“But if God’s spirit is in charge, then this is you: you’re loving, alive, vibrant, sparkling. You’re calm; you walk into a room and friction walks out. You can handle delays, you’re not pushy. You’re generous with money, with time, with people. You’re good and solid, always ready to help. You don’t double-cross people, you don’t use your fists in anger; you don’t lose your rag—you’re in control. You’re never in trouble with the police. That’s you! You’ve connected with the Liberator Jesus and you’ve murdered your dark side with its ‘must-have’ attitude. Now that we’re living with God’s spirit, let’s get our heartbeat in rhythm with his. Let’s not get cocky, competitive or jealous.”

Now this is an easy Bible to read!

Another Bible that has been translated into modern language but not street language is “The Message” by Eugene Paterson. You can read a bit about “The Message” at the Bible Gateway site, here. From that page, after scrolling down, you can read the entire text of the book online for free. Here is a link to the Galatians verses from “The Message” that I quoted above from “The Street Bible” for a bit of a look at how the two are different.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hunting Chickens??

Oh boy.

I refuse to believe this was a gap in our homeschooling. I refuse. Somewhere, somehow this must have been discussed, where the raw chicken meat sold in the store that we buy and cook here at home comes from.

The other day I shocked my eight year old by informing him that no, humans do not hunt chickens. He said he was sure that all the chicken eaten in America was from having been hunted down and killed by someone.

He recoiled in disgust at the idea of intentionally hatching chickens and raising them on farms in order to kill them so we can eat them. This absolutely horrified him.

Welcome to modern day America, boy. If he was raised as my mother was he would be raising his own chickens and he would have been slaughtering them himself. Or he would have had a hunting rifle at age five like my uncles and done a lot of hunting (and poaching) in order to provide food for the family. You do what you have to do when you are poor and that includes poaching game from the woods of northern Maine. But we didn't get into that.

This conversation then went into a discussion of where does the farmer get the chicken? It hatches from an egg? Where does the egg come from? Another chicken. But where did that come from? From some other chicken farmer. This went round and round until he started laughing.

The conversation ended with another proclamation that the idea of raising chickens on farms in order to kill them to eat them seemed not right.

I was wondering if he was about to choose the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle at that point. Since he dislikes nearly all vegetables and most fruits that would be an issue as I refuse to raise my children on bread and wheat products alone.

It probably won't be long before he brings up this topic again...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Eye Tracking Problem Links

If you would like to learn more about eye tracking disorders these links may help you.

These are some resources that I found useful or interesting when researching my son’s condition (convergence insufficiency).

If you have not read my blog post about our family's own dealings with an eye tracking problem for one of my sons you can read it here. There are some different links in there and most importantly a LONG SYMPTOM LIST.

This is not a comprehensive list of everything there is to know about all the various eye tracking issues. These are resources that I felt helped me in my research. I am sure there is a lot more information out there, and I am sure there are more articles about other eye tracking issues that are different than the one my son has.

Behavioral Optometrists are trained to do eye tracking testing in order to diagnose eye tracking disorders. Pediatricians are not trained to do that kind of evaluation. Eye tracking problems are not detected by reading the eye chart on the wall. A ‘visual acuity’ test done by a health care professional (even by an opthalmologist) is not the diagnostic tool that can make this diagnosis. There is special testing to check for eye tracking problems and issues with the field of vision. If your child has never seen a Behavioral Optometrist for ‘eye tracking testing’ then they have never been tested to see if the have an eye tracking disorder. As you will learn from reading some of the articles listed below, even a visual acuity test result of 20/20 vision does not mean that the person does not have an eye tracking problem.

Note that sometimes a reading specialist at school or a school teacher is the first person to suggest that your child may have an eye tracking disorder, if the child is struggling to learn to read or if they are already reading but now are having reading comprehension struggles. There are certain symptoms that can indicate a problem with eye tracking that are easily detected by people, such as a child turning their head sideways to read, squinting or trying to read with one eye. For more symptoms please read a symptom list.

1. Question: What are eye tracking problems? What is convergence insufficiency?

For the answer this article will be helpful:

Article: “Vision & Reading: The following are excerpts from an article on Vision, Learning and Nutrition” by Donald J. Getz, OD, FCOVD, FAAO

This site is a good starting place, see the other articles on the site. For example it has a listing of different vision and eye tracking conditions with summaries of each and some symptoms listed. It briefly mentions a link with the child’s nutritional intake at the end to poor nutritional intake possibly being correlated to problems with learning.

2. Article: What is Convergence Insufficiency (CI)?

See also the links off of this page on the same site for more information.

3. College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) website is a good resource. Here is one quote:

"Mission: Our mission is to serve as an advocate for comprehensive vision care emphasizing a developmental and behavioral approach. COVD certifies professional competency in vision therapy, serves as an informational and educational resource, and advances research and clinical care in vision development and therapy."

This home page of website of COVD links provides articles, press releases, and an “in the news’ section.

Articles of note on the COVD site:

Article: The 20/20 Myth

Article: Signs and Symptoms

Article: Insurance Coverage for Vision Therapy

Locate a Doctor Near You (see sidebar on home page)

4. Convergence Insufficiency page on EyeMDLink.com site

5. Wikipedia entry on Convergence Insufficiency. Note the links section for the Wikipedia entry, you may find even more useful information there that is not included in my blog entry.

6. Question: Can a child with a 20/20 vision test result have some other eye problem that affects their learning?

For one answer, see this article: Success in School: 20/20 Eyesight is Not Enough!

Article: Success with Visual Disabilities: Convergence Insufficiency

7. Regarding the diagnosis of strabismus---

Question: Is surgery necessary to treat strabismus?

An ophthalmologist may recommend eye muscle surgery (possibly as the first or only recommended treatment). A non-surgical option is vision therapy with a Behavioral Optometrist. Read more info here about what these doctors have to say about eye muscle surgery and strabismus:

All About Strabismus page with many links

All About Surgery page with many links

8. Treatment of Eye Tracking Problems

Option A: Eye Exercises can be done in the doctor’s office and sometimes at home. These exercises also go by these names:

Orthoptic Therapy

Wikipedia entry for orthoptics

For more information do a google search by the keywords 'orthoptic therapy' and/or 'orthoptics'.

Orthoptist/Orthoptics page on the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus’ website

When asking your medical or vision insurance if they cover it be sure to use the different medical terms to help you find the answer.

Option B. Light therapy treatment is another type of therapy that can be done instead of or combined with orthoptics.

Light therapy also goes by these other names:

Syntonic Phototherapy
Optometric Phototherapy

Article: What is Syntonics? At College of Syntonic Optometry’s site

About: Syntonics (Optometric Phototherapy) at Dr. Rummel’s site (he is a New Jersey Behavioral Optometrist)

About: Optometric Phototherapy (Syntonics) at Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists’ site (Australian spelling, not an error)

9. Dual or Misdiagnosis---Find out about co-diagnosis or possible mis-diagnosis with ADD/ADHD because it is said that eye tracking related learning problems may cause misdiagnosis of ADD/ADHD or children with ADD/ADHD might also have eye tracking problems.

Here is a quote from that article:

"Regarding the article and study on this page, Dr. Granet of the Children's Eye Center commented, “We don't know if convergence insufficiency makes ADHD worse or if convergence insufficiency is misdiagnosed as ADHD. What we do know is that more research must be done on this subject and that patients diagnosed with ADHD should also be evaluated for convergence insufficiency and treated accordingly.”

Another site with an ADD relevance has this article:
Scientific Studies on Connection Between Vision Disorder (Convergence Insufficiency) and ADHD

10. Can there be a dual diagnosis of Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome?

On various sites it has been mentioned that double vision caused by convergence insufficiency may be the cause of some eye contact symptoms or delayed reading seen in children who have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism. Since children on the autism spectrum sometimes struggle with learning and were never tested for eye tracking problems, some suggest checking for the presence of an eye tracking problem and seeking vision therapy if an eye tracking diagnosis is made.

This New York Times article mentions a child with this situation.

In a related article in The New York Times from 2002, a Yale study suggests that doing eye tracking testing in children younger than three, may help them make an earlier diagnosis of Autism.

Article: Experiment Offers Look Through Eyes of Autism by John O’Neil

11. Dianne Craft’s advice:

Dianne Craft is a special education teacher with over 25 years of experience, and is a nutritionist. She homeschooled her child, and is a homeschool conference speaker. She believes there is a link between nutrition, the body and the brain’s ability to learn. She feels there is a nutritional component to learning disabilities, learning struggles, children with allergies and children on the Autism spectrum—all who can benefit from changes in diet. She is on staff with HSLDA to help parents of children with special needs. HSLDA members can call and speak to one of their staff special needs educators for advice about continuing to homeschool a child who has a learning disability.

You can read more of her articles on her website Dianne Craft.org and learn about her brain integration therapy which parents can do with their children at home. She was a speaker at the 2008 MassHope Christian Homeschooling Convention and mentioned in one of her lectures that eye tracking conditions and dyslexia are sometimes seen in children with ADD/ADHD or perhaps they are not diagnosed with the learning problems and mis-diagnosed with ADD/ADHD.

Dianne Craft’s website, home page

Article: Visual Processing Dysfunction Characteristics by Dianne Craft posted on HSLDA’s Struggling Learner page. Follow links at bottom for more information.

11. Newspaper Articles about Eye Tracking Problems

Article: “Vision Therapy Helps Children with "Hidden Disability" published in the Boston Globe in 2002. Mentions that sometimes a misdiagnosis of “non-verbal learning disorder”, dyslexia or ADD/ADHD is made when really the child has an eye tracking problem.

Quote from the Boston Globe article:

"The letters swim on the page, giving the children headaches. Children try to compensate by bobbing their heads back and forth to constantly refocus their eyes, or shutting one eye and reading with the other. They invariably fall behind and become frustrated with reading, Orfield said. Most do not report a problem reading because they do not realize that their experience is abnormal, she said. And administrators often mislabel these children as suffering from a learning disorder, such at attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or dyslexia, when in fact it is their vision that is impaired.

"It's a hidden disability," Harris said. "There's a strong implication that we may be over-medicating our kids." Vision therapy, he said, can make a huge difference.
"Kids who go through my program make a 73 percent jump in reading, on average," Harris said. "This is a school problem that should be treated in school. It's much less expensive to do it in school than in private practice."

"The good news, Harris said, is that the human eye can be retrained to visualize properly. The only hurdle is access to the proper medical professionals and treatments."

New York Times article: ”Not Autistic or Hyperactive. Just Seeing Double at Times” by Laura Novak, published 9/11/2007

Quote from the New York Times article:

“Dr. David Granet, a professor of ophthalmology and pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego, said: “Everyone is familiar with A.D.H.D. and A.D.D., but not with eye problems, especially not with convergence insufficiency. But we don’t want to send kids for remedial reading and education efforts if they have an eye problem. This should be part of the protocol for eye doctors.”

In 2005, Dr. Granet studied 266 patients with convergence insufficiency. Nearly 10 percent also had diagnoses of attention deficit or hyperactivity — three times that of the general population. The reverse also proved true: examining the hospital records of 1,700 children with A.D.H.D., Dr. Granet and colleagues found that 16 percent also had convergence insufficiency, three times the normal rate."

One last note from me:

A Note About Other Medical, Psychological Conditions and Learning Disorders

The above linked articles and websites have stated that sometimes children with eye tracking problems also may have an ADD or ADHD diagnosis, or be diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum. In some of the above articles it was also mentioned that sometimes the child also has a diagnosis of (or was treated for or was misdiagnosed as having) anxiety disorders, depression, and/or neurofibromatosis.

Children with an eye tracking problem may also have dyslexia, dysgraphia or a learning disability diagnosis of a ‘non-verbal learning disorder”. If your children already has one or more of those other conditions if there are still having learning struggles and they have the symptoms of an eye tracking problem, you may want to consider a consult with a Behavioral Optometrist to see if an eye tracking disorder is present as well.

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Feeling Flattered

I received this compliment on Frog Creek, who gave me a blog award.

Christine's, The Thinking Mother. She puts so much thought in her decisions, and if you know this woman, you would attest that she is a gift to Connecticut homeschoolers. When I was first contemplating homeschooling, she saw my post on a local message board and game me her telly number so I could chat with her about my confusion and insaneness of a newbie. I will always remember that. She is a dedicated mother, la leche league person, and homeschool advocate.

Tomorrow I'll fulfill the rest of this blog award but for now I am sharing that I'm flattered.

With blogging especially we never know what we say might help someone. Sometimes it can be lonely, blogging, because we publish our posts and sometimes never hear a peep from those who read our writings.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Free 12 oz. Coffee From Starbucks for Homeschooling Parents

In September, from what I read on the Internet here and here, each Monday in September, school teachers were offered a free 12 oz. (a “tall”) cup of Pike Place Roast coffee to celebrate the return to school for a "teacher appreciation Mondays" promotion.

On a state homeschool chat list that I am on, some homeschool parents were saying they got free beverages, not that coffee and not that size, but bigger and better drinks!

Something must have gone wrong with some homeschooling parents as per this announcement on the HSLDA site, HSLDA intervened and got Starbucks to officially allow homeschooling parents to participate, on the only Monday left in the month, September 29, 2008.

According to the HSLDA site you must show proof that you homeschool (see the announcement for a list of documents they feel Starbucks will accept). This special offer is for all homeschoolers not just for HSLDA members.

With the cost of gas it is hardly worth it for me to intentionally drive to a Starbucks for a free 12 ounce cup of joe. Plus if I go with kids in tow during the daytime, I'll end up shelling out money for them to get a special drink too. Perhaps I'll go out for a little "me time" by myself for a cup of decaf in the evening.

I love the taste of Starbucks coffee so I buy it at a discount from Costco and brew it at home. It costs too much to buy coffee daily at Starbucks-- I do not want to spend my money in that way. Instead, I save buying from Starbucks stores for special occasions.

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Carnival of Homeschooling Week 143 Has Been Published

The Carnival of Homeschooling #143 was published yesterday at A Pondering Heart.

I have an entry in this blog carnival. This Carnival provides a lot of homeschool-related reading. Take a look!

If you have a blog or a website and write about homeschooling I encourage you to consider submitting an entry to this weekly blog Carnival. For information on how to make a submission, see here.


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Finding Titles in Book Series

Lately the best and fastest source to find other titles in a book series, in my opinion, is Wikipedia (of all places).

Sad to say that Amazon.com continues to disappoint me in this area. It seems to me that Amazon with all their wonderful web features should have by now, found a way to link titles in a book series together.

We need a clear listing of each title with the series name and telling which book number in the series the book is.

Sometimes you can find this information on a book author's website, if they have one. Not all authors have them, especially deceased authors or those who are written under a pen name or by multiple authors (i.e. The Hardy Boys and other children's series).

If you can find an author's website, sometimes the site design is so heavily laden with fancy graphics that just getting to the content is time consuming. Other times the site is pretty but does not have links to quickly find the information. Wikipedia is fast-loading and clear.

An example of a list of books in a series with detailed information is the children's series: Wikipedia entry for The Boxcar Children.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Homeschool Weekly Reports 2008-2009

I am on the fence about doing the Homeschool Weekly Reports. I don't know if anyone will really read them or will care.

I most certainly do not want them to be a brag-fest.

I am thinking of doing them and keeping it very real. I want it to show what a homeschooling family's life is really like. I don't want it to just be a summary of lesson plans we did and what books we used. I want it to show the unevenness of my family's lives, the challenges, the good stuff and the imperfect stuff. I'd like to show things like juggling illness (head colds etc.) with trying to get homeschooling lessons done, managing medical appointments, getting big projects done in the midst of homeschooling, and dealing with things like big stuff breaking in the house, helping sick or dying relatives or mourning the death of a close relative. I want to show also the learning that happens outside of the lessons I plan out, the self-directed learning and how the places we travel are educational in various ways.

I decided if I do it this year I want to include a couple of photos of stuff that happened that week. It would be good to see real people and places linked to long written descriptions. Not only would it be proof that the stuff is true it would let the pictures tell a story that sometimes is superior to the written description, or tells more than the writer let on in words. An example would be to see the glee in a child's eyes. A blog reader might wonder if our homeschooling lessons are torturing our children but if you can see the happiness it would prove what I was saying in words.

Some people have told me they’d like to homeschool but they think their lives are too imperfect or that they are too imperfect. I want to help people realize that no homeschooling mother is perfect and no homeschool is perfect, even the families who appear to have it all together and who have happy kids and happy parents. Some people think they can only homeschool if a child has a certain kind of personality or if their children were compliant girls, or didn’t have a certain medical condition or didn’t have a certain learning disorder or didn’t have this or that thing. The fact is that all kinds of kids are homeschooled, girls and boys, and kids with ADHD and learning disabilities, and even Autism. We parents all deal with negative things in our lives, we all have stress, we all have various typical real life issues to deal with such as unemployment or other big things, at one time or another. We just do the homeschooling in addition to all of that and try to have successful homeschool and have a good family life. If we can do it then you can do it too. I want to show people that real people do homeschool and that people can homeschool through times of adversity.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Paradigm Shift for Me

Over the summer I decided to try a new approach regarding my life, my role as a mother, my role as a homeschooling mother and the role of the person in the family in charge of the family schedule and running the household (including house cleaning duties).

I have been applying this for about a month. This is a major change for my style and so far it is working well.

I am trying for more of an even-keeled balanced approach.

While working this summer on doing a big decluttering job on the rooms of our house (not the unfinished basement, not the garage), and while going through papers to discard or file them properly, I had an epiphany. I realized that I was dealing with lots of stuff that I had not dealt with previously (letting the papers build up etc.). I know other families are more diligent about staying on top of projects like that. Due to procrastination on those projects I was left with gigantic projects that were hard to catch up on and sucked up a lot of time and energy. It was draining to have to spend three full days going through paperwork, for example!

I started asking myself how does our family spend our time and how I do spend my time? I won't share all the details but the fact is that we were sometimes reacting to crises and things not in our control that we had no choice but to deal with in a reactionary manner, such as dealing with emotions from deaths of close loved ones. However other things we did were totally in our control and we chose to deal with them. In other words we chose to do activity A, B, and C and in doing those we didn't have time left to say, keep on top of clutter in a certain room or to file away all the necessary papers and instead had piles of papers waiting to be addressed.

I decided to start saying no more often and to do less outside the home, do less appointments and less stuff even if it is fun stuff, in order to be able to spend time doing things that we really should be doing. In other words instead of doing four fun things we can do two fun things and spend that extra time at home doing whatever has to be done and in leftover time, relaxing and having more laid back fun here at home. Instead of focusing on the missed out on fun of the other two things we could savor the fun experiences of the two things we did do.

I also reduced my volunteer work, saying no and letting go of things from May through August. I have a longer blog post on that drafted that hopefully I can polish up and share more in detail about that. I am not feeling guilty about reducing my volunteer work further. I have had eleven years of volunteering under my belt.

In the past I would do things like really want to get a lot of homeschooling lessons done in one day so we'd do that like crazy and I'd not do a single housecleaning thing that day. The house might get messy all over then I'd spend a full day doing tons of cleaning. I had a more 'all or nothing' approach previously.

My new approach is moderation and balance. Things don't happen as fast but they are happening gradually and in a more do-able fashion.

It so happened that our trip to Maine was put off until Labor Day weekend and the first week of Maine. I decided to take along some homeschooling stuff and start lessons there, doing half the subjects that week instead of doing none and then coming home to start later than I'd hoped but to do all the subjects. It worked well.

Second my orders of homeschooling materials were delayed and were not physically here when I needed all of them. So we worked with what we had and did that. I didn't stress over not doing a certain subject yet. We have time to catch up.

Instead of doing one day of laundry per week and having the washer and drying going non-stop on that one day I have been doing one or two loads per day. I also have been doing a little house cleaning every day. It doesn't look as nice all at once but it is easier to do a little every day then to look around at a growing mess then spend all day doing grueling work. For example one day I decluttered the kitchen counters and washed them. I swept the floor and ran a load in the dishwasher. I ran out of time. So the next day I cleaned the half bathroom and mopped the floors in the half bathroom, hallway, and kitchen. I am spreading the cleaning out to a little each day.

We are doing less outside appointments this fall. I keep getting invited to wonderful things as do my children. I have been saying no! We did have a big social week this week as it was the first time my kids have seen some of their homeschooling friends since June so I did agree to numerous playdates now that everyone is getting back into the fall routine and is finished with summer travel and summer camps. Rather then focus on the fact that we didn't do as much homeschooling lessons this week as I had hoped I am happy that the kids and I had a lot of social time catching up with our friends. (At about half of the playdate things I was socializing with my own friends.)

Also regarding homeschooling I have decided that rather than parcel out the work to equal amounts and trying to do every subject every day we are doing some things a lot more now and will finish them early. For example my older son has wanted to do math 90-120 minutes a day so he is flying through his new math curriculum. That is more math than I wanted or expected him to do in one day but he is enjoying the new program and he is scoring well on the work so it means he is not mentally overtaxed by it. I am not mad that he has slacked on history due to running out of time. Younger son loves a logic program he's doing so at this rate he may finish the whole book in two months, that is fine. Who ever said the 'right way' is to space it out evenly for an entire academic year anyway? And if some education experts of homeschooling gurus do recommend it but I do it differently then who cares if I'm not conforming to their ideals??

I am loosening up and becoming more flexible.

I am not allowing myself to beat myself up about not having done as many homeschooling lessons as I thought we would have done by now. I am trying to look to the positive side and be happy that in some subjects they are ahead.

Still to be factored in is time carved out for me to exercise. That will be an intentional new project that I have to make time for and use discipline to accomplish.

I am a perfectionist but for years I thought I had conquered the monster. I have realized instead that on the surface I was acting like I wasn't a perfectionist but my high standards and wanting to do everything all at once and to try to do so many things all the time was driven by the perfectionist deep within me that I didn't realize was still alive. So I'm trying to squash that perfectionist inside of me.

This is a major change for me and so far, so good.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books September 20, 2008 Edition

The Saturday Review of Books September 20, 2008 edition has been published at Semicolon. Take a look at what bloggers are saying about the books they are reading. Consider posting a review too.

The Way I See It: Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism & Asperger’s
Author: Temple Grandin PhD
Publication: Future Horizons Inc, September 2008.
Format: soft cover book
Full retail price: $14.95
ISBN: 9781932565720

My Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Summary Statement: A Well-Organized Collection of Grandin’s Articles

How this book came to me: I received a review copy of this book after requesting it from the Amazon Vine program.

This book is a collection of articles that were previously published in Autism journals. The articles have been edited, updated and neatly arranged by topic. The articles are 2-4 pages long and numerous articles make up each chapter. Due to this arrangement it is not necessary to read the book in its entirety or in order from start to finish. The reader can jump around from topic to topic if they want, and it will all still make sense. Temple Grandin PhD describes herself as a ‘high functioning Autistic person and she is presently in her 50s. While some of this is opinion and some is explaining the way life is experienced by the author, other parts are summaries and analyses of information such as medical studies. After reading this book cover to cover I can see that a lot of time, research, energy and passion went into Dr. Grandin’s writings.

The chapters having to do with medical information, diagnoses, medical treatments, and discussing what different kinds of research has shown are cited right at the end of the article with the references cited. I want to make it clear that it is apparent that the author has researched these topics thoroughly. Unlike so many other non-fiction books (or magazine articles or web based articles) on the market which comment on studies or shell out advice based on what the medical experts say this one actually does state what studies were referenced so they are believable and so the reader can go on to research more if they desire. Although many of these professional journal articles are not available to the layperson easily or for free, at least laypersons will know that the information is based on something it is not just made up or pure opinion based on someone’s imagination. Health care professionals who want to learn more would have easier access to those source materials than the layperson does.

Also included for many chapters is a list of source material for the reader to further investigate. The further reading is in various sources such as websites, books, journal articles and magazine articles. For example when discussing vision issues that some people with Autism have, she cites the medical studies published in professional journals and a list of websites available to everyone to read for free.

Chapters have these titles which sum up the broad range of topics addressed in this book: Diagnosis and Early Intervention, Teaching and Education, Sensory Issues, Understanding Nonverbal Autism, Behavior Issues, Social Functioning, Medications and Biomedical Therapy, Cognition and Brain Research and Adult Issues and Employment.

I mentioned the articles were updated for this book. Examples of that are citing journal articles dated 2007 and 2008 (this first edition of this book was published in September 2008) and including some information on the newest drugs for depression and anxiety. Sometimes the author comments on current event issues that happened very recently. I appreciated that these articles were edited and updated when reformatting them for publication in a book and they are NOT just a quick reprint of old articles. I appreciated that. I feel the book was edited well. It was not boring, it moved along providing just enough information on a wide variety of topics. When the reader is left wanting more information, which is when further research on one’s own would be worthwhile. Anyone dealing with Autism and Asperger’s has got to realize that to know more they will have to do a good amount of self-education by reading the research and other books and articles that pertain to the specific topic areas that are issues for their unique child with the Autism or Asperger’s diagnosis.

This book is not the first book on autism that parents of newly diagnosed children with Autism should probably read. However after learning the vague basics and generalized information that is so readily available, if a person wants more information more from the perspective of a successful person who actually has the Autism diagnosis, I highly recommend the writings of Dr. Temple Grandin. Her previous book “Thinking in Pictures” was eye opening to me as it was the first time I was able to read what life would be like for a person who is a visual thinker. This book was even better because it explains some things that can only be described by a person who has lived through them, for example, the sensory issues.

As the subtitle says, this is “a personal look at Autism and Asperger’s”. This is the information and research as viewed by Dr. Grandin. This book is what it says it is, it does not pretend to be something it is not. I do appreciate this book and have learned from it. If you crave a less personal view of the issues and information about Autism written by someone from a more distant perspective perhaps you would not like this book. As for me I hope that Dr. Grandin continues to write and speak at conferences to share her experiences and information ‘the way she sees it’.

One thing that I appreciated and don’t always see in writings about Autism was the positive attitude to attempt to boost parents who have children with Autism . She inspires parents to take action, to not give up, to find responsive health care providers, to not bow down to Pediatricians who are not taking the suspected diagnosis seriously in the early stages. She stresses the importance of having early intervention, to work with their children directly not ONLY rely on professional expert treatments, and to get parents to set high expectations of their children. (In this way she reminded me of Maria Montessori and in general about children’s education and standards of behavior she reminded me of Marva Collins). She tackles the difficult topics of household and behavioral rules and of etiquette. She discusses punishments (negative consequences for negative actions) even for young children with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. She discusses how her mother handled her in the 1950s and 1960s and I completely agree with Dr. Grandin’s assessment of today’s parents (all parents) and the different lowered standards for behaviors today in general which spills over and affects today’s parents of children with Asperger’s or Autism. Two common pitfalls are being too permissive due to wanting to be the child’s friend, not setting high enough standards—children rise to the standard set for them so if the parents bar is low then they’ll only rise to that and, in Dr. Grandin’s view, using the label-diagnosis as an excuse to not even try to set limits and behavior standards---which I call playing the victim role.

She also addresses behavioral issues with teens and adults, urging them not to play the victim role and to stand up and learn to play by society’s rules rather than play the Asperger’s or Autism card and refuse to comply with normal cultural norms or workplace etiquette. That section is perhaps her toughest and least flexible and may cause some readers to bristle.

Over and over Dr. Grandin reinforces that her opinions are her opinions based on her experience. She says multiple times that the Autism spectrum is wide and even the perspectives, perceptions, and experiences of people with the same exact diagnosis or who are functioning seemingly on an equal level vary so greatly. She does NOT ever claim to be living the one and only way that all people on the spectrum live. For example people who are nearsighted and are told they have a vision rating of 20/200 may all report their vision as seeming the same, things are blurry if they are a certain distance away and so forth. Anyone who knows anything about Autism understands that Autism is not at all as simple as a medical diagnosis of being nearsighted. Despite that fact, I know some people will say what Dr. Grandin says is not 100% true or applicable for their child on the Autism spectrum, however expecting such a high standard from a person writing of their own unique experience is ridiculous. Many people say if they learn one really useful thing from reading a non-fiction book or attending one seminar then it is worth it. There will be at least one thing if not many that readers will find useful, they may see a new perspective, perhaps be able to be more empathetic, or maybe they will learn something new, hear of a study they didn’t know about, realize they want to go on to read a different book sourced, or perhaps they will feel uplifted and encouraged to be an advocate for their after reading this book. If any of that happens with readers then it makes this a useful book that did its job.

The bottom line is that if you like and appreciate past writings of Dr. Grandin you will love this book. If you like her writing style and opinion sharing and have not read all these articles before then this book is a great value and convenient to have all these articles in a bound book format. If you are sick of general cold information that seems too clinical you may like the fresh perspective in this book with its personal take on source materials. If you seek more general information from a more distant source there are other books on the market for you about Autism. If you are a purist who has access to and can understand and properly evaluate statistics you may prefer to read the original medical studies and professional journal articles instead. Certainly if you are a medical doctor working with Asperger’s and Autism issues you should be reading the original professional journal articles and source medical studies. This book is primarily written for the layperson parents and teachers who live or work with people with Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome.

One last thing I will mention is I have just finished reading a book about gifted children and adults who have a dual diagnosis or a misdiagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. In case that book might be something you are interested in I’ll mention it. The title is “Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger's, Depression, And Other Disorders by James Webb MD (ISBN 978-0910707671). That book was excellent.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Defining Personhood, Thinking and Language

Amanda Baggs is smarter than a lot of people I know despite the fact that she has the diagnosis of Autism. Watch this and listen to what she says--all of it---the last sentences are very important. The concept of what Ms. Baggs is saying is probably not able to be grasped by a large number of Americans. I certainly hope you can grasp it.

There is a lot to think about here. So much that contemplating this overwhelms me and makes me upset.

Amanda Baggs has Autism and is non-verbal, she communicates in English language by typing words into a program that reads aloud her writings.

Relevant Links

My past blog post from April 2008 of Amanda Baggs video "Being an Unperson".

Amanda Bagg’s blog

Amanda Bagg’s About page

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Can You Not Imagine...

how a painter could literally go mad trying to paint something realistically? I imagine that trying to capture the exact coloration of this morning glory might be a huge challenge that might just make a person certifiably insane. And in a nutshell you now know why I do not paint realistic images. I don't feel that I'm capable.

Photo of morning glory flower that my younger son and I planted from seed in a container on our deck. Photo taken by ChristineMM on September 17, 2008.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Few Thoughts About Privacy, Email, Hacking and Identity Theft

I'm trying not to talk politics here but I must mention the hacking into Govenor Sarah Palin's Yahoo email account. Here is a media story that explains it.

Because it is apparent from the confession from the anonymous person that they intentionally took actions to pretend they were someone they were not this was an illegal act. I heard on the radio that the jail time could be 18-24 months.

Whether this act was done because someone just thought that they could get away with it and having no respect for privacy or whether it was an intentional act to try to smear Govenor Palin I don't know. It seems to me the younger generation has a more nebulous idea of etiquette, rules and laws than any generation before them. What I mean is I would not put it past a teen or someone in their 20s who grew up with computers and the Internet to have the opinion that hacking is actually not illegal but something to do for fun. Over and over I see examples of the younger generation than mine thinking they don't have to play by society's rules and that they are entitled to push boundaries even when that crosses the line and becomes technically an illegal act.

I just wanted to mention this today as I often talk about Internet safety and privacy issues. As a victim of identity theft I have many reasons to cringe at the idea of personal privacy being violated. These same privacy issues apply to bloggers as well. They apply to our children too, in other words if we allow our children online and they have passwords that are not well protected or use sites with not so great privacy policies, or easily hackable sites, our kids may be opening a portal to violate the entire family's confidential information.

Just a few things to ponder today...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Carnival of Homeschooling Week 142 Has Been Published

The Carnival of Homeschooling #142 was published yesterday at Nerd Family.

I have an entry in this blog carnival. This Carnival provides a lot of homeschool-related reading. Take a look!

If you have a blog or a website and write about homeschooling I encourage you to consider submitting an entry to this weekly blog Carnival. For information on how to make a submission, see here.


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Vibes:Book Review by ChristineMM

Author: Amy Kathleen Ryan
Publication: Houghton Mifflin Company Books for Children, 2008
Genre: Young Adult Fiction; publisher states grades 7 and up
Format: Soft cover book
Full retail price: $16.00
ISBN: 9780618995301

Summary Statement: Couldn’t Put It Down; Has Some Good Discussion Topics Also

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

How this book came to me: I requested an advance reading copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program.

When I read the summary for the book I was instantly curious. A book about a high school girl who thinks she is psychic and goes through her days being able to read the thoughts of her fellow students and everyone else in her life. Knowing how brutal high school and how cruel teenagers can be I was wondered what direction the author would take the story.

The story is told in the first person, in the voice of the psychic teenaged girl. Her voice is unique and fresh. The action in the story moved along at a quick pace never losing my attention. In fact I began reading this before going to bed and ended up reading it in one sitting, not wanting to put it down. I was surprised to see that it was 2:30 in the morning when I finally went to bed (I never stay up that late). I just had to know how the story would wrap up.

This is realistic fiction set in today’s world. The main character’s parents are separated and her mother is a workaholic surgeon climbing the ladder at the local hospital. The main character, Kristie, is unhappy and disconnected from her parents (her surgeon father has been volunteering in Africa for a couple of years). Kristie tries very hard to be different and disconnected from her fellow students (wearing heavy makeup and dressing in homemade weird clothes from trash found in garbage bins on the street). As with many of today’s teenage girls, Kristie uses profanity and thinks she is ugly and makes other negative statements about herself. Also typical of real life, many of the teenaged boys are more interested in looking at her large breasts than looking at her face.

I enjoyed the book not just because it was a page-turner, but because in the end numerous problematic things turn out right and are heading in the right direction. (Some young adult novels published today have negative elements in them and there is no movement toward fixing the situation. I was happy to see this book moving in the right direction on the various issues.)

I shed a few tears before the story ended, especially because it is clear that the main character’s attempt to have a tough exterior was an attempt to hold in and to cover up her hurt and pain. Without giving the story away I will share that Kristie’s family situation improves in the right direction, not the best scenario but in a better place than what it was at the beginning of the story.

Although I did predict two big things that happen I still enjoyed the story and won’t downgrade my rating due to the predictability factor. Perhaps every reader will not make the same prediction as I did. I could also have done without some of the profanity and the numerous negative references to the girls own large breasts, I understand that they were included to describe the state of mind that the character was in (angry and hating herself).

There are good lessons in this book. There are issues in the book that would make for interesting discussion between girls and their mothers or at a book club for teenaged girls. I don't think that this book would be of much interest to boys (but I could be wrong) so I am not sure that this would be a good pick for required reading for discussion in a high school class or for a high school summer reading list. Some of the discussion topics are judging people on their appearances, judging girls based on their breast size, how teenagers treat each other, teasing, how teenagers try to hide their pain and how hard it can be to be a teenager dealing with real problems such as divorce. The book also contains a girl with an eating disorder (who seeks inpatient treatment). The book contains a homosexual male character too which I'm sharing in case you want to know what other types of issues are present.
This is an entertaining escape read for teenagers yet has some good values addressed within the story. The book will pull readers into the story and they will be anxious to find out how the story wraps up.

Families who want to avoid book with supernatural content would probably choose to avoid this book because the main character thinks she is psychic.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How to be a Complete and Utter Failure in Life, Work & Everything Book Review by ChristineMM

Summary Statement: Fresh Twist on Self-Help Advice, Very Effective, Hysterical!

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Title: How to be a Complete and Utter Failure in Life, Work & Everything: 44 ½ Steps to Lasting Underachievement!
Author: Steve McDermott
Genre: non-fiction
Publication: FT Press, Financial Times, an Imprint of Pearson, January 2008
Format: soft cover book
Full Retail Price: $14.99
ISBN: 9780138138103

How this book came to me: I requested a review copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program.

This book is hilarious! Author Steve McDermott has taken self-help advice, some of it so familiar to us that we don’t even ‘hear it’ anymore and twisted it into the opposite. Just reading the one-sentence summary advice in its opposite form is laugh out loud funny, such as “Don’t adjust” and “Don’t take personal responsibility for your life and results”. It is amazing how ludicrous some of the advice on how to fail is, and it hits home when I recognized some of my own actions were right there in the ‘how to fail’ advice such as “Get very impatient in the early stages of growth. You don’t want to wait. You want it now, now, or even sooner than that.”

Each piece of advice is laid out as a step. With each step is a quote from a famous person. There are 2-4 pages of writing to expand on the concept. There is also a box with specific actions to take to achieve the step.

I’m a woman and really enjoyed this book but I can imagine that men would love this book even more. Anyone who has heard the self-help advice before, the advice about how to be successful, how to do well at your career and so on, may not want to hear the same old advice again, in the same old presentation. For some reason twisting the advice into its opposite, and having the advice seem so crazy because it so obviously is guiding us on what exactly to do in order to fail, we ‘get’ the true message that if we want success and happiness, we must do the opposite. The sense of humor is appealing and makes this more readable than some of the many books of advice on how to find success that are already on the market.

Teenagers who may not have read one or a few self-help books yet would also enjoy this book due to the humorous presentation (not to mention that they’d learn a lot from it). Teenage boys really are a perfect audience for this book as so many would be closed-minded to being told what to do especially if it differs from what they think is right because they already know it all, don’t you know? I think it would be a good gift for a teenager, a high school graduation gift, or a good gift for a college student. Additionally psychologists and counselors of any kind may find this book hilarious and a must-read for a good laugh.

The book does not have to be read from front to back. You can flip through the book to find a step to read, put it down and return to it later. Between that type of reading and the sense of humor I can see that this would be a good book to keep on a coffee table at home for people to stumble upon and laugh over, as it is a good conversation starter. It is also good to keep at your office. You or your co-workers might like to read one of the steps to get a bit of comedic relief during the workday.

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