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My teen with autism

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    My teen with autism


    I just learned about Cheryl Swope and Memoria Press last night while researching a new curriculum for my son with autism. I also ordered Cheryl's book from Amazon. I so look forward to it.

    I have just begun homeschooling my 15 year old son who has moderate autism. I pulled him out of school due their lack of educating him, they consistently under estimated his abilities and gave him busy work that was far beneath his level.

    Until I figure out the best curricula and way for him to learn, we are presently doing ACE School of Tomorrow Paces with him. He tested and is working very well with 5th grade Math and Spelling, 4th grade English (grammar), and 3rd grade Literature/Creative Writing/Science and Social Studies. He could likely handle 4th grade Science and Social Studies though based on the ease with which the 3rd grade science and social studies are for him. Fact based information is far easier than fiction or narratives. Inference, deduction, summarizing, identifying main idea over details, interpreting author's purpose, identifying character point of view, predicting outcomes, etc. are challenging. He does will with black and white fact based information and questions. Literature is a challenge, which is why I have shyd away from literature heavy curricula like classical.

    He is supplementing his ACE curricula with Teaching Textbooks Math Grade 5, Brainpop videos, Discovery Education Streaming, videos, Cozy Grammar, and Destination Reading 3. He does well with online multimedia learning, with paired audio and visual.

    He is also doing Skate Kids to develop brain skills.

    He is very independent and is a hard diligent worker with his current curriculum. I would like to encourage this, however not at the expense of his developing imagination, critical thinking skills, flexible thinking, analysis, and creativity. His current curriculum is not oriented this way, however it is geared toward his drive toward independent learning. I sit with him and we discuss things and I help him through the more abstract, analytical, and creative demands. To his credit and to his detriment, he is very performance oriented, seeks the A always, and is concerned about what grade he is in and how he is doing. "Am I doing good Mom?".....he asks this multiple times per day!

    Sam has beautiful cursive handwriting, is good with math facts, numerical operations (up to 5th grade), money, has a keen visual memory, and is a good piano player. Sam is also a good athlete (plays on a 8th grade boys church basketball league and really holds his own with typical though slightly younger kids), rides long distance bikes with me and my husband, is a great swimmer and a very fast runner. He loves Google maps, looking at automobiles online and in person, and enjoys architecture, buildings, field trips to the city to look at hotels and office buildings, elevators, trains, subways, malls and bridges. He does not enjoy reading for pleasure but readily looks at and picks up auto magazines, architectural and home magazines, maps of amusement parks, aquariums, zoos, subway systems. If I take him to the library he will read fact based picture books but not fiction. He loves video games and would play them all the time in his leisure time as he is very good at them, but I limit them to about 30 minutes to 1 hour a day or less.

    He is verbal but pragmatics are often irregular. He is well mannered and behaved but social skills are somewhat rigid and he can perseverate in his speech and ideas. His auditory and reading comprehension are about an early 4th grade level, though he can spell, decode words at a 5th grade level. Grammar skills are about a 4th grade level.

    I am very tentatively looking at a new curricula and way for learning for this summer and fall. Before I found Cheryl's book and classical learning, I was leaning toward Trails of Learning Series Paths of Exploration by Geomatters. Have you heard of this? It appeals to me in many ways, it is unit study format.

    However I am very curious as to how the Memoria Press special needs packages will look.

    Any insight and input would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you,

    Last edited by startabatha; 03-06-2014, 10:10 PM.

    Dear Star,

    You have an impressive ability to convey your son's abilities and skill levels! Thank you for such a thorough description.

    A few thoughts for you:

    1. Wait on Purchasing a New Curriculum until you Read Simply Classical
    Given your son's success with the Paces right now, you may want to continue with these until you finish Simply Classical. The book will help give you direction and specific resources to consider.

    Based on your descriptions, your son will be too high-functioning for the first three levels of our full special-needs packages coming this summer. However, my own children thrived with other Memoria Press resources, because of their inherent simplicity, beauty, structure, built-in review, and minimal visual distractions. We simply selected lower levels of materials for them, or adapted the pace.

    2. For now, ... Add Imagination through Books!
    As you note, the Paces suit your son in some ways, but not in others. You want to develop his imagination and strengthen his reading comprehension. You might appreciate one of the lower-level literature guides from Memoria Press. I do understand your trepidation with literature, but books will uniquely guide your son's imagination and even cultivate social skills in some unexpected ways.

    Stories help my own children develop empathy. In this way, books may even help reduce the very social rigidity you describe.

    Literature can offer mental flexibility and help a child imagine he is someone else for a time. [Just for fun, consider this recent article on the "brain boost" from a novel.]

    As he reads good books, the Memoria Press study guide's simple, guiding questions will assist your son's other difficulties: reading comprehension, stating the main idea, and performing literary analysis.

    My daughter (with autism, learning disabilities, lower cognitive functioning) needs similar help. She has an uncanny memory and astonishes us by recalling the exact title of any Boxcar Children book #1-100. However, asking her to analyze cause and effect or give a single-sentence synopsis proves far more difficult! She is currently working through the Memoria Press Homer Price study guide and loving it.

    3. Prolong His Education, If Possible
    Given the "busywork" he has endured for so long, you might consider giving yourself permission to either extend his graduation date or expand his studies at home beyond graduation. This might not suit your situation, but for us, this relieved pressure for me and allowed my children greater enjoyment of their studies.

    Your son's ability to be well-mannered, to work independently and to complete his work conscientiously will assist your homeschooling efforts. Congratulations on your decision to guide his education more closely! Let us know if you have any further questions.


    Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child

    Cheryl Swope, M.Ed., with Foreword by Dr. Gene Edward Veith
    Last edited by pschaeffer; 03-10-2014, 12:21 PM.


      Teen with Autism


      Thank you so much for your encouraging reply. I can hardly wait to read your book.

      I sense you are right about the literature. Is there a particular guide you would recommend to begin?

      Also, how would you say that the Memoria Press study guides compare to the ones from Progeny Press?





        A local friend uses Progeny, but I never have. Memoria Press literature guides include vocabulary and comprehension, even as they introduce the student to wonderful stories to delight the imagination and, as my daughter says, "transport the reader to another place and time."

        A description of the Memoria Press guides:

        Our reading program for grades 2-7 continues the development of reading skills through the selections.... Reading requires an active, discriminating mind that is challenged to think, compare, and contrast. Students who have been challenged by good literature will never be satisfied with the poor-quality books that are so readily available today.

        Literature study guides train students to become active readers. Our guides focus on vocabulary, spelling, comprehension, and composition skills. Each lesson includes a word study to help students build vocabulary. The comprehension questions challenge students to consider what they have read, identify the important content of each story, and compose clear, concise answers (a difficult skill at any age). Writing is thinking, and good questioning stimulates the child to think and write.

        You might consider beginning with Homer Price, because you describe your son as a young man who enjoys investigating. He might identify with Homer Price and absorb some humor at the same time. Some teens on the autism spectrum seem to have difficulties with subtle humor, so they enjoy the more obvious humor presented in children's books.

        With your son's comprehension skills at about 3rd to early 4th grade, the Homer Price lessons might be a good fit. See an example here.

        Another good option at about the same level would be Farmer Boy. You describe your son as a physical, active young man, so he might enjoy this book. See a sample.

        If these seem too easy, consider the Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe. Many boys on the autism spectrum, even those who do not enjoy fiction, appreciate the fantasy genre. The book introduces allegory in an appealing, edifying way.

        I hope that helps. Memoria Press offer a sample at each level, so you can look before you purchase. See what you think:

        Thanks -

        Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child
        Cheryl Swope, M.Ed., with Foreword by Dr. Gene Edward Veith