Memorial Day

James learned about why we celebrate Memorial Day last week and his thoughts about the men and women who serve our country in the armed forces are very dear.  His grandfather whom he calls Pop Pop was at West Point last week celebrating his 65th graduation from the USMA.  James was interested to hear from his grandmother about the  parade where the cadets march in front of the old graduates. It is called “passing in review” and it is a way of showing their respect. He asked his grandmother in a subsequent email to tell him more about the parade!

In his school lesson they read  Decoration Day by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

CREATIVE WRITING: Reflect on this Memorial Day lesson and the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  To whom is Longfellow speaking in the poem? Who is the intended audience of the poem? What response do you think Longfellow sought to inspire when he penned Decoration Day?

THIS POEM IS ABOUT FALLEN SOLDIERS.  IT IS DIRECTED AT THOSE WHO HAVE GIVEN THEIR LIFE IN WAR. I AM SO MOVED BY THESE WORDS AND SO VERY GRATEFUL TO ALL THOSE WHO HAVE GIVEN THEIR LIVES TO DEFEND OUR COUNTRY. I CANNOT IMAGINE A MORE SIGNIFICANT SACRIFICE THAN YOUR LIFE FOR OUR COUNTRY. I THINK OUR MEN AND WOMEN IN SERVICE ARE THE BRAVEST IN THE WORLD. ALL OF THEM DESERVE HUGE INCREASES IN THEIR SALARIES.  I WOULD BE MORE THAN HAPPY TO INCREASE MY TAXES TO PAY THEM MORE FOR THE AMAZING SERVICES THEY PROVIDE FOR OUR COUNTRY.  ALL OF OUR TROOPS ARE MY BIGGEST HEROES!

 

A Special Coin

James has a brother getting married soon and we have all been pretty focused on the upcoming wedding.  Its easy to lose sight of the big picture and the things that matter most when you are caught up in planning and details but the way James answered this coin assignment was a great reminder to me of what is most important!

A coin collector is called a numismatist, pronounced new-miss-ma-tist.  Numismatist means “someone who studies and collects things that are used as money including coins, tokens, paper bills and medals.  The earliest coin collection belonged to Augustus Caesar.  Caesar was the first emperor of Rome who lived from 63 B.C. to 14 A.D.. Caesar not only collected coins, but gave them away as gifts.

  • What is a coin collector called? NUMISMATIST
  • What does a coin collector do? ANY COINS, DOLLARS OR MEDALS
  • Who owned the earliest coin collection? AUGUSTUS CEASAR
  •  Do you have any interest in being a numismatist? YES, I THINK IT WOULD BE FUN.
  •  How would you want to start a collection? I WANT TO START WITH QUARTERS GOING FOM TODAY THROUGH THE PAST.
  • Explained about state and national park quarters.  Told him we will do a lesson about national park quarters. Would you like to collect these? YES

Age, rarity, condition and precious metal all effect how valuable a coin may become to a collector.  The cost of a coin may surprise you; you can buy some Roman coins that are more than 1600 years old for less than $10. Then you can find a 1909 wheat penny that sells for hundreds of dollars!  In general, the harder a coin is to find, the more people there are that want it.  The more people that want a coin the more money that coin is going to be worth.  This is called the law of supply and demand, and it describes the worth or cost of nearly any collectable.

  • Name one attribute that can affect how valuable a coin is. AGE
  • What is the law of supply and demand? PRINCIPLE THAT AS DEMAND INCREASES PRICE INCREASES
  • Why does supply and demand rule the value or worth of nearly any collectable? THE MORE RARE A COIN IS THE MORE VALUABLE IT IS.

CREATIVE WRITING:  Coins are very similar, no matter what they are used for or where they were produced.  Most coins have markings that borrow from the local culture and denote value of the coin.  The earliest coins in Lydia were stamped with a royal symbol of a lion; our United States coins are generally stamped with the head of historical figure, and value.  Reflect on what you have learned about coins. You have been commissioned to create a commemorative coin for an upcoming family reunion.  Think about your family; what type of scene or figure would you want stamped on the coin?  Remember that this coin is commemorative, and will be distributed widely to grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, mom and dad.  Design a coin that would give your family something to remember when they leave the family reunion. I WOULD LOVE TO CREATE A COIN FOR MY FAMILY.  IT WOULD HAVE A PICTURE OF MY ENTIRE FAMILY ON ONE SIDE.  IT WOULD HAVE AN IMAGE OF MY FAMILY CREST ON THE OTHER SIDE. THE FAMILY MOTTO WOULD READ, IN LOVE AND FAITH ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.  I WOULD ADD A VALUE OF PRICELESS.  IT WOULD BE GIVEN OUT AT MY BROTHERS WEDDING IN JUNE.  IT WOULD BE MY GIFT TO MY BROTHER AND NEW SISTER IN LAW.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

James turned 15 on Tuesday.  His birthdays used to make me want to stay in bed for three days.  I hated that he was another year older and it seemed like he had not developed at all.  Despite monumental effort on everyone’s part it seemed like he was falling farther and farther behind.  Thank goodness that was NOT true.  He was developing and growing and maturing–he just could not show us because he could not communicate!  RPM changed everything for us and now we know that James is as normal a 15 year old as could be!  All the good and the bad of being a teen.  We are grateful!  Here is the lesson his SLP did with him on his birthday.

James, today is your birthday!  Happy Birthday!  How are you feeling?   I AM FEELING OLDER AND WISER TODAY

  • What are we talking about today? BIRTHDAYS
  • What made it easier to record specific birth dates? CALENDARS
  • What is your birthdate? MAY 3, 1999
  • What is the difference between birthdate and birthday? BIRTHDATES HAPPEN ONLY ONCE, BIRTHDAYS HAPPEN EVERY YEAR.

 

Each year we do many things to celebrate birthdays, from gathering with family to blowing out candles.  The birthday cake is said to have originated in ancient Greece where people would take a round cake in the shape of the moon to the temple of Artemis. Artemis was the goddess of the moon. Candles were placed on the cake to make it look as if the moon were glowing!

 

  • Name one thing we do to celebrate birthdays. HAVE BIRTHDAY CAKE
  • What was a round cake in ancient Greece meant to resemble? MOON
  • Who was the goddess of the Moon? ARTEMIS
  • How do you feel about birthday cakes? I REALLY LIKE CHOCOLATE CAKE.

 

While the birthday cake is said to originate in ancient Greece, the tradition of a child’s birthday party originated in Germany, called “kinderfeste.”. Many countries celebrate birthdays very similar to how we celebrate them in the United States.  Countries that have similar traditions include Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, and Ireland.  Birthday customs and celebrations are often influenced by religion, language, and geographic location.

 

  • In what country did children’s birthday parties begin? GERMANY
  • What was a birthday party in Germany called? KINDERFESTE
  • Name a country that has similar birthday traditions to the U.S. AUSTRIA
  • What often influences birthday customs and celebrations? RELIGION

 

Many birthday celebrations include presents. Birthday presents can be as simple as a handpicked bouquet of flowers or as involved as a trip to the city to see a play! No matter the size or shape of a gift, it is common courtesy to show your appreciation for birthday gifts with a “Thank You.”

 

  • How can you show your appreciation for a birthday gift? THANK YOU NOTE
  • What was your favorite birthday gift ever?  ONE YEAR I GOT A USED BICYCLE. I LOVED IT AND WAS REALLY EXCITED TO LEARN TO RIDE IT.

 

CREATIVE WRITING: Reflect on this birthday lesson and birthday celebrations you may have had in your lifetime.  What was your favorite birthday celebration? How would you like to celebrate your birthday this year?

ONE OF MY FAVORITE BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS WAS WHEN I TURNED 8. WE CELEBRATED MY BIRTHDAY AT MY GRANDPARENTS HOUSE IN WILLIAMSBURG.  IT WAS SO VERY NICE TO CELEBRATE WITH MY GRANDPARENTS. THIS YEAR I CELEBRATED MY BIRTHDAY EARLY. IT WAS VERY NICE. I HAD A DINNER PARTY WITH MY FAMILY. THEN WE HAD CAKE.  IT WAS DELICIOUS. AFTER THAT I OPENED PRESENTS. I GOT NEW CLOTHES, MUSIC AND SOME BOOKS. IT WAS VERY NICE.

NOW THAT I AM 15 I HAVE SOME NEW GOALS FOR MYSELF. I WANT TO WORK ON SOME NEW SKILLS. I AM INTERESTED IN GOING TO SCHOOL WITH NORMAL KIDS IN THE FUTURE.  SO I NEED TO LEARN TO CONTROL MY OUTBURSTS. I ALSO N EED TO LEARN TO CONTROL MY NOISES BECAUSE I KNOW THEY ARE DISRUPTIVE. I THINK I NEED T BE PUSHED A LITTLE HARDER TO DO STUFF I DON’T LIKE TO DO. I AM THRILLED WITH THIS LAST YEAR OF HOME SCHOOL! I WANT TO BE HOME SCHOOLED NEXT YEAR TOO.  ALSO WOULD LIKE TO MORE OPPORTUNITIES TO BE WITH NORMAL KIDS DOING SOCIAL THINGS. I WANT SOME FRIENDS TO HANG OUT WITH.

I WOULD LIKE TO STUDY AMERICAN HISTORY. I WOULD REALLY LOVE TO STRETCH THIS YEAR AND PUSH THE ACADEMIC WORK EVEN HARDER. I THINK I AM READY FOR HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL WORK. I KNOW I CAN LEARN MORE ALL THE WORK OF THIS LAST YEAR HAS MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN MY LIFE.

 

Modern Day Writing Circle

We’ve moved on to study the Enlightenment with all of the new ideas it brings on man, God, government, religion and philosophy.  One of James’ first lessons was about the literature of the Enlightenment period and the arrival of periodicals, newspapers and the first modern novels. James learned that Writing Circles were very popular in the 18th century.  His writing assignment was the following:

“Writing circles were very popular in the 18th century. Form your own modern day writing circle! First write an advertisement to attract fellow writers. What qualities are you looking for in your writing colleagues? Next, how would the first meeting go? What will be the purpose of your writing group”?

WRITING CIRCLE ADVERTISEMENT: YOUNG TEEN LOOKING FOR INTERESTED WRITERS TO JOIN WRITING CIRCLE. BEST WRITING HAS CENTERED AROUND CURRENT EVENTS. ALL INTERESTED SHOULD BE WELL INFORMED. AT YOUR EARLIEST CONVENIENCE RESPOND VIA EMAIL.

MEETING: ALL MEMBERS INTRODUCE THEMSELVES, INCLUDING THEIR INTERESTS AND AFFILIATIONS. THEN, WE DISCUSS ON A LIST OF TOPICS. MOST TOPICS WILL BE POLITICAL. ALL PARTIES WILL BE HEARD. EACH PERSON CAN LEAD THEIR OWN TOPIC. WE WILL WRITE INFORMED COLUMNS FOR THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE PEOPLE.

 

 

God and suffering

James goes to Rivendell school on Friday mornings for assembly.  Assembly involves singing, some school spirit stuff and a speaker who gives the students some spiritual food for thought.  This week the assembly had a panel of students who were asked questions about their faith.  Questions like “how did you come to believe in God? When did you know? What led you to know for sure, was there a point in time you were not sure”?  James was eager to join the conversation but waited until he got back to his classroom at our house to write the following:

I HAVE STRUGGLED WITH KNOWING GOD. HE KEPT ME IN PRISON, 14 YEARS WITH NO WAY OUT. I FELT ALONE, FRUSTRATED, ANGRY, AND DEPRESSION WAS ALWAYS NEAR. I PRAYED EVERYDAY. DID HE EVER ANSWER? MONDAY I DREADED SCHOOL, BUT IT DIDN’T GO ANY BETTER BY FRIDAY. MY HOPE CAME FROM FAMILY, TRUSTING I WAS A CHILD OF GOD, AND THOSE MOMENTS OF CONTROL OF MY BODY.
THEN, MY MOM TOOK ME TO TALK TO SOMA. GOD HEARD MY PRAYERS. I NEEDED TO SUFFER, TO ALSO DECIDE WHO I AM, BEFORE I COULD APPRECIATE THIS BLESSING. NOW I KNOW THE LORD IS GOD AND MY PURPOSE.  I AM A MESSAGE AND A LEADER FOR THOSE LIKE ME. I AM NOT SPECIAL BUT I AM DIFFERENT.

 

This was hard for me to read.  As James’ mother I can’t bear the thought that he was in such despair all those years. I like to think that he had some joy in those years and I know he was loved well by his family.  I think suffering is the hardest thing to square about God.  I believe that God loves us beyond measure and wants nothing but good for his creation.  It is a mystery that He doesn’t intervene and stop all the suffering of this very broken world.  In my journey of faith I have come to rely on the author and theologian Henri Nouwen to help me express or understand these questions.  Henri Nouwen was a gifted scholar who taught at the University of Notre Dame and Harvard but he spent the last 15 years of his life living in a community of disabled men and women called L’Arche Daybreak. He learned so much from his time there. I’d like to end this post with a passage from him on brokenness.  I hope any readers are as helped by his words as I am.

Being Broken by Henri Nouwen

Jesus was broken on the cross. He lived his suffering and death not as an evil to avoid at all costs but as a mission to embrace. We too are broken. We live with broken bodies, broken hearts, broken minds, or broken spirits. We suffer from broken relationships. How can we live our brokenness? Jesus invites us to embrace our brokenness as he embraced the cross and live it as part of our mission. He asks us not to reject our brokenness as a curse from God that reminds us of our sinfulness but to accept it and put it under God’s blessing for our purification and sanctification. Thus, our brokenness can become a gateway to new life.

 

Murphy’s Law

Yesterday James learned about the history of the eponym “Murphy’s law”.

MURPHY’S LAW

EPONYMOUS ADAGES 

Captain Edward A. Murphy was an aerospace engineer at Edwards Air Force Base in 1949. Aerospace engineers design aircraft, spacecraft and satellites to make sure they function according to design.  Murphy was a team member of Project MX981 studying the psychological effects of rapid deceleration. One day Murphy noticed that a technician wired an experiment incorrectly and remarked “If there is any way to do it wrong, he’ll find it.”  Murphy’s project manager George E. Nichols recorded the eponymous adage as “Murphy’s Law.” An eponym is related to the person for whom something is named. An adage is a short but memorable saying that is considered true by many people. Murphy’s Law is known simply as “If anything can go wrong, it will.”

 

  • What job did Captain Edward Murphy have? AEROSPACE ENGINEER
  • Name at least one thing an aerospace engineer designs. SPACECRAFT
  • What is an eponym related to? PERSONS NAME
  • What is an adage? STATEMENT ACCEPTED BY MANY

 

Project MX981 ended with a high safety record, attributed the observation of Murphy’s Law and the necessity to circumvent it.  It became a simple reminder to engineers to be cautious and make sure that every possible outcome is accounted for.  “If anything can go wrong, it will,” was then quoted widely in the media and eventually found its way into aerospace advertisements.

 

  • What does it mean to circumvent? TO GO AROUND SOMETHING
  • Why would observation of Murphy’s Law lead to a project high safety record? BECAUSE REMINDS PEOPLE TO TAKE PRECAUTIONS

 

Murphy’s Law has been widely adapted.  In England, the same adage is called “Sod’s Law,” used as a sympathetic reference to an unlucky person.  An example of Sod’s law in action can be as simple as “toast tending to land butter side down.” Modern computer hackers observe Hanlon’s Razor that eliminates unlikely explanations for phenomenon with “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” In Mostly Harmless, science fiction author Douglas Adams writes “a common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”

 

  • Pick one variation of Murphy’s Law and explain it. AN EXAMPLE OF MURPHY’S LAW VARIATION IS COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS WHO TRY TO ACCOUNT FOR USER ERROR.

Creative Writing:  Now that you have learned about eponymous adages, can you think of a short, but memorable, saying that can be attributed to you, a friend or family member? What would be (Student’s Name)’s Law?

AN ADDAGE I CAN THINK OF IS DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE MIND OF AN AUTISTIC PERSON. I WOULD CALL THIS SOMA’S LAW.

Reflect on Murphy’s Law; “If anything can go wrong, it will.”  Describe a time when this happened in your life. Did anything positive happen as a result of things going wrong? MY ENTIRE LIFE WAS UNDER MURPHY’S LAW. SO ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING THAT COULD GO WRONG DID GO WRONG. I WAS STUCK IN SCHOOL WHERE I WAS TREATED LIKE AN IDIOT ALL THE TIME. I HAD NO WAY COMMUNICATING WITH ANYONE. MY LIFE WAS NOT MEANINGFUL. I WAS ABSOLUTELY MISERABLE. THEN RPM CHANGED MY LIFE. IT OPENED THE DOORS TO COMMUNICATION AND EDUCATION. THE QUALITY OF MY LIFE HAS RADICALLY IMPROVED SINCE ELIZABETH, SHANNON AND SOMA CAME INTO MY LIFE.

A Green Community

Last week James learned about the history of Earth Day and he and his SLP discussed some of the challenges facing environmental advocates and conservationists today. They wrapped up with the following creative writing assignment.

CREATIVE WRITING: A Billion Acts of Green offers several suggestions on how to protect the planet and improve communities.  Can you recall any suggestions that you have seen in action in your home or school?  How would you like to participate in Earth Day this year?  If you had unlimited resources, time and manpower how would you want to celebrate in environmental conservation in the future?
THE CONSERVATION PLAN THAT I WOULD DESIGN IS LIVING IN A MORE ECOLOGICALLY FRIENDLY WAY.  TO START, I WOULD BUILD A MODEL HOUSING COMMUNITY.  THE COMMUNITY WOULD CONSIST OF PEOPLE WITH AUTISM WHO COMMUNICATE ON THE LETTER BOARD.  THIS WOULD BE AN IDEAL COMMUNITY BECAUSE PEOPLE WITH AUTISM HAVE FAIRLY SIMPLE LIFESTYLES.  THE COMMUNITY WOULD BE POWERED BY SOLAR ENERGY.  THE HOUSES WOULD BE FROM MATERIALS THAT HAVE BEEN RECYCLED.
I WOULD USE AUTISTIC PEOPLE TO WORK IN THE COMMUNITY.  I WOULD PLAN TO HAVE A CONSERVATION CENTER IN THE COMMUNITY.  THE CENTER WOULD BE COMPLETELY GREEN.  IT WOULD BE A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE WITH AUTISM CAN USE THE LETTER BOARD TO SHARE THEIR IDEAS OF HOW THEY CAN LIVE IN WAYS THAT DO NOT HARM THE ENVIRONMENT.  IT WOULD BE SORT OF A GREEN AUTISTIC THINK TANK.
AUTISTIC PEOPLE HAVE SO MUCH TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE WORLD THAT IT WOULD BE AMAZING TO HARNESS THEIR COLLECTIVE MINDS TO SOLVE PROBLEMS IN THE WORLD. THE MOST EXCITING PART WOULD BE TO LIVE IN A COMMUNITY WHERE I WOULD BE ACCEPTED AS I AM.  NO ONE WOULD FIND IT STRANGE THAT I DON’T SPEAK.  NO ONE WOULD FIND IT STRANGE THAT I PLAY BY MYSELF.  NO WOULD FIND MY STIMS ANNOYING.  
 
How would you keep your green community sustainable?
THE COMMUNITY WOULD BE SUSTAINABLE BY MEMBER CONTRIBUTING TO ITS PRODUCTIVITY.  SOME PEOPLE WOULD FARM AND PRODUCE FOOD THE COMMUNITY WOULD EAT. OTHERS WOULD RUN THE PHYSICAL OPERATIONS BY MAKING RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES LIKE SOLAR PANELS AND WINDMILLS.  EVERYONE WOULD HAVE A JOB TO DO ACCORDING TO THEIR TALENTS.  THE END.