Dead Computer

Sunday, The Boy had a computer go down.

I can usually get things up and running, or at least figure out the problem. That day, the problem turned out to be a really old computer that just wasn’t going to turn on anymore.

He had found it high up on a shelf in my closet, and had been using it for awhile, primarily to watch videos. Why can’t he watch videos on the portable DVD player he has? You’re asking the wrong person. It was a Gateway computer (I don’t think they even make them anymore, do they?) that his dad and I had bought, possibly before he was even born. It wasn’t even capable of accessing wi-fi. Yep, OLD.

pexels-photo-51415But to him, it was like watching a friend die, and that core piece of The Boy’s autism, attachment to things, reared its head again. He insisted he had damaged it by dropping it, which he hadn’t. He insisted that it couldn’t possibly be replaced. We kept focusing on the fact that he is getting a new computer – a delayed Christmas present to replace the brand new one that crapped out on us the day after Christmas. He didn’t want to hear any of it. His old friend, the Gateway, was toast, and his world was ending.

The Man turned to me at one point in the day-long drama with utter disbelief that he felt so strongly about a thing.  “I don’t get it,” he said. I tried to explain about attachment to things, but it is difficult for us NTs to understand.

I do know when The Boy is hurting, though. We made the best of the day, tried to be gentle and talk him through it. By evening, he was making peace with himself and the reality that the computer was not going to turn on again. And the next day he was searching online for a new one.

It’s not going to go away, this attachment to things. Or maybe it will. I don’t know. It’s hard to predict and prepare for, though. So in the meantime, we just have to try to understand, get some perspective, and be gentle. Poor kiddo.

Zondle: A Great Tool for Summer Learning

One of The Boy’s deficits in his learning has been multiplication tables. As with most math concepts, he really has no interest, ergo, no motivation to learn these, and it is now hindering him from getting further (i.e. up to grade level) in his math class.  “We’re doing algebra!” he reported a few weeks ago, yet he struggles without a printed chart to reference.

I asked him if this was something we could practice this summer, and surprisingly, he said, “That sounds like a good idea.” Maybe he is feeling unprepared for what’s next, and would like to feel more confident – who knows! But since he agreed, I’m going to run with it.

So along with all of our other summer plans, I am going to expect him to practice some multiplication facts every day.  How? Using Zondle.

The Boy loves his iPadZondle is an online tool that teachers use to get kids excited to practice skills on the computer.  While they practice, the opportunity to play some games pop up as a reward for correct answers, and it seems like it was made for kiddos with attention issues, and who need motivators to complete work. The best part is that you (the “teacher”) can keep track of your “student’s” progress. Did The Boy practice his 8s today? Well let me just open up my online gradebook… Why yes!  Yes, he did.  And he got them all right!  It even builds in an additional reward system. You can award badges, and even”zollars” which they can spend on whatever reward you’d like to offer.  Three days in a row with zero mistakes? You earn 300 zollars which means we go for ice cream after dinner.  Or whatever!

You do have to sign up as a teacher (but we’re all teachers, aren’t we?), and you do have to set your child up with an account if they don’t already have one at school.  Then you have to put your child in your “class”, but once you have that set up, you are golden.  You can browse other assignments submitted by teachers so that you don’t have to re-create the wheel, and you can even modify them to fit your needs.

I encourage you to check it out if you’re not familiar with it.  I’m finding it a great resource, one that teachers and parents can both use, especially those of us who will not be home with our kiddos this summer!

Have You Tried Quizlet?

Ever searching for ways to make homework easier on The Boy, slow processor that he is, a couple of years ago I came across Quizlet.  Some general ed teacher-friends of mine swore by it as a way for their students to study whatever they wanted without wasting endless index cards on flashcards.

I first used it with The Boy for spelling.  Computers naturally engage his interest, and in fourth grade, he would come home with 4 page spelling packets to complete.  Overwhelming for any kid, an assignment like this would take my kid an entire week (and lots of wheeling and dealing on my part to bribe him to get it done).  After using Quizlet to help him study the spelling words, I realized that he could test on those words right on the site.  I contacted his special ed teacher who agreed that he could do that in place of those four-page packets, which were redundant for my little ace speller anyway.  Why inflict multiple pages of work on a kid that could spell the words correctly after a session or two pf practice on this website?  He would quiz on the words, and I would take a screenshot of his results and email it to his teachers.

It saved all of us a lot of unnecessary headache.

We are back to using Quizlet to study, but nor for spelling this time.  For big bad social studies tests, with thirty-five or so facts to learn on the study guide.  Last night, I searched the site for a set of cards about Egypt and Kush that had already been created by some other user, and I found quite a few sets (there are bound to be hundreds if not thousands of other schools using the very same textbook, right?).  I kept the cards I wanted, deleted the ones that didn’t pertain to The Boy’s particular study guide, and typed in anything that was missing.

quizlet1

The Boy and I went through the flashcards, while I let him look at the study guide to answer the questions.  He got three wrong, so we went back and corrected those three.  Then we played a game where he had to match the correct phrases and terms, all laid out on the screen in a random format, and it was timed.  We played five times so that he could try to beat his best time.

quizlet2

I bet The Boy didn’t even realize he was studying.  It’s simple memorization, but that’s our goal with testing, right?  And using a site like this that is web-based (and has an app!) and fun is one way to get my kid from point A to point B.  If you haven’t tried it with your own children (or something you have to memorize!), you should.  It’s another resource for those of us trying to handle the tide of homework.