My wife is home schooling Preston, as the local school system could not really cope with his unique needs and abilities. Children who are on ‘the spectrum’ are not like neurotypical children. In Preston’s case, he not only is bright, but gets bored and pays attention to things that most people would not, like the order of books on a shelf or a sign that should not be up. Things like that. So, because his needs were not being sufficiently handled by the school system-and, don’t get me wrong, Hanover Schools are excellent, for most. I have nothing against this school system or even Preston’s former school–they just are not equipped or staffed to handle one, let alone many-which they claim they do.
Anyway, as part of Preston’s home school curriculum, I am teaching him programming and how computers work.
To my delight, he has a knack for the programming part. I think he will for the hardware as well, though his mind wanders a great deal when I am teaching him about the hardware. A good programmer should know the basics of how the computer works.
Along those lines, I dug up a small computer (one with very little capabilities called an ‘Arduino’, they are used for controlling things) and an old laptop and we made two LED’s blink in varying patterns and duration. While he got a bit bored while I was setting it up, he got very excited when we made the LED’s do things.
That was fun, but it also showed me a bit about his very anal attention: those LED’s HAD to blink at precise intervals. He could not cope with random intervals of on or off. He also did not like the brightness. I explained that, while we can control the brightness, we were not doing so then, that was for another lesson. He, reluctantly, went along with that, but those LED’s blinking differently, he could not take that. So, we changed the program so they would blink at a constant rate. I had him tell me how to do that. With only a few lessons, he was able to do that.
Of course, by that point, our four year old was interested and, he too, wanted to make the LED’s blink. Preston and I changed the code so that you could type a number and make the LED’s blink at that rate. Xander was just as excited as Preston.
It is amazing how Preston reasons things and how well he remembers. This was the first lesson in a couple of weeks and he remembered the last things we did–I did a verbal quiz and he was 100% correct.
HIs tendency to be so anal, though, can be a slippery slope. We will work through the rough spots, but I think he will be able to use it as a strength. In this case, the randomness of the blinking LED’s made him a bit nuts, but he worked through that and came up with a solution.
Of course, the notion that a dollar’s worth of parts would provide he and Xander with so much fun is, itself, amazing. Like his brain.
I love that kid.