According to the mythology, kids with autism are absolutely fanatical about legos, K'nex, computers and video games. Not so Tommy. In the past, he'd stuff his legos into his piggy bank until it was so full that nothing could be removed... or build "contraptions" with bits of legos and string, and carry them around in his pockets.
This Christmas, though, he received the K'Nex Roller Coaster - hundreds of tiny pieces, dozens of pages of diagrams, and an amazing payoff: a working electrical roller coaster. Together with Dad, Tom actually built the thing - and it works! It's a huge step forward for him, and may be - in part - a result of working on hands-on collaborative projects with a homeschool resource center.
In addition to building and experimenting, each member of Tom's homeschool group of 9 kids or so learned about and reported on an explorer. Tom picked Hiram Bingham, discoverer of Macchu Pichu (in Peru). In the photo below he is making his presentation to the group!
Our next challenges are biggies. We're taking on executive functioning skills, social interactions, and reading comprehension on a higher level (beyond who, what, where and when - we're now looking at "why," and "what does it all mean?").