Topic | Living science suggestions for 13yo special needs child

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  • Sue

    My son is 13 & mildly autistic (will turn 14 this summer). He is at least a few years behind what would be 7th grade for a neuro-typical child. I have decided that his 12yo sister (going into 7th) is ready for Apologia General Science, so I will teach them science separately this coming year.

    We have been using living science books for the past two years and just finished studying fossils, geology, volcanos, and earthquakes. Some of that was “over his head” a bit (i.e., The Geology Book, published by Master Books), but he definitely didn’t take too well to the Exploring Creation with…. series.

    He seems to do well with books at about a 4th or 5th grade level, especially if the harder ones are read to him. I asked him what he would like to focus on for science next year, and he said he would like to study more about animals and insects (“like, what their bodies are like and stuff like that….”), and he also mentioned doing some things outdoors. His lessons definitely need to be short.

    I am looking for suggestions of living science books for him. I don’t know anything about some of the SCM recommended books such as the Burgess Animal Book, and I’m afraid I’ll end up choosing things that seem too babyish for him. Even though he mostly functions emotionally and mentally at perhaps the level of an 8- to 10-year old, he is often well aware of writing that is aimed at a younger child.

    I’m wondering if I can adapt some books such as Burgess by just not using the cutesy names like Jenny Wren and Buster Bear, or would the stories still be to young for him? Two years ago, we did read Eugenie Clark’s biography, Shark Lady, and he seemed to enjoy that, but I think we would still want to supplement something like that with more information about the particular animal. I’m also thinking that he has likely forgotten much of the basic stuff we learned four or five years ago about which animals are mammals, amphibians, reptiles, etc.

    Any ideas? Thanks.


    Here is my Science/Nature Study pinterest board. I share it because I have been trying to add lists of living science books to it. I have not had to time to study them all out in detail, but maybe some of the links might help you. There are both elementary and middle school lists on there. Perhaps you could mix and match some to meet his needs.

    You might also ask Blue J if she has any wisdom. Her Pinterest and Amazon lists are amazingly full. 😉


    * bump *

    (And thanks, sheraz. I was actually just looking at a list link you posted here that was very helpful.)

    blue j

    Sue, if you are still interested, here are my Amazon lists with living books on them:

    Living Science Books

    Living Nature Study

    Those links will take you right to my lists, but if you look to the left, you will likely be able to see my other book lists which include a general science list as well.





    What about Jack’s Insects?


    I immediately thought of Jack’s insects, too! I am doing this with my 4th grader.


    I thought I remembered looking at Jack’s Insects once, but I can’t get it from my local library systems, even through the state-wide ILL. Cry

    Wish I recalled where (if?) I got it.

    Thanks, Jacqleene, for your lists.

    Karen Smith

    I have not read these in their entirety, but what I have read is interesting. You will want to preview them to see if they are suitable for your son. They also may have typos in them since Google Books tends to not “clean up” the text after scanning as well as other providers of out-of-copyright books.

    This one is on birds:

    This one is on insects:


    You can get Jack’s insect and the companion study guide here at the SCM bookstore.


    I just wanted to add that maybe your son could do Applogia General Science. My 14 (amost 15) year old son has PDD-NOS. I am constantly amazed at what he can do. He is finishing 8th grade and just completed Apologoa Physical Science in a weekly co-op class where he maintained an “A” average through the whole year. Of course, you know your son best! But I just wanted to give you my testimony in case it was an encouragement to you!



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