Since you asked.. We start with a cheese course, then wrap up with a chocolate course. Kickin' it old school.
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A couple of minor corrections:
PDD/NOS (pervasive developmental disorder-not specified)
IEP - individual *education* plan
And for the record, we got our services without shenanigans - my kids were far enough delayed and had such an obvious diagnosis (dyspraxia) that it was never an issue.
That's what I get for posting before my wife and friendly neighborhood fact-checker is awake.
My wife is a public school teacher (6th grade), and we're parents of two preschoolers (ages 2 and 3) with cognitive delays (dyspraxia). As a result, we've come in contact over the past few years with a *lot* of people who have children all over the developmental spectrum.
We've seen many cases where a parent sees a developmental delay in their child and takes them for testing. The doctor agrees that they may have a slight delay, but doesn't really have a name for it. This gets you no services from the school system. Often, the doctor will offer to diagnose with an "autism spectrum disorder" (usually PPD/NOS) so that the child can get services.
Why? Autism is *huge* right now. Funding is there. Services are there. A doctor attaching a finding of autism means your kid is guaranteed to get an IEP (individual instruction plan) which can be an incredible boost to a kid like mine. Believe me, I know - my daughter has made amazing strides since she started our county's developmental preschool program in September.
Other times I've seen cases where the first doctor refuses to diagnose autism. The parents then shop around doctors until they find someone who is willing to diagnose autism so they can get services for their kid. There's a university program near me that seems to basically be writing blank checks for whatever diagnosis you think your kid has.
Autism is real, and it's a terrible, terrible disease. But over the years they've expanded the definition to the point where it has become meaningless, and well-meaning doctors and parents who are just trying to get help for the kids in their care have been behind a lot of it.
Sure thing, here ya go.
The eyes came out a little cockeyed, but meh. The servo is supported with puddy and the whole works are held together with binary epoxy. You can also see the control box, which basically just takes RS232 via the DB9 and converts into signals for the servo. There are six total servo channels, only one of which is in use currently (I was ambitious once upon a time).
Before the kids came along, I built a number of fun electronics projects for Halloween. I built a flicker circuit I got off of Wolfstone (a great site for would-be haunters).
Along with a couple of friends, I built a coffin-leaper one year, too. I built the electronics (a pressure sensitive mat that activated a solenoid valve). Another fellow built the pneumatics and another built the actual coffin and dummy. When you'd step on the mat, the dummy would spring up and a loop tape with sounds effect and a strobe would go off.
I also built a lightning/thunder machine using a "color organ" (basically a device that causes different flood lights to flash in time to various sound frequencies) that came from a Velleman kit. I set up an old pair of PC speakers playing a loop CD of some thunder and use that to drive the color organ. I usually get a few good jumps from kids who aren't expecting it.
I have a commercial fog machine that I use with a timer to give my house a nice cloud of low-hanging fog. I built a fog-chiller out of a cheapo foam beer cooler by cutting two holes in either side and running a flexible piece of aluminum ducting through it (with a twist in the middle and holes punched in it to increase surface area). This keeps the fog hanging low. Another tip is to spray down the area with the fog using a garden hose.
I started working on animating a Bucky skull a while back, too. I added eyes attached to a servo and wrote a program in Windows that let you move them with sliders. I intended to animate the mouth, too, but my kids came along shortly after that. I still pull out my decorations every year, but my own little goblins have taken priority over my projects - so it goes.
I'd love to finish the Bucky skull and maybe build a bookshelf where the books pop out on their own (driven by a motor and series of cams). Maybe one day when I have some time to myself again
Hope this gave everyone a few good ideas for projects to scare the neighborhood kids -- happy haunting!!
I thought the same thing recently when I watched a DVR'd TV show displaying an emergency announcement about a tornado from three days ago. Fat lot of good that did me, it just interrupted my show - if the tornado was going to get me, it would have done it three days ago.