What I'm Reading Wednesday

Books, books, books. I love books.

What have I finished since last week and what am I reading now??

Well, I finished the audio version of Gone Girl and I LOVED IT!!

It was so good. Much better than the movie and much better than the "book." As I mentioned last week I was listening to the audio version and it was very very good. The characters really came alive for me listening to the story. Amy is so totally nuts. N.U.T.S. and while the movie did get into the nutty behavior, the book does a much better job. Highly recommend the audio version of Gone Girl over the print.

I also started and finished Thinking in Pictures My Life with Autism by Temple Grandin. AMAZING book. In her own words she tells the story of what it is like to live with autism, as she is among the few people who have broken through many of the neurological impairments associated with autism. Thinking In Pictures also gives information from the front lines of autism, including treatment, medication, and diagnosis, as well as Temple's insights into genius, savants, sensory phenomena, and animal behavior. Ultimately, it is Temple's unique ability to describe the way her visual mind works and how she first made the connection between her impairment and animal temperament that is the basis of her extraordinary gift and phenomenal success. 

My own son has autism, so after reading this book I began to ask him some questions, and it appears that like Temple, Ronin also thinks in pictures. Which isn't totally surprising to me. He has an uncanny ability to recall items with vivid detail. And like Temple, Ronin is also very gifted spatially. I loved this book. And I loved Temple. I've ordered the rest of her published works and will update on those as they arrive and I get through them.

I also started and finished Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling.

 

This book was just okay. It was no Bossypants or Yes Please. I rarely laughed and honestly felt kind of sorry for her. I just didn't really like it. She's about 8 years younger than me, whereas Tina and Amy (yes, I'm on a first name basis with those ladies) are pretty much exactly my age. In fact, my husband and Amy share a birthday, James just happens to be one year older. I think I just identified more with what Tina and Amy had gone through in their life. They both gave a lot of back story, and I don't feel like Mindy really did that. 

Okay, so maybe because I read those other two books first I had such high expectations for this one, but I was left feeling disappointed.

And now I've started another BIG book. The Secret History by Donna Tartt. 

 

I loved The Goldfinch so I decided to give Donna Tartt's introductory novel a try. I'm only on part 2 of 28, so I have a long way to go yet, but I'm intrigued. I can tell I'm going to love it. Her character development is so well done and I can already feel myself getting wrapped up in the life of Richard Pappin. And I'm not alone. You can read The Guardians 10 Reasons why the Secret History is so awesome HERE.

 

And there you have it. What I've read and am reading over the last week. What's currently on your reading list??

Autism and Spatial Intelligence

Does anyone have a special needs child that has gone through neurocognitive testing? My 8yo autistic son is going through some "stuff" right now, and it's just nice to know that I might not be alone.

Yesterday he took a standardized math test that they expected the 3rd graders to fail because it's stuff that they haven't EVER been taught. Well...ONE kid passed, and passed with a high score, and finished in 20 minutes while the rest of the kids took 45 minutes.

Yup, MY kid. The kid that can't get himself dressed properly, that can't hold a pencil or hardly write (he can, it's just LABORIOUS) And while he HATES to read, he also scored at the end of the 3rd grade year in reading, which puts him ahead in that area as well. Not leaps and bounds like in math, but still ahead.

It just so happened that I had scheduled his normal psych appt for TODAY and the doctor wants him tested for Neurocognitive IQ/Achievement. He also recommends an additional behavior specialist through school for extra help and wants him evaluated for occupational therapy for assistance in handwriting skills.

He said if it wasn't for the fact that the boy is just a natural athlete he might think he also had Developmental Coordination Disorder.

But he really thinks his Spatial Intelligence is off the charts.

Honestly this might explain A LOT about Ronin. He LOVES school. LOVES it. Ronin has "atypical autism" he is SUPER friendly, LOVES (most) people, and is a social butterfly. But he LOVES maps. He needs to know WHERE he is AT ALL TIMES.

So we're in this wait and see mode, and I'm just sort of trying to wrap MY head around what all this means for him, and for our family. I'm honestly concerned about the Neurocognitive testing because of the time required to "just sit" as that is an area that Ronin really struggles with.

This is a really interesting article on Aspergers and Spatial Intelligence. And while Ronin doesn't have Aspergers I still found the article interesting. Do I have too much testosterone and passed it on to Ronin?? But I need to do more research.

So...tell me I'm not alone. Have some of you been through this?? Something like this??

And...he's still non-medicated and the doctor wants to keep him that way!

 

 

Top 5 reasons why LEGOLAND FLORIDA is Autism Friendly

Disclosure: The #TampaTrio and I received admission to LEGOLAND Florida and LEGOLAND Florida Water Park for our honest review.

LEGOLAND Florida opened in late 2011. I honestly can't believe that it's taken us nearly 3 years to get up to the park for our first visit. I had heard from friends that it was very babyish and since my kids were used to Busch Gardens that they weren't likely to enjoy LEGOLAND. Well, at 8, 9, and 10 years old, I can tell you without a doubt that they LOVED LEGOLAND!!

Busch Gardens is an autism friendly park. We are provided with a special pass which allows us to either bypass the lines, or we are given a time to return later in the day. Those of you with special needs kids know how challenging navigating a theme park can be.

I wasn't sure if LegoLand Florida offered a special needs pass, but when we arrived I went to guest services and asked, and I'm happy to say that YES they do offer a special needs pass. The pass worked identical to what we're used to experiencing at Busch Gardens, so there were no hidden surprises for us. Whew.

Here are my top five reasons why LegoLand Florida is an Autism friendly theme park.

1. Special Needs Pass. This pass is reserved for individuals with disabilities and allows visitors to obtain a “return time” for rides with long waits. While I always bring a note from Ronin's doctor describing how living with ASD and SPD  makes it hard for him to wait in crowded lines for extended periods of time, the note was not needed. This pass/card is a real “plus” for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Waiting in line with lots of crowds is downright impossible some days. During our day at LEGOLAND, we simply went through the exit gate for rides with our card, received our return time from the ride attendant, and were able to explore around the park until our assigned time. ALL of the  LEGOLAND ride attendants were super accommodating and very nice.

2. Dietary Needs. Unlike Lowry Park Zoo (which we love, so don't get me wrong, but eating there is a challenge) LegoLand allows you to bring in your own food. They also had several gluten free options scattered throughout the park.

3. LEGOS. This one pretty much doesn't need to be stated, but I will. If you have a child that enjoys Legos, then they will enjoy LEGOLAND, autistic or not.

While Ronin enjoys the idea of Lego's, he doesn't have the attention span to put together more than just a few pieces. But he enjoys the final product when his sister's or I do it. So he LOVED seeing all the displays of Lego's. From Chima to Einstein, Ronin was in awe of the marvelous Lego structures.

4. PLAYGROUND. My guy gets easily overwhelmed, so its nice to have a shady spot where he can just play and chill. LEGOLAND had a nice playground area, that was not busy at all, where he could do just that. And he really liked that it said "Wolves Rule" since he just completed his Cub Scout year as a Wolf.

5. WATERPARK. The waterpark admission is NOT included with your regular daily ticket, but I highly recommend it. It gave our family the perfect opportunity to cool down and decompress. The special needs pass is not available in the waterpark, but we didn't need it. Ronin and the girls preferred to lounge about in the lazy river: Build A Raft, and it was nice for me to be able to float along with them. I liked that it was MANDATORY for the kids (well, actually mandatory for everyone!!) to remain in the inner tubes at all times. No running through the lazy river here!!

We spent a full day at LEGOLAND Florida, having been one of the first families through the turnstiles at 10am, and we were one of the last to leave when the park closed at 7pm. There was A LOT that we didn't get to see and do, but we were all so very happy with what we did get to experience.

The kids got to go on every roller coaster, we saw the mini Lego village, Duplo Land (I know I am hacking these names up, but this is what they kids called them, so they are sticking with me!) I wish we had been able to go through the older Cypress Gardens area, but we just didn't have time. I guess we'll have to make a return trip!

Have you been to LEGOLAND Florida?? What did you think??