What's On Your Nightstand

I’m posting this a day early since tomorrow is Christmas Day (and my birthday). I hope all of you who celebrate the birth of the Savior will be blessed with a wonderful holiday.

Just fiction this month, and primarily for escape value, but here’s what I’ve finished since my last nightstand post:

On my nightstand right now, besides a few random reads from the library, is House Rules by Jodi Picoult. I have heard mixed reviews about both the quality of the writing and the content itself, so might have passed on it myself. However, a friend and I are starting a book club centered on titles that have central characters or themes with autism/Aspergers, and she picked this book as our first selection. It should make for an interesting discussion, at least!

So, what are you currently reading?

To read more posts or join in yourself, visit What’s On Your Nightstand? at 5 Minutes for Books.

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Wow, where did the fall go? Between getting to know a new team at my son’s school and having a class of six new trainees at work, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind. As you read this, my mom has arrived for a week-long visit, so the holidays will be quite full for us this year as well!

The end of fall also means it is time to update you on my progress with the Fall Into Reading challenge hosted by Katrina over at Callapidder Days.

Here’s my original list, marked up with my progress:

Committed to review by the end of October (and after that, I’m taking a break from it for the rest of the year):
Be Still My Soul by Joanne Bishop – READ AND REVIEWED
The Lost Prince by Selden Edwards – DID NOT READ. I DIDN’T REALIZE IT WAS A SEQUEL UNTIL I STARTED READING IT AND THAT KIND OF PUT ME OFF.
Life With Lily by Mary Ann Kinsinger & Suzanne Woods Fisher – READ AND REVIEWED
Stardust by Neil Gaiman – DID NOT READ. THE BOOK NEVER ARRIVED AND I HAVEN’T GOTTEN AROUND TO CHECKING IT OUT OF THE LIBRARY YET.
What the Zhang Boys Know by Clifford Garstang – READ AND REVIEWED
You Don’t Know Me by Susan May Warren = READ AND REVIEWED

Non-Fiction that has been sitting on my bookshelf (most of them for a very long time!):
Blazing My Trail by Rachel B. Cohen-Rottenberg – STILL SITTING ON BOOKSHELF
From Anxiety to Meltdown by Deborah Lipsky – STILL SITTING ON BOOKSHELF
Asperger’s on the Job by Rudy Simone – READ AND REVIEWED
Pretending to Be Normal by Liane Holliday Willey – STILL SITTING ON BOOKSHELF
How We Love Our Kids by Milan & Kay Yerkovich – STILL SITTING ON BOOKSHELF
Beautiful One, edited by Shae Cooke – STILL SITTING ON BOOKSHELF

***Yeah, I know this is pathetic. I have a very bad track record with non-fiction. I honestly think I will enjoy all of these books, but when I reach for a book at the end of the day, it almost always ends up being fiction. Oh well!

Fiction from my TBR list (dependent on what I can find at the library):
Downfall by Terri Blackstock – READ
River’s Song by Melody Carlson- READ
Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen – READ
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – JUST GOT FROM LIBRARY HOLD AND PLAN TO READ BY END OF YEAR
The Red House by Mark Haddon – DNF
Loving by Karen Kingsbury – READ
Insurgent by Veronica Roth – READ
Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos – READ
The Song Remains the Same by Allison Winn Scotch – READ
The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon – STILL NEED TO GET FROM LIBRARY
The Other Family by Joanna Trollope – READ
The Choice by Robert Whitlow – READ

So, 14 read out of 24 – at least it’s more than half, right? I did read more books than this over the course of the fall, but I managed to stay pretty focused on the list most of the time.

How about you? What have you been reading this fall? And what do you plan to curl up with over the winter?

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What's On Your Nightstand

Can you believe we are only a month away from the end of 2012? So much has changed in my life this year, and yet it seems to have gone so fast. I hope that doesn’t just mean that I’m getting old!

I am taking a bit of a break from 5 Minutes for Books, so I only have one review published there in the last month: What the Zhang Boys Know: A Novel in Stories, which is an intriguing collection by Clifford Garstang. A bit gritty in the middle, but good overall.

I have also spent some time catching up on the titles I had received from Future Horizons, which could all be very good additions to a special needs toolbox. Here are the links to my reviews:

  • This is Gabriel Making Sense of School by Hartley Steiner is a fun and informative children’s book about sensory processing disorder.
  • In-Sync Activity Cards by Joye Newman and Carol Kranowitz is a great new set of activity cards with customizable sensory activities.
  • A QUEST for Social Skills by JoEllen Cumpata and Susan Fell is a ready-to-use curriculum for social skills instruction aimed at the middle school level (although I think it could be used quite successfully with upper elementary and even with high schoolers as well).

I have been doing a lot of reading lately, many of which are from my Fall Into Reading list and/or my TBR list. The titles below are linked to Goodreads, and I have listed how many stars I would give each one in lieu of a review:

I did not finish, and in fact barely even started, The Red Door by Mark Haddon. As much as I loved The Curious Incident, I could not get past even the first chapter of this book. I felt like a pinball in a really bad arcade game, what will all the quick shifts and sentence fragments. I got a bit farther into Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce, but stopped after I found myself skimming through entire chapters in search of something to move the story along a bit faster.

I have a lot of books still on my pile to read, but I’m not really sure which I’m going to read next. My priorities right now are to spend some time in Job preparing for my small group and to keep up with my Divorce Care homework so I can get the most out of the last few sessions as possible.

I’m curious – what was your favorite read this past month?

To read more posts or join in yourself, visit What’s On Your Nightstand? at 5 Minutes for Books.

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A Quest for Social Skills for Students with Autism or Asperger’s: Ready-to-use lessons with games, role-play activities, and more!
by JoEllen Cumpata and Susan Fell
Future Horizons, 2010

About the Book

Why start a social skills program?
The question is not why, but why not?

With inclusive education becoming the norm in schools nationwide, teachers often struggle to address students’ non-academic needs—but teachers need ready-to-use lessons that won’t interfere with their curriculum.

QUEST (Questioning, Understanding, and Exploring Social Skills and Pragmatic Language Together) is a social skills program created to help middle school students with ASD who struggle with pragmatic language and social skills.

Developed by a school social worker and speech language pathologist, the program uses an intensive, proactive approach to teaching social skills, combining written instruction with games, activities, and student interaction.

Six helpful units—School Survival Basics, Understanding and Managing Emotion, Communication Skills, Making Friends and Interacting with Peers, Personal Safety, Vocational Readiness—can be implemented either chronologically or on their own. Evidence-based research supports the methods used and students have a great time learning-by-doing, through role-play and real-world experience. Parents are kept in the loop with email updates and evaluations. Everyone wins with this program!

Best of all, the book includes a CD of printable worksheets, letters, forms, and more!

QUEST covers: Greetings, Paying Attention, Daily Hygiene, Asking for Help, Understanding Feelings, Getting Angry/Calming Down, Managing Stress, Starting a Conversation, Making and Keeping Friends, Gossip, Bullying, and Teasing, Resisting Peer Pressure, Dating, Internet and E-mail Safety, and many more!

My Thoughts:
I am extremely impressed with this book. The lessons seem perfectly suited to the upper elementary and older students, which is where my son is now. With his moving into fourth grade this year and to a school with a more established social skills program, he has actually begun receiving group instruction on a regular basis, through a combination of push-ins during group work in science and social studies to lunch bunches and other small group activities. I can see the lessons in this book tying in very easily with what the SLP is doing, as well as being age-appropriate for the kids.

The manual is divided into several topical sections:

  • The school survival section has many of the things we are trying to instill in my son right now, from paying attention and asking for help to organizing his workspace and using an assignment book. Plus there’s even a lesson on daily hygiene, which is quickly becoming more important at our house!
  • The sections on understanding emotions, communication skills, and making friends are all topics that he has been working on for years, but these lessons seem to provide a fresh approach to use within a structured classroom setting that also emphasized practical application of the skills.
  • The personal safety and vocational readiness skills seem most appropriate for middle school and high school, students, although some of the information is more and more needed by younger students as kids may still encounter bullying and gossip, as well as be socializing online at an earlier age than the previous generation.

The book also includes a CD with PDF files of all the necessary printables for the lessons, making it as easy as possible to prepare and implement the program. I am excited about being to share this with my son’s SLP and hope that she will find it to be as useful as I think it will be!

Discount Opportunity: If you order A QUEST for Social Skills directly from Future Horizons, you can use the code INTERRUPTED to receive 15% off and free shipping in the continental US.

Note: I received a review copy for free, but all opinions are my own. I am an affiliate of Future Horizons and receive a small amount of compensation for any sales made using the promotional code provided. You can use the code INTERRUPTED when ordering books or other materials – or even conference registrations – to receive 15% off plus free shipping in the continental US.

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In-Sync Activity Cards: 50 Simple, New Activities to Help Children Develop, Learn and Grow!
by Joye Newman, MA, and Carol Kranowitz, MA
Sensory World, 2012

About the Set
These two experienced authors have over seventy combined years of teaching experience and have learned the best ways to help children learn and grow using their motor development skills. Now parents can tap that experience and genius, using these handy cards to help their kids grow, learn, and develop to the best of their abilities!

Divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced activities, each card tells you why and how the activity works, what you need for it, and ways to make it more challenging. It also tells you what to look for, to make sure your child is getting the most out of the activity.

My Thoughts:
I was very excited to get this set for review, especially since I have been so pleased with an earlier set from the same publisher, called Move-About Activity Cards (linked to my review). I have found them to be very useful with my son, and the school team really likes using them during his sensory breaks.

This set is much more detailed and seems like it would have a lot of different applications, from sensory and movement needs, to development of motor planning and imitation, as well as direction-following skills.

The cards have great illustrations and are color-coded by skill level, plus each one includes ideas for how to make it a bit harder, which makes it very easy to customize for individual abilities and interests. They also include clear instructions regarding what materials you need and what you have to do to set up the activity, which is extremely helpful when planning which ones are workable given your resources at that time.

For my own child, I could see these cards being useful for his sensory breaks or even to work on turn-taking (i.e. allowing someone else to be in charge) in a peer group without the competitive stressors involved in playing a game. Although he is 10 and starting the preteen phase of his development, I still believe he would be drawn to the novelty of the cards and the imaginative activities.

Discount Opportunity: If you order In-Sync Activity Cards directly from Future Horizons, you can use the code INTERRUPTED to receive 15% off and free shipping in the continental US.

Note: I received a review copy of this set for free, but all opinions are my own. I am an affiliate of Future Horizons and receive a small amount of compensation for any sales made using the promotional code provided. You can use the code INTERRUPTED when ordering books or other materials – or even conference registrations – to receive 15% off plus free shipping in the continental US.

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