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3500: An Autistic Boy's Ten-Year Romance with Snow White Paperback – February 11, 2013
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
About the Author
Ron Miles is the proud father of an autistic son, a software architect, and a musician. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Ron moved (along with his ex-wife, son, and then-fiancé) to Central Florida in the summer of 2003 in order to use Walt Disney World as a giant therapy session for his son. He blogs about his son and other autism-related issues at shmoolok.com. He also runs a website dedicated to post-apocalyptic fiction at www.JamesAxler.com, as well at least a dozen other websites. In his day job he works from a home office and writes the software that drives the Conferences & Events department of a luxury travel company. He dreams of the day when he will finally be able to have a real conversation his son, if only to find out what his son has really been thinking about all these years.
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Top customer reviews
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The stories of each milestone on the ride (1,000, 2,000, etc.) were heartwarming, not just as examples of how nicely Disney treats their guests, but how simple gestures can touch the lives of us all.
"3500" is a fascinating book, one that not only recounts a family's struggles with their son's condition and the triumph and heartbreak that come with said struggles, but provides some fascinating insights about Disney World itself.
"3500" follows the life of Benjamin Miles, a profoundly autistic boy who is dearly loved by his parents, and who despite a divorce early on in his childhood work together to raise him as much as they can. When they discover how much he loves Disney movies, they decide to take him on a vacation to Disney World to see if that draws him out of his shell at all. To their amazement, Benjamin falls in love with one ride in particular -- Snow White's Scary Adventures -- and demands to ride it again and again. His parents make the decision to move from Seattle to Florida to be closer to the park, and as Benjamin racks up rides on Snow White's ride, he draws the attention of Disney World's park workers as well as Disney fans around the world. And as word spreads that the ride is due to be shut down, both park and fans plan something very special for his final ride...
Some readers have complained that this book reads more like a Disney World advertisement than an actual memoir, but I actually enjoyed the Disney World facts presented in this book. Many autistic children (and adults) define themselves at least partly by whatever their current fixation or obsession is, and seeing as Benjamin is so enamored by Disney in general and Snow White in particular, it's only natural that the book would go into some amount of detail about the things he loves. Plus, as someone who hasn't had the chance to attend any of the Disney parks except Wild Animal Kingdom, I appreciated the extra details, and the description of rides and attractions I wasn't familiar with.
Ron Miles makes it clear from the beginning that Disney World did not "cure" his son, and that he will probably need supervision and care all his life. But it's fascinating to see how something as unusual as a Disney princess can help draw an autistic boy out of his shell, and I enjoyed reading about Benjamin's development and progress as the book goes by. And the book doesn't focus solely on his relationship with Disney, but talks about the importance of a good school system and dedicated parents in raising a child with autism. There are a few medical segments regarding Benjamin's physical health as well as mental health, and some of these can be a bit stomach-turning, but the author does warn the reader ahead of time regarding said segments, at least...
"3500" is a powerful and heartfelt memoir, and if you're a fan of Disney and/or are interested in a memoir about coping with autism, you won't be disappointed by this book. It's a fascinating and heartwarming account of a boy's love of Disney (even if I think the "romance" in the title is a bit of a misnomer) and how it contributed to his progress.
afford him a stable environmennt. Times were difficult caring for Benjsmin's expenses while providing for their living expenses, moving to various locations to benefit Ben's growth and development, working with excellent caregivers, mainly through Ben's love of Disney characters and music. Constant attention was needed to provide for his safety. Never was he left unguarded, always with loving endurance. Reading this biography proved a learning experience for me, leaving me in awe of their devoted parenting. I highly recommend this learning experience, especially for those who must provide constant special needs parenting. CLB
"I knew right down to my core that Walt Disney World was the single biggest piece of magic that had ever entered Ben's life," writes Ron, and although Ben hasn't become a normally-functioning adult (he's now in his early 20s), Disney has brought him joy. I was so impressed by his parents and the lengths they went to to help their son meet his potential and be happy. I also was impressed by how difficult it would be to live with an autistic child -- constant repetitive routines, extreme upset when those routines are interrupted, etc. Pretty much anything Ben wanted to do, his parents would do.
I found this book touching and really enjoyed it (and as to the title's significance: Ben rode the Snow White ride 3500 times before it was closed in 2012). It was kind of like re-visiting Disney World, as frequent mention was made of various attractions at the park.
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understanding of children with it trying to be part of society