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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Curious Incident

After not knowing much about Autism or Asperger’s Disorder I was very intrigued to read this book. After reading the first few pages of it I was entranced by the unusual writing style. At moments during my read I had to close the book and flip it to the back cover to read the back to try to make sense of what this novel was about, or why it was written the way it was. I even had to ask a few of my peers about the book. Some of them work at Crotchet Mountain and were able to give a little more incite into an autistic child’s point of view.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about Autism or anyone just looking for a very unique book to read. Haddon tells a story about a young child named Christopher Boone who is Autistic and goes to a special school. His primary teacher is Siobhan. The book starts off with Christopher, finding Mrs. Shears’ dog Wellington, speared dead with a pitch fork. The police are called and he accidentally assaults an officer because he touches him. A few years earlier Christopher is told by his father that his mother was sick and had to go to the hospital. He is not permitted to see her and then is told by his father that she died of a heart attack. So Christopher has been lied to for a few years now believing his mother is dead. In reality Christopher’s mother is struggling with dealing with all of his special needs and feels alone and finds companionship with Mr. Shears, the neighbor and they both leave their spouses. Christopher then happens across a bunch of letters that his mother has been writing to him that have been kept secret by his father. Christopher then runs away to London where his mother is living and eventually Chris and his mother leave Mr. Shears and return home but they must live in another house. Obviously there is a lot of mistrust between Chris and his father but by the end of the book he tries to reconcile by giving him a puppy and apologizing profusely to Christopher to try to regain his trust.

I really like how Haddon included pictures of all the thoughts that Christopher had in his head.
I would have to argue that a lot of the things that Haddon describes for symptoms of Christopher seem to fit into the whole Autism diagnosis. One of the key lines that stuck out was when he mentioned that when the teacher had the smarties candy and she asked Christopher what was in it and he said candy and it was really a pen and then she asked him if she showed it to his parents what would be in there and he said they would say pen. That is definitely a sign of autism because children that have this often believe that whatever they know everyone else knows. I thought that feelings of not wanting to be touched were a sure sign of this diagnosis as well. I remember in the novel that they had a special kind of hand touch that meant I love you. Another thing that stood out was that fact that Christopher had to make maps of new places or if something was changed in a room he would notice the littlest details. I like how Haddon said his mind was like a DVD player where he could rewind, fast forward or stop at any point in his memory and remember every little detail about a certain event.

I believe that Haddon did justice to the characters because he gave a lot of prime examples of the way that children behave with this type of disease. I mean obviously its hard raising a child with a developmental disorder and I think that is why he included the mother running off with another an or how she said she felt like the father and Christopher had a bond and she did not belong. He described his teacher Siobhan as very patient and understanding and explaining things in depth. One thing that I did not like about the book was that I thought that the whole overall story of Christopher’s journey to figure out that his mother was still alive and to be able to comprehend and to travel to London was a little far fetched. But, he did give a really good description of how he had to work out a system for the trains in London after watching others. I feel that most of the characters were sympathetic to a degree but obviously raising a child like this can be very difficult and can be a huge strain on a family unit. But Haddon even mentions how Mr. Shears got drunk and started yelling at Christopher. I would have to agree that Haddon gave me another point of view on how to deal with children or even adults with disorders like this, it seems like the key is explaining things more thoroughly and more in depth because they can’t seem to comprehend the simple things but may be able to do complex things such as advanced Math
In sum, I really enjoyed this book and read it in almost one sitting which is very unusual for me so I really liked reading this book and would be interested in reading his other novels if they are in the similar style with a child with autism.

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