“The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night-time” by Mark Haddon


When was the last time you have ever gotten fed up with the media about something? Recently, we have heard about things like the Tiger Woods affair, Obama sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, and the H1N1 virus (the swine flu). The sad fact is the media focuses on just about everything negative that happens. When I turn on the news every day, you expect to hear about which bank in Pittsburgh was robbed, who is cheating on who, and who has gotten arrested. If you watch Fox News, you also notice the people yelling and arguing about political and social issues that are happening in the world. There are also many people in the media who disrespect the private lives of celebrities. When I check out at Wal-Mart, you see all of those celebrity gossip magazines. Those magazines are the reason for why punk rock band Bowling For Soup wrote their song “High School Never Ends”. The social politics of high school still exist in the media. You will always hear about who is having sex, who is arrested for drugs, and who has gotten caught drinking.

As you know, I experience one thing that has always been a very controversial topic in today’s society. It is Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a mild form of Autism. You hear about non-profit organizations like Autism speaks and how they are trying to search for a cure. They still think Autism is a “disease” even though scientists have proved that it is not true. Autism is really a neurological brain disorder. A neurological disorder is a disorder that affects the nervous system. Like all neurological disorders, Autism is not curable and the symptoms are very difficult to treat.

You read my review of John Elder Robison’s “Look Me In The Eye” and my blogs explaining the rules from Temple Grandin’s “Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships”. People don’t understand what Autism really is, and people never will fully understand what it is. These books have given people a better understanding of what Autism is, and they have given people a better understanding of what their Autism means to them. Like I said in the dedication for my book, people will understand your diagnosis more if you think hard about your experiences and write about them. And again, it does not matter whether it ends up being published. That is the main reason I encourage people to write about their life experiences.

One particular story that helped me understand my diagnosis even more is Mark Haddon’s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Nighttime”. The book is an “autistic account” of the Sherlock Holmes murder mysteries. The case he is investigating is the death of his neighbor’s dog Wellington, who belongs to Mrs. Shears, a woman who lives across the street from him. He found a fork impaled in Wellington’s body. His parents are a working class type of couple, and they don’t have the patience or the education to understand his diagnosis.When the police came to investigate the situation, Christopher hit a police officer because he touched him because he was trying to help him stand up. As  result of that, he was sentenced to a night in jail. Christopher John Francis Boone is a teenage autistic boy from Europe. He is a teenager with an above average IQ who knows all the worlds countries and their capitals. He also knows every single prime number up to 7,057. Because of his quirks and his parents not understand his diagnosis, he has been through some extremely difficult times as a teenager. I have been through many similar situations in my life, so I can relate to Christopher in many ways.

Because of his above average intelligence and his odd interests, he has experienced quite a bit of discrimination throughout the book. In my memoir, I am going to touch on some of the false things the media says about Autism. Like I said in the beginning of this blog, the media often thinks that Autism is a death sentence and a disease that “somehow” will be cured. People believe what the media says, no matter what the issue is. Because of the ignorant things the media says, people believe it. There are numerous parts of the book that people have discriminated Christopher. Because of how people thought he was “socially hopeless”, they have told him that he would only be capable of getting a job “collecting super market trolleys” or “scooping donkey shit at an animal sanctuary”. Christopher was told this by a boy named Terry, who was apparently jealous of Chris because of his above average intelligence and cleverness. Terry would call him named like “spaz” and would say “they don’t let spazzers drive rockets that cost billions of pounds”. Terry thought he was “spastic”.

I have been through similar experiences, and I have seen other kids on the spectrum go through the same thing. One students shared a particular experience at Computing Workshop, the summer camp program I work at. We had a staff member who told a story about one of his former computer teachers in high school. This particular teacher didn’t like the fact that this student had a difficulty with spelling. In the class, the students would often do activities that involved researching things on the Internet. This particular student really enjoyed researching things on the Internet, and he was very gifted at it. He wanted to participate in the activities, but the teacher wouldn’t let him. One day he asked if if he would participate, the teacher then snapped and said “You will not participate in the Internet research activity until you can spell perfectly”. Instead, the teacher would have the student correct all of the spelling mistakes he made on all of the previous projects they participated in. The teacher was punishing him for his difficulty spelling words correctly.

Kids with Asperger’s Syndrome often have difficulty understanding humor, idioms and sarcasm. At the beginning of the book, Christopher quotes “This will not be a funny book. I cannot tell jokes because I do not understand them”. One thing about humor and sarcasm that can be risky for kids like me is we have a difficulty understanding whether or not someone is being serious versus being sarcastic. I have been through many situations where people have tricked me into thinking they were just merely trying to be friends with me, but they were really trying to belittle me and set me up. Throughout my years in school, there was one particular kid that seemed to realize that I didn’t understand whether someone was really my friend or not. They would walk up to me in a very friendly and polite manner, then I turned around and they would say something really rude and disrespectful to me. I didn’t understand the social rule “Not Everyone Who Is Nice To Me Is My Friend”. In elementary school, this kid tried to convince me into saying something inappropriate to a teacher, he thought it would be funny for me to get into trouble. I went with his “advice” and I recieved lunch detention for a whole week. During my freshman year of high school, this person tried to pull off another stunt like that, but this time I ignored him. I wasn’t going to fall for his tricks this time.Teenagers often playfully joke around with each other, it is their way of bonding with their friends. There have been instances where people have told me jokes, and I took it the wrong way and thought they were really trying to “badly tease” me. Playfully joking around is “good teasing” and bullying and harassing is “bad teasing”. When the kid in elementary school convinced me into saying that inappropriate joke to the teacher, I made the mistake of thinking he was playing around with me when he really was trying to bully me. I don’t like it when people I barely know use sarcastic humor around me because it will make me think they are trying to belittle me. I am afraid I will take the joke the wrong way by saying it to someone else and getting into trouble, or being offended by it and overreacting. I will use humor around people I know well, not people I barely know.

In this blog, I just wanted to give people a general description of the book. If you want to find out more about the book, I would recommend reading it. This book is great for anybody who enjoys murder mysteries, and it is great for anybody who wants to understand the Autistic brain. On the bottom of the page, I have provided a link to the book and an unabridged audio version of the story.

Book:

http://www.amazon.com/Curious-Incident-Night-Time-Today-Show/dp/0385512104

Unabridged Audio book:

http://www.amazon.com/Curious-Incident-Dog-Night-time/dp/1402568851

The 10 myths about Autism: (Wrongplanet.net)

http://www.wrongplanet.net/article361.html

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4 thoughts on ““The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night-time” by Mark Haddon

  1. There are ways to research things on the Internet which don’t require perfect spelling, happily for me (and for the Computer Workshop colleague/staff member). They don’t even require an ability to read.

    I make frequent use of the visual and semantic web, and many versions of Firefox (since about 3.5) are helpful when they have a big memory for sites I have typed into in the past.

    (Computers are a lot more flexible in this fashion than they were 20 years ago, or even 5 years ago!)

    I have probably experienced more politics in the media than in high school, and, yes, it is the same or similar dynamic.

    Now about Curious Incident. I forgot that Christopher knew something about geography. I thought he was a maths and physics man (though in the book, we see so much more than this). Might send you my reflective journal, made in mid-2005 about the book. Or extracts thereof.

    (Didn’t Tony Atwood say that NASA is the biggest sheltered workshop? I do wonder about the British space programme.)

  2. I read that book several years ago and I remember that I liked it so well that I recommended it to the elementary principal I was working for at the time. Sadly, though I gave him a copy, he never read it! I think maybe he’s not much of a reader, however. That’s doubly sad I think. I believe the types of books such as “Curious Incident…” and “Look Me…” are very helpful in guiding the general reading population into understanding what autism/Asperger’s is all about.

  3. I’m on the same mission as you are and your doing a wonderful job of useing the blog for this importent cause.
    I go around and speak at schools or wherever and try to do the same awareness.
    Wherever I’m called to.
    Autism myth slashing is my specialty by shareing my personal experince as it was and is speaking at schools and Ot trainings or wherever they want me.
    I have an irratation with the media and the cure me anti vaccine histeria.
    There’s a good book called “False prophets” about autism cure now nonsense.
    I found the book in my librairy that is the first honest book I have read about this media arrogance and danger.
    It bugs me how they talk about Autism but never ask the people themselves how they feel about it.
    This Emotional life on PBS did a good job which is a great start but needs more out there.
    The mainstream common media {except in rare cases like above or AANE}.
    The general media goes stright to the Jen Mccarthy cure or enviormentalists get excited about pollutants, pulling Aspergers/Autism into it.
    I agree about taking care of the enviorment and enviormentalism but implying I’m just a mutant or accident of manmade matrials with no purpose.
    Just to be used to push an enviormentalists arguement crosses the line true or false.
    Not to mention the Cure Now people with a celebrity Jenny Mcarthy backing them up.
    I have been disapointed many times in the media when they miss something.
    That’s why I spoke on the radio to make people aware from the heart what it feels like thru my eyes and how I see things in my brain being thrown at me.
    Also in the newspaper I was interviewed because I complained about the same thing as well years ago.
    That’s why being an Aspergers Autisim activist such as your blog and my speaking is so importent, because a panic driven mob who isn’t rational, doesn’t need to happen.
    Here’s my radio interview
    http://www.portsmouthcommunityradio.com look under audio archives in the the index under January 12th.
    Sometimes it only seems like death, only awakes the media and some awareness which is annoying! Like in the recent bullying suicide cases when there was time to understand it long before it happened.
    The Aspergers/Autism thing has nothing to do with that comparision I said a sentence before, this one it was the media I was talking about.
    But the good news, it all the more drives me like it does you. Doing these wonderful posts about Aspergers Syndrome that cuts to the truth.
    Keep up the helpful work and discussions. I wish these blog openended questions was talked amonst Aspergers groups more often.
    I would go if they did.

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