Autism According to “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” Mark Haddon
Autism has been introduced to the reader through the life of Christopher a 15 year old teenager who is autistic. The activities that follow after Christopher’s discovery of Wellington’s death, leads to a series of events that are initiated by Christopher in order to understand the cause of the death. Through interaction with different people, Christopher’s autistic nature is brought into context. The behavior introduced by Christopher gives the different tendencies shown by autistic children in comparison with other children
The topic of autism is firstly dealt in Christopher’s lack of understanding on why many people including his father behave in the manner that they do. Although initially his father had made him believe that his mother was dead, Christopher’s reaction to this ‘death’ was a complete different picture from the expected reaction (Haddon 66). He did not feel any emotion towards this loss. These emotional downturns are also seen in his dislike for common friendly hugs and show of feeling. Although it would be common for every teenager to tolerate colors even if they do not constitute their favorite colors, Christopher completely hates brown and yellow.
The topic of autism is further dealt in the story whereby Christopher is completely unable to understand the relationship between people and the rationale behind their behavior. Although lying is an easy task to any person, Christopher wholly fails to understand why and how a human being can lie to another. Throughout the novel, he wonders why people commit negative actions towards others. This belief is the main reason for his strong reaction when ‘evils’ are committed towards animals and human beings. This explains his powerful feeling of hate towards his father after realizing that his mother is not dead as he had made him believe. This feeling gets a toll on his health to the extent of him vomiting, and suffering strong pains throughout the day.
The effects of autism transform Christopher into a real time Sherlock Holmes who coincidentally is his favorite author. It is surprising that Christopher has already read numerous series involving Sherlock Holmes, the famous detective. This pushes him to adopt strategies learnt from Holmes stories in order to solve Wellington’s death. This is a culmination of his desire to live a different life from that shared by his father and all other residents of the town. This complexity in understanding common human nature is seen by his difficulty in understanding simple statements which may appear direct to the many people. When Christopher solves a mathematical problem, he finds it hard to answer a simple question concerning his answer. “I mean what trick you used” is a complex statement for him since he is wondering how his answer can be attributed to use of untruthful methods of solving the mathematical paradox (Haddon 44). However in spite of his difficulties in understanding human emotions, he is largely endowed with mathematical capabilities that make him appear a genius among his peers. He gives the explanation on the Monty Haul problem, reasons for common population bursts, and a completely exciting introduction on the complex issue of the Conway soldiers.
This novel is great source of information which is important in understanding and explaining the common tendencies of autistics. Although in the past there has been a problem in understanding the common behaviors that create a differential line felt by many autistics and proposed by many autistic organizations, the writer revisits the issue from the Christopher’s personal view to help understand their emotions. Christopher’s narration helps in understanding the mysterious events that remain complex to many people. It highly boosts the understanding on the different degrees of interaction of autistics within the rest of the world and their use of language and communication in passing their likes and dislikes.
Autism is highly variable since it is characterized by periodic regressions that make it hard for many people to understand autism. According to the New York Times, it is largely hard for a person to understand what makes things better or worse in many autistic persons when faced by different situations (Brody 1). This can be used to understand Christopher’s tendencies in relating well with his father while on the hand, he adopts complete hatred when he realizes about the past deeds hidden from him. It also explains his obsessions with detective tasks, novels and his reaction to Wellington’s death. According to Dr Schrebman, autistics will always be critical and maintain careful records which may include mathematical paradoxes in order to achieve their high mental mobility. This is the main reason for their retreat into cocoons which inhibit sudden reactions when subjected to human emotion tendencies like touch and hug.
The reality of autism is reflected by its definition by the Mayo Clinic staff that attributes it to their underdeveloped interpersonal communication and interaction skills. Its prevalence has lately risen to great levels with different medical research showing its spread due to lack of early detection patterns. This explains the cases of autism in many teenage populations in Europe and America. Christopher pursuit of his cause which includes Wellington’s death and the truth behind his mother’s disappearance reveals the environmental and social patterns that affect autism. This makes it known to the common person that better detection can be used to reduce the tendency of the condition to change the social and interactive behaviors of autistics. This is shared by the Mayo clinic experts that early treatment can make a big difference in the lives of many children with the disorder (Mayo Clinic staff). The author therefore gives an important introduction that sheds light to autism and the behaviors that characterize it. On the other hand the secondary sources in the New York Times and the Mayo website articles gives a medical position that is important in consolidating the information learnt from “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”.
Brody, Jane. Trying Anything and Everything for Autism. New York Times. 19 January. 2009.Web. 23 Oct. 2010.<http://www.nytimes.com
Haddon, Mark. “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” Toronto: Seal Books, 2008. Print.
Mayo Clinic Staff, Autism: Definition. 27 May. 2010. Web. 23Oct. 2010. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/autism/DS00348>.