Friday, May 11, 2012

the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by mark haddon

this book has been on my to-read list for quite some time. the story is not really important; this book is really about perspective. it's told entirely from the point of view of a young autistic boy. 

i found several things particularly interesting:

- he talks about lying. he never lies. he explains that he doesn't lie because he can't figure out what to say. only one thing is the truth (i broke the lamp) while there are endless possibilities for the lie (the dog/aliens/robbers/etc. broke the lamp). he can't arbitrarily pick a non-truth. he becomes overwhelmed by the possibilities. 

- he talks about why he dislikes changes to his surroundings. it's not about familiarity and stability, but rather, he sees so much more than the normal person. he sees EVERYTHING. he easily becomes overwhelmed by external stimulus which renders him confused and unable to concentrate on specific things. when his environment is unchanged, it is easier for him to focus his attention on tasks or conversations, etc.

- talks about his problems with understanding people. it confuses him when people use phrases or colloquialisms like "i'm so hungry i could eat a horse," because you actually couldn't eat a horse. your stomach would explode if you sat down and ate a horse, etc.  he is also confused by non-specific instructions. he cannot follow the instruction "be quiet" because it is infinite, and he cannot possibly be expected to be quiet forever. he needs to be told "be quiet for 5 minutes" or some determinate amount of time.

- the logic he follows to come to conclusions is so absolute. once he has come to a conclusion or made a decision, it is almost impossible for him to accept another possibility.

with autism becoming more and more prevalent in society, i appreciated the opportunity to gain some understanding and perspective.

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