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This was another book that I decided to listen to during my drive time versus physically read. I am SO glad I decided on this version. I have to give mad props to the narrator, Jeff Woodman, because he was amazing with this book. Listening to him just gave me so much more perspective and understanding than I would have garnered myself if I had just read it.
Yes, the plot of this book loosely revolves around a dog, but it is so much more. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime is about an autistic teenager navigating his way through difficult adult situations and trying to make sense of it all.
I am truthfully pretty ignorant about autism, I am ashamed to say. But I felt like this book gave me some insight into how those with autism think and why they struggle in social situations so much. Coincidentally, this article from a mother with an autistic child came up on Freshly Pressed right around the time I was listening to this book, and I really think it’s worth reading.
It was interesting to hear how Christopher rationalized things in his mind, seemingly in a VERY logical manner. It makes you realize how completely illogical we can all be on a regular basis. I also found the explanation of the groaning, rocking, etc. often done by autistic children in stressful situations interesting. Haddon describes it as a way of “shutting down,” in that there is too much going on for the child to process and so he must zone it all out.
While I was floored at the things Christopher was able to do on his own once he set his mind on a particular path, it also gave me hope. It showed me that autistic people really can navigate our world, they just have to go about it a different way.
And with that statement, I’ll throw out a testy idea that I’d love comments on. Who are we to say what is the “normal” way of doing things? I know many are grasping at any bit of knowledge out there as to what “causes” autism, why autism is on the rise, and what we can do to “combat” autism. But it has also been suggested that autism could very well be the next step in the evolutionary chain, and we don’t even realize it. Truth be told, with my limited knowledge, I’m not about to dismiss that idea, and I think we need to stop looking at autism as a “disease.” Diseases make people sick and/or cause death. Being autistic isn’t a disease, it just means they don’t fit our stereotype of what’s considered normal.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to gain some understanding on autistic people, and in particular I would recommend the audiobook for really embracing the autistic child’s perspective.
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“Books to the ceiling, Books to the sky, My pile of books is a mile high. How I love them! How I need them! I'll have a long beard by the time I read them.” - Arnold Lobel
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