This story is a wonderful work of fiction about a 15 year old savant mathematically gifted Autistic boy who decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor’s dog and eventually uncovers disturbing information about his parents. The author, Mark Haddon has prevailed at finding his way into the mind of this Autistic character.
Excerpts from the book by Mark Haddon – (2% indicates location in the Kindle version of the book, instead of page numbers).
2% It was 7 minutes after midnight. The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mrs. Shears’ house.
The dog was dead. There was a garden fork sticking out of the dog. I decided that the dog was probably killed with the fork because I could not see any other wounds in the dog and I do not think you would stick a garden fork into a dog after it had died for some other reason…
But, I could not be certain about this. The dog was called Wellington. It belonged to Mrs. Shears, who was our friend. She lived on the opposite side of the road, two houses to the left. Wellington was a large poodle.
My name is Christopher John Francis Boone. I know all the countries of the world and their capital cities and every prime number up to 7,057.
< My Thoughts > Author Mark Haddon tells us that Christopher was NOT a “15 year old savant…” but just very good at Maths.
2% Treffert (2014) tells us that the “Savant syndrome is a rare but spectacular condition in which persons with developmental disabilities, including but not limited to autism, or other central nervous system (CSN) disorders have some spectacular ‘islands of genius’ that stand in jarring juxtaposition to overall limitations.” That “not all savants are autistic, and not all autistic persons are savants.”
3% I pulled the fork out of the dog and lifted him into my arms and hugged him. He was leaking blood from the fork holes.
I like dogs. You always know what a dog is thinking. It had four moods. Happy, sad, cross, and concentrating.
I had been hugging the dog for 4 minutes when I heard screaming. I looked up and saw Mrs. Shears running toward me from the patio.
I do not like people shouting at me. It makes me scared that they are going to hit me or touch me and I do not know what is going to happen.
< My Thoughts > “I do not know what is going to happen.”
Hodgson, et al. (2017) try to understand the child or persons who fear uncertainties due to underlying anxieties which cause ‘repetitive worries’, increasing and arousing worries. They believe that these uncertainties can be reduced by providing opportunities to build the child’s confidence about how to deal cope with unexpected events.
3% “Let go of the dog,” she shouted. I put my hands over my ears and closed my eyes and rolled forward till I was hunched up with my forehead pressed onto the grass. The grass was wet and cold. It was nice.
This is a murder mystery novel. Mostly I read books about science and Maths. I do not like proper novels.
4% But I do like murder mystery novels. So I am writing a murder mystery novel. In a murder mystery novel, someone has to work out who the murderer is and then catch them. It is a puzzle. If it is a good puzzle you can sometimes work out the answer before the end of the book.
I started with the dog. I started with the dog because it happened to me and I find it hard to imagine things which did not happen to me.
< My Thoughts > “I find it hard to imagine things…”
Woodard & Van Reet (2011), in their search for information about imagination and autism, suggest that those with Autism have difficulty in ‘representing the world mentally.’ They have difficulty with object substitution, imagining objects which are not there, or believing an object has specific imaginary properties. They cannot generate spontaneous, complex and varied symbolic play.
In other words, they are saying that without imagination, little ones would not enjoy having tea parties with their teddy bears. Inanimate objects like a toy teapot could not hold or pour tea.
Neither could the inanimate toys join in the fun. They could only partake and sip the tea within the bounds of the child’s active imagination.
4% I wanted to write about something real and I knew people who had died but I did not know people who had been killed.
The police arrived. I like the police. They have uniforms and numbers and you know what they are meant to be doing. There was a policewoman and a policeman.
The police woman put her arms round Mrs. Shears and led her back toward the house. I lifted my head off the grass.
The policeman squatted down beside me and said, “Would you like to tell me what’s going on here, young man?”
I sat up and said, “The dog is dead.”
“How old are you?” he asked. I replied, “I am 15 years and 3 months and 2 days.”
“And what, precisely, were you doing in the garden?” he asked.
“I was holding the dog,” I replied.
“And why were you holding the dog?” he asked.
“I like dogs,” I said.
“Did you kill the dog?” he asked.
I said, “I did not kill the dog.”
“Is this your fork?” he asked.
I said, “No.”
“You seem very upset about this,” he said.
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