Novels Depiction of Asperger’s Syndrome The story The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, written by Mark Haddon, is a story about a young boy with growth from childhood into adulthood. It is about a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome, named Christopher, who goes on a journey to find his long lost mother and matures a lot along the way. The disorder that Christopher has is called Asperger’s Syndrome, which is very similar to Autism. Throughout the novel, the reader begins to have a good understanding of this rare disorder. Christopher displays many characteristics that are associated with Asperger’s Syndrome.
One of the major problems that people with Asperger’s Syndrome display is their inability to comprehend other people’s emotion. People with Asperger’s have difficulty understanding when others are sad, angry, depressed, happy or any other emotions. This inability to understand others emotions are shown a lot throughout the story. An example of Christopher’s lack of understanding for human emotions is simply based on the fact that Christopher tries to learn about emotions with Siobhan. Siobhan would draw faces that would display an emotion and Christopher would have to guess at what emotion is being shown (2-3).
The fact that Christopher struggles with knowing the meaning of some of these faces shows just how difficult it is for him to understand emotions. He even goes on to say how he would carry these pictures with him so he could take them out and match the picture with what face the person is making. This shows that it is very difficult for Christopher to understand these emotions in a real-life situation and not just in the classroom. This is very common for people with Asperger’s. They can have an understanding of emotions by learning about them, but they struggle with applying this knowledge to real-life situations.
Another common problem that many people with Asperger’s face is clumsiness of social interaction. They tend to have a hard time communicating well with others. This is usually because people with Asperger’s tend to be shy, only willing to talk about a certain topic of interest to them with disregard for the other person’s interest, failure to enjoy spontaneous interests, impaired nonverbal behaviors, and an unwillingness to listen to the other person talking. They tend to feel disconnected from the social world because of their difficulty with social interaction.
Throughout this novel there are many instances of Christopher’s struggles with good social interaction. An example of Christopher’s poor social interaction can be found when he knocks on Mr. Thompson’s door looking for information about who killed Wellington. As soon as Mr. Thompson opens the door, Christopher asks “Do you know who killed Wellington. ” He asked this question without making any eye-contact. Christopher then goes on to say, “I do not like looking at people faces, especially if they are strangers (36). ” This scene shows how uneasy Christopher is in social situations with strangers.
It is typical for people with Asperger’s to not give direct eye contact or not even look at the person talking. Another interesting aspect of this scene is how Christopher immediately asks if Mr. Thompson knows about what happened to Wellington. He didn’t even attempt to introduce himself; he just went straight to the point. This shows the awkwardness of Christopher’s social interaction with strangers. People with Asperger’s Syndrome also have a tendency to focus exclusively on a single topic. They have a very specific narrow area of interest to them. It can be anything from different types of camera models to astronomy.
Since they spend so much time on these specific topics, people with Asperger’s can acquire tons of information on these topics. This was also the case with Christopher who took a very keen interest in mathematics. There are many instances in which Christopher’s intense interest in mathematics and logic is shown throughout this book. One instance of this is when Christopher ran away from his father and was on his way to meet his mother in London. He felt like he needed to clear out his head so he did a math problem called Conway’s Soldiers in his head (146-147).
This appears to be a very difficult and complex problem and Christopher does it all in his head. In order for Christopher to attempt a problem like this in his head, he would have to eliminate all distractions and be completely focused on the problem. This ability to stay completely focused on a subject or problem is very common for people with Asperger’s. Most people would be unable to do such a problem inside their head. Another example of Christopher’s interest in mathematics is displayed when he takes his A level math exam. He constantly talks about this exam throughout the story and he keeps saying how he is going to get an A grade.
Then at the end of the book we find out that Christopher did in fact get an A on his exam and that he will be taking a test for A-level further math (220). His high achievement on this exam shows how talented he is at math and how high-functioning he is. To even further prove Christopher’s high interest in mathematics, he adds an appendix at the end of the book about how to answer an incredibly difficult math problem. The fact that Christopher is so high-functioning is common among people with Asperger’s. He is very intelligent in subject matter that interests him like mathematics and science.
Asperger’s has been said to be just a form of very high-functioning Autism. A major aspect of Asperger’s Syndrome is that people who have Asperger’s tend to have a fascination with patterns. They become fixated on performing repetitive behaviors and in getting in a routine. They have set routines that when broken, will cause them to become stressed out. Some of these patterns of repeated behavior can be a way to cope with stress like groaning or putting their hands over their heads and rocking back and forth, or it can be particular to the person. Christopher portrays many of these patterns of repetitive behavior throughout this novel.
One way Christopher shows his fascination with these repeated behaviors is early on in the book. Christopher talks about how different colors of cars in a row would determine what kind of day he would have. For example, 5 red cars in a row meant it would be a Super Good Day which means that Christopher would be in a good mood and would be more willing to try out new things. However, 4 yellow cars in a row meant it would be a Black Day, which means that Christopher would not talk to anyone and that he would “Take No Risks. (24)” This repeated behavior of how patterns of cars would etermine what kind of day Christopher would have, is common among people with Asperger’s. Although, most do not base their day on how cars are arranged, they still engage in repeated patterns like Christopher. Overall this book really shows the reader a lot about this rare disorder. This is a disorder that most people know nothing about and this book accurately depicts what it is like to live with this disorder. It shows how people who have this disorder cannot understand emotions well, have trouble with social interaction, become fixated on one subject, become engaged in repeated behaviors, along with many more characteristics.
This book helps to raise the awareness of this disorder because it is still largely unknown. What this book most effectively shows is how Christopher learns to cope with this disorder, and just live his life with Asperger’s Syndrome. Works Cited •Hadon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. New York: Random, 2004. •Asperger’s Syndrome. 23 October 2007. 24 October 2007. •Ozbayrack, Kaan. Asperger’s Disorder Homepage. 19 October 2007. 24 October 2007. •Asperger’s Syndrome Fact Sheet. 22 October 2007. 24 October 2007.