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Speech in the Schools

Book It, Part 18: A View from the Mind of...

Published December 19, 2011 9:00 AM by Sean Sweeney

The Curious Incident

Although this series has predominantly been about picture books that SLPs can utilize in language therapy, I suppose I am allowed to make some detours. I recently re-read one of my all-time favorite books, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, and it occurred to me how much I wanted to recommend this book to SLPs.

The novel is extraordinarily engaging, touching and humorous, and thoroughly unique in its presentation of a story narrated by a fifteen year old boy with Asperger's. Though the book has been criticized for not accurately depicting the psychology of this disorder, and Haddon has expressed regret that Christopher Boone, his main character, was labeled so specifically with AS on the book jacket (I myself questioned that on the re-read and thought he seemed more like a child with High Functioning Autism), it still is a brilliant and insightful read.

The book begins as a mystery: young Christopher finds his neighbor's dog quite clearly the victim of foul play, and determines to solve the mystery of its demise and write a book in the process. Along the way, he makes some unintended discoveries about his own family and tests the limits of his own tolerance for very much non-routine and "curious incidents."

Experiencing this great story through Christopher's voice will likely remind you of many of your students you have had along the way. This passage, in which Christopher (who, by the way is British) is describing why he cannot lie, has always resonated with me not only because of its humor, but also its language and grasp of rigid patterns of thinking:

For instance, this morning for breakfast I had Ready-Brek and some hot raspberry milkshake. But if I say I had Shreddies3 and a mug of tea I start thinking about Coco-Popps and lemonade and porridge and Dr. Pepper and how I wasn't eating my breakfast in Egypt and there wasn't a rhinoserous in the room and Father wasn't wearing a diving suit and so on and even writing this makes me feel shaky and scared, like I do when I am standing at the top of a very tall building and there are thousands of houses and cars and people below me and my head is so full of all these things that I'm afraid that I'm going to forget to stand up straight and hang on to the rail and I'm going to fall over and be killed.

3But I wouldn't have Shreddies and tea because they are both brown.

Apologies for the long quote, but I just think that is excellent in so many ways. I hope that over the vacation you'll consider checking out The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and read it with your students in mind (and also the parents who struggle to keep it together). It's ultimately quite inspiring, and if you have the opportunity of being able to read and discuss a book at this level with teens with challenges similar to Christophers', it would make a great "Book Club" book. I heard from my friend @SLPTanya that the book is not available on iBooks or Kindle, but that it is downloadable on the Kobo app.


I loved this book too!! It is really a view from the inside out!! And so well written.....It gives you a really good idea of how an autistic individual perceives everything around him/her.....

Lucy Bloom-Hagerty, Autism - SLP, LAUSD December 22, 2011 11:02 AM
Los Angeles CA

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About this Blog

    Speech in the Schools
    Occupation: School-based speech-language pathologists
    Setting: Traditional and specialized K-12 classrooms
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