Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Retrospective Read: Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night

I read this book ages ago, maybe even when I was in high school. I think I read it before I knew I had Asperger's.

This book came out around the beginning of Asperger's consciousness, and was held up as a prototypical example of Asperger's. This is problematic on two levels: one, it is meaningless to hold up individual examples as prototypical, because people are different and no-one is the Aspie Postergirl/boy. Two, the kid in Curious Incident is more on the autism side of things than Asperger's. I don't remember much from the book but I remember getting frustrated about that.

Another thing I remember about it is that when the boy gets overloaded he tunes the radio into white noise and listens to it. I've never had to desire to do that, but I fully understand it. If all around you is noise, but you know there is meaning you are supposed to be getting from the noise, to listen to continuous meaningless noise can be soothing, a way of asserting control.

I'm trying to think of what I do that's like this. Oh yes! I tune the radio station to a channel where they're speaking a language I don't understand. That way I can enjoy the cadence of speech while resting the part of my brain that interprets language. It's like music.

Should everyone read The Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night? I don't think so. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, really, let along everyone. And keep in mind that if you read it and come away considering yourself an expert on Asperger's, I may very well stab you.