This book allows you to get into the mind of an autistic 15 year old living with his father in England. It is a very uniquely written novel and very enjoyable. If anyone else has read it could you provide me with some opinions on some of the messages and themes portrayed within the novel??
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I liked this book. I have worked with many children who have autism (people first language, please) and Haddon does a good job of expressing what is known about the functioning of an atypical thinker. But if you are really interested in the topic, read any of Temple Grandin's work, or Born on a Blue Dayby Daniel Tammet. Both of these authors have autism; Tammet is the subject of a very interesting program that shows every now and then on (I think) Discovery Channel, called "Brain Man". Tammet, among other wild abilities like memorizing pi (seven hours worth), learned to speak Icelandic in a week. Grandin has a PhD in Animal Science, and makes some very interesting comparisons between the way her brain works, and the way she believes animals' do.
In general, all the books including Haddon's, make the point that there are different ways of thinking, and different ways that human brains function. Understanding that, makes it easier for everyone understand and be understood by others.
It's been awhile since I've read this. It was actually given to me by a parent of autistic twins. I taught one of her sons sophomore year, & the other was in my AP Language class his junior year. One of the ideas I took from my reading was to be conscious of my words and actions around everyone, but to be especially aware of how I may be interpreted. Because it is told from the autistic boy's pov, it portrays one possible scenario of thought processes. It helped me to realize that what I may have intended with my words may not necessarily be the outcome. Metaphors and abstract sayings are sometimes particularly confusing for autistic students, as many think on a very literal level.
The other aspect that stuck with me was the different associations that different brains have. I mean, everyone associates images, texts, scents, whatever in their own way, but I was very interested in the idea of motions and facial expression having colors attached to them. thining of smiles, for example, in terms of "yellow" or "red" was something new to me, & I tried to carry those extraordinary ways of thinking into my teaching.
It did have a unique point of view that is especially appealing to young readers. It can make them more aware of their environment, especially of people who are not as fortunate as they are, but it really needs to be followed up with other works under an umbrella theme to have the greatest impact.
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