Sunday, September 7, 2008

Frame of Reference

I recently read a fascinating book titled The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. This is a story from the viewpoint of an autistic boy. The most compelling part of the book is putting the reader into the frame-of-reference of someone with autism. It’s easy to dismiss a person who we think acts strange, but the main character’s actions absolutely make sense once you’re in his head and see how he thinks and acts. The protagonist, Christopher, has amazing math and science skills but can’t interpret the expression on someone’s face. This is the way his brain operates. Just like someone “normal” finds it easy to read an expression on a face but can’t solve a quadratic equation in his or her head. Christopher doesn’t like to be touched and screams and hits when this happens. We all have our sensitivities, but his are more acute. He dislikes anything the color yellow or brown. This may at first seem strange, but he has his own logic on why this is so that once you hear it makes sense. We all have our personal preferences, but again, Christopher’s are more extreme. This book was also meaningful to me since I write about a character who has short-term memory loss, and I’ve needed to put myself in the perspective of someone who can’t remember what happened to him the day before. Before we judge people who are “different” it’s extremely important to live in their worlds.

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