Thursday, 2 April 2009


Today is World Autism Awareness Day. I work with children who are on the autistic spectrum. I spend a lot of time working with teachers to give them the skills and knowledge to teach children with Autistic Spectrum Condition. It’s a fascinating and frustrating job.

Fascinating because I am privileged to hear first-hand accounts of the children, their fears and joys as they work so hard to ‘fit in.’

Frustrating because there’s never enough resource or goodwill to go round and because these kids shouldn’t have to ‘fit in.’ They should be accepted.

When I’m introducing the topic of autism or raising awareness in a school, I often recommend ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’ by Mark Haddon. Firstly because it is a brilliantly written book, tightly plotted with painstakingly observed characters. I love this book; I wish I had written it.

Secondly, it gives the reader a good insight into the experience of one individual with ASC.

Christopher Boone is 15. He is brilliant at Maths and Science but finds other people difficult to fathom. He has good days and bad days, he dislikes anything brown and likes yellow. He observes minute detail but not the whole picture.

When he finds his neighbours dog lying dead on the lawn he decides to investigate. But his investigations unravel so much more. The final plot twist is heart-breaking but so plausible.

My only gripe? Well, it’s not with the book. The only problem might be that some people treat it as a textbook and think that Christopher Boone represents all children on the spectrum. They are all individuals.