It’s the annual World Autism Awareness Day. Last year, Twitter provided an excellent source of links and information through #WAAD – so check out Twitter later today if you are interested. I’d like to use the occasion to put in a plug for an old book, a classic indeed, that I only read last Summer, but that should be on anyone’s reading list who wants to enter the world of people with autism:
And that book is Mark Haddon’s the curious incident of the dog in the night-time. It’s from 2003, but that’s no reason to not recommend it. It’s a wonderful novel of a boy with autism living with his father (with flashbacks to periods in his life when his parents still lived together), who looks at the world in his own way, highly logical and with a strong sense of justice. From his perspective, neurotypical people are often behaving strangely and inconsistently and are violating their own rules – and well, lets face it, they do, don’t they? I surely haven’t read as many books on autism as some of the commenters/readers of CT have, but of those that I read, I found this book one of the most enlightening narrative about what autism means (at least, for the subgroup of people with autism that I know from real life; those who are very severely disabled and have a combination of autism with cognitive disabilities do not enter my life frequently on an intensive basis, and somehow I have the impression they are also less likely to be written about in books).
There’s only one warning, which needs repeating, especially on a day like today: if you have met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. The same holds for novels/autobiographies of people with autism: if you have read one novel/(auto-)biography of a person with autism, you have learnt something about one person’s autism. Autism manifests itself very differently in people, and whichever book one reads will never give a full description of ‘autism’ in general. Science books may do (since they are explaining us what autism is at a higher level of abstraction), but in my experience it’s very hard for science to convey what it really is to live a life with autism. The narrative method is much more powerful for this than any scientific method. Anyone who has read something good on autism (new or older): the floor is yours.