In Mark Haddon’s book “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time,” it made me think of the visual thinking I have. The character in the book, Christopher, has much anxiety, panic attacks, sensory issues, and visualizing his plans to be able to function in a society which does not accommodate Autistic people like him that much. It showed how very intelligent, but concrete Christopher was too, even with math and science. It was pretty accurate portrayal of what goes on in my mind with a few differences.
I find that there were similar traits to how I feel in society. The similar traits between Christopher and myself are that we try to adapt to a society with many multi-sensory experiences in the world. For example, when Christopher was traveling to London to be reunited with his mother, he was trying to compensate by trying many different relaxation techniques. One of which was counting to 50 breaths so he could stay calm. He also was vocalizing a lot on the subways in London which I do a lot when I am on the subways in New York City. Some people actually are staring at me, but then I turn to say hello to not be known as a freak to them.
Christopher was very compassionate for animals and much feeling for the dog that his father killed which is why his father bought him a dog at the end of the story. Although his parents split up, his parents had their own way of living with their Autistic son, Christopher. In order for both of his parents to accept him for he is, the mother split a part from his father by finding another man which eventually she broke up with. The father hid letters the mother sent grieving for Christopher’s forgiveness in the way she used to treat him. When Christopher lived with his father solely, the father didn’t embrace and accept his son for he is, and always tried to construct his son to pass as normal as much as possible. His father eventually celebrated him too.
It was only until after Christopher found out his father killed the dog, Wellington, and Christopher sought out to find his mother, that both parents accepted their son. Acceptance is a process and everyone has the chance to work out their issues with themselves to celebrate who they are and other people. When a child has a disability like autism, many parents don’t want to accept their child is Autistic, instead find a way to ‘fix’ them or make them ‘pass’, and not honoring the person their child is. Many parents look to organizations like Autism Speaks and Autism Science Foundation to fix their child to be like everyone else in order to ‘normalize’ their child. But, what is normal, anyway?
All throughout my childhood, I was always Autistic, but was never diagnosed until I was an adult. I was always very anxious to be around society, I didn’t like people touching me in a certain way, and still don’t. I also had many other sensory issues like not wanting to be around abrupt noises and I do stim either with my hands or my whole body.
Autistic people need routines, a sense of knowing what is going to happen, and repetitive thinking in our way of doing things. Sometimes being Autistic can be frustratingly stressful causing a panic attack when we are not knowing what to expect from a new situation or person. New situations and people can be anxiety provoking for Autistic people like Christopher or myself. However, autism is a developmental delay which means we can learn to be comfortable with things in time at different times of our life. It is what makes an Autistic person a human being too.
When I meet other Autistic people I feel happier than when meeting a person who is not Autistic because I am able to communicate in the language of autism with anyone on the spectrum. I believe Christopher from Haddon’s book would feel the same way. It does not mean I don’t like meeting Non-Autistic people too, but there is a different feeling when meeting other Autistic people. Everyone has their unique properties of being Human, but most importantly everyone has people they are most comfortable with.
When I attended Autreat the last 2 years that Jim Sinclair ran it, I really loved being able to Flapplaud with our hands instead of clapping. The first year I attended Autreat, I loved being able to use interaction badges to know when we wanted to communicate with each other. I also enjoyed working with the Autistic children at Autreat in 2013 where I ran the children’s program there because my friend who ran it became ill during Autreat.
Autistic people need to have the community we live in, to adapt to our needs and wants too. Police officers and other authority figures are becoming increasingly aware of what it’s like for an Autistic person in the community. For each culture in Humanity, we learn different things from different people. It does not matter what culture we belong in, whether it’s Autistic culture or Deaf Culture or any other culture in Humanity, we need to find a way to communicate and accept each other.
Haddon, M. (2007). The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. National Geographic Books.