Anonymous said to realsocialskills:Ugh, speaking as someone with an Asperger’s diagnosis, I HATED Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. I literally threw the book at the wall in fury halfway through, that’s how much its portrayal offended me. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.realsocialskills said:I owe y’all an apology. I did not notice that book recommendation in the post.I wouldn’t recommend it either. I’m so repelled by that book that I haven’t been able to read it. Even the title itself bothers me.If I had noticed that, I either would not have reblogged the post, or I would have said something.Thank you to everyone who pointed it out.
There was one scene in that book that I absolutely loved. And there was one thing about the book that I absolutely loved. But other than that, I really hated the book.
The scene I really liked involved a detailed description of overload and shutdown while trying to travel. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better than any description I had read at the time (and this was years ago).
The one other thing I loved was that his ability to work out how to travel… it showed how someone with very limited abilities in some areas could still work out more about how to do things, than anyone was giving him credit for due to his limited abilities in many areas.
One thing I disliked in the autistic community’s response to the book at the time it came out, was a lot of people said he was too unrealistically low-functioning or something. They kept saying that no intelligent child could have that many problems in that many areas. Except that he could do a lot of things that I have trouble doing, so I felt like these people were somehow dismissing my existence out of hand as well.
But there are a lot of really good reasons for hating the book.
I don’t like it for a lot of reasons.
One, they make him into a robot. Seriously. He makes no decisions of his own because all of his decisions are governed by a system of logic created by the author. He does nothing for himself, he only does things because an autistic person would do this or that in this or that situation, supposedly. He is not a person, he is a walking bag of autistic traits. He narrates the story but he is presented as someone who could never truly understand himself. And he is not in control of his actions, because they all governed by “logic” or whatever the fuck they call his programming. Because he’s like a programmed computer that only does what it’s programmed to do in response to various situations.
He’s written as totally alien to anything a reader could identify with. On purpose. Because that’s how people see autistic people. I do identify with him on some levels, but in spite of that characterization, certainly not because of it. I really didn’t like his inability to feel certain emotions and attachments, and the fact that the author seriously believed that this was a realistic way to write an autistic kid, and represent autism to everyone.
When it came out, I actually did like it, but like someone else, I was heavily influenced by a mutual online friend who was always gushing about how accurate it was, and … autistic groupthink exists. And there was a thing back then about who liked it and who didn’t and why, and who identified with it and who didn’t and why, and it was complicated. Sometimes I felt like by liking it I was saying “Yes, ‘intelligent’ autistic kids can have problems that severe in other areas.” Because a lot of autistic people were saying that was impossible.
I don’t like it now, for all kinds of reasons, some of which I’m talking about.
But the other thing is, and this is a subtler thing, something nobody was talking about really…
The character is impossible.
He is not impossible, as some people say, because he “mixed high functioning and low functioning traits”. Mixing “HFA” and “LFA” traits is downright normal among real-life autistic people. Happens constantly. I’m a living example of a rather extreme version of such.
He is impossible because the author does not understand autistic traits. He does not understand how one autistic trait fits together with another, how they play off each other. He does not understand which combinations are likely, which combinations are highly unrealistic, and which combinations are downright impossible. He does not understand how when you have a certain trait, you have to have other related traits. Or how there are some traits that never, ever go together in certain combinations.
And the author just throws in every autistic trait he can think of, regardless of how they fit together, many of which are not even autistic traits, but rather things you think are autistic traits if you read too much Francesca Happe or Uta Frith or Simon Baron-Cohen but don’t really know autistic people well. And that makes the character completely unrealistic, but not for the reasons most people imagine when they think so.