Chapter 89

Summary: Christopher explained to Siobhan that his father ordered him to stop detecting which meant his book was finished. She complimented him on what he’d written and tried to comfort him but Christopher wasn’t satisfied, though, because his book did not have a proper ending and he still hadn’t figured out who’d killed Wellington.

Siobhan then explained something that is difficult for many of us to accept: That’s life. It’s not uncommon for things to happen that we don’t fully understand and our experiences don’t always get wrapped up with a definite conclusion. Of course, that did little to ease Christopher’s mind.

He was still unsettled that Wellington’s killer was free and likely in Christopher’s immediate area. He then told Siobhan that his father insisted that he never mention Mr. Shears name again and that he was an evil man which caused him to speculate again that he was the killer. Siobhan pointed out that he may have said that because he simply doesn’t like Mr. Shears and speculated that it could be that he was taking Mrs. Shears’ side.

Christopher then added that his father told him that Mrs. Shears isn’t their friend anymore. Siobhan had no more insight to offer and was saved by the school bell.

The following 2 days were rough for Christopher; he had 2 consecutive black days thanks to seeing yellow cars on the way to school. After shutting down for 2 straight days—secluding himself, groaning, not eating—he took advantage of some pre-arranged agreement that allows him to close his eyes on the way to school to avoid seeing yellow cars which would inevitably lead to another black day.


Application: It is important to walk a fine line between not overindulging all the quirks some students have, but to also be sensitive about how powerfully those aversions can interfere with basic functioning. You never want a child to have 2 straight black days, but it’s vital that we provide strategies and opportunities to work through fixed thoughts rather than trying to anticipate and clear every possible obstacle, because like Siobhan explained, life doesn’t always line up the way we think it should.

— Jennifer Johnston



5 thoughts on “Chapter 89

  1. Lindsey Ludwig says:

    Jennifer, that is what I think is one of the most difficult things when working with some of out kids…walking that fine line. You want to do everything you can to make them feel safe, and comfortable and set them up for success, but at the same time, you don’t want to enable behaviors that are problematic or give in too much to their preferred interests. Again, I go back to how important it really is to get to know our kids as well as we can, because it gives us a better feel for what and how much they can or can’t tolerate before they descend into those “black day” behaviors.

  2. Brooke Becker says:

    I agree! We must not indulge in all the quirks a student may have. We must find a balance and possible distractions to shift their focus to something more productive.

  3. Holly says:

    I have some of my higher functioning students with autism who are in general education with resource and speech support who have to work through a lot more of their aversions and obsessions on their own. My students that are in the autism or MSD class have trained staff that sometimes are so familiar with them that a lot of melt downs are avoided because of so much support and anticipation of their likes and dislikes. Christopher has some developed strategies, but also benefits from the translation of Siobhan-strategies coupled with opportunities rather than overanticipation of likes and dislikes.

  4. Holly Hamill says:

    It is clear that Christopher is not giving up on his detective work anytime soon despite his father’s disapproval. It bothers him that Wellington’s killer is still at large. Passing the yellow cars causing ‘black days’ is such a foreign concept to my thought process, but so real to Christopher. While I think it is helpful to be sensitive to these quirks/beliefs/thought patterns, trying to pull kids out of their ‘perceived reality’ in order to function through the day seems best. Without knowing what causes these ‘black days’ for our kids, this can be problematic. How can we best serve our students to deal with this stress and anxiety?

  5. Douglas Keefe says:

    Christopher’s ability to identify what kind of day he is having and to verbalize it to an adult is probably not typical of what we get when we encounter most kids. Since they don’t come into the room with a colored led display of what kind of day they are having, how do we really know what kind of day it is for them?

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