Chapters 79 and 83

Chapter 79 opens in the family’s kitchen. Christopher’s father confronts him about the ongoing investigation, and forbids Christopher to continue. His father is emotional and frustrated, met by Christopher’s detached assessment of the facts. Christopher makes statements intended to appease his father and end the conversation, without the intention to compromise. As Christopher’s dad accuses him of continuing the forbidden investigation, Christopher is seemingly disconnected from his father’s emotion. This is not to say he is disengaged; however, he is over-attentive to the details of the room, his food, and his own thoughts. When working with children on the spectrum or with sensory processing needs, it is important to understand how they see the world. When the brain does not effectively filter out extraneous noise or sensory stimuli, the “meaningless details” can overwhelm and distract from the communication attempted by others. Chapter 83 begins with Christopher opining about his desire to be an astronaut. He speaks to the appealing nature of the job- the social isolation that would be terrifying to some is comforting to him. The tight spaces, the machinery, and the isolation would be predictable and routine. Navigating the depths of space is less intimidating to Christopher than navigating social interactions with others. As he mentions earlier in the book, he appreciates “prime numbers because it is what exists after you have taken all the patterns away. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.” Students with social communication deficits sometimes live in a world where the patterns of communication and social interaction seem indecipherable, and as a result, are most comfortable seeking interaction with objects. It makes them feel safe and in control, in a world that may feel intimidatingly unpredictable.

–Laura Woodring

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3 thoughts on “Chapters 79 and 83

  1. Rachel Lacap says:

    I agree with you, Laura, that Christopher was very detached while his father was obviously extremely emotional and upset. If it had been me, I would have asked father “why” the situation was making him SO upset, but Christopher doesn’t make the connection between the father’s extreme emotions and the fact that they are somewhat blown out of proportion to the situation. Therefore, Christopher does not infer that there might be something bigger or deeper going on than what the father is telling him.

  2. Pam Schmit says:

    I was thinking about Christopher’s perceived detachment from his father’s emotional and frustrated demeanor. Christopher can’t handle this disconnect from his father and cannot understand the resulting continued social ramifications of this “investigation.” So his attention goes to things he can “count on” in the room, things that do not have to do with how someone feels (as that changes so much). His comfortable place is with the order of something, and then there is always food. My son had ADD growing up. He would often smile when I was frustrated with him or fussed at him. He wasn’t being disrespectful, but it still perturbed me. I think he could not process or even “fix” my frustration with him and he went to a more comfortable place for him (smiling, as if that would make everything okay).

  3. Jennifer says:

    Christopher’s desire to be an astronaut reminded me of a funny conversation I had with the mother of a child on the spectrum. She speculated (well, actually, she was convinced) that her husband was on the spectrum, too and one of the reasons was his career, which was a pilot. It had never dawned on me until she exclaimed, “Are you kidding? I know he thought, ‘How can I get as far away as humanly possible from other people? I know, I’ll be a pilot!’ ”
    She was always so funny and definitely one of my favorite parents, but I couldn’t help but think that if her husband really was on the spectrum, I’m sure she drove him crazy!

    I don’t know if there’s any correlation between pilots and ASD, but I could see how it would be appealing. Obviously, the solitude but also the black and white nature of which buttons to push and when (or whatever is involved) and the communications with air traffic control are short, purposeful, and very specific–no need for understanding or use of facial expressions or figurative language.

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