Friday 14 September 2012

A Curious Incident and Big Day Build-up

Welcome back to Adventures with Autism Works. Now that it is September, the first reminder that comes to mind for me is how much closer the Great North Run is. As I write this blog, it now less than two days away! However, aside from my training for the run, I have continued with studying towards the ISEB and I have also had the pleasure of viewing the stage version of the best-selling novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which brought back a lot of phrases I am familiar with from my past!

Luke Treadaway as Christopher Boone
Broadcast live from London's Cottesloe Theatre at Tyneside Cinema, the stage version of Mark Haddon's best-selling novel, adapted for stage by Simon Stephens was a fantastic and innovative production. Having previously read and enjoyed the novel, at around the time when my first book Glass Half-Empty Glass Half-Full, one of the aspects of adapting such a story to the stage while writing a book directly from my own personal experiences of Asperger’s Syndrome that I felt would be such a difficult task was to with much of the story being ‘in the head’. Similarly, when I am giving training on Asperger’s Syndrome, I try as best I can to give audience members an idea of how it may actually feel to be a person with Asperger’s Syndrome. Because the descriptions of events surrounding the death his neighbour’s dog Wellington by the central character, Christopher Boone (played by Luke Treadaway), are so individualistic, I did have questions about how this could be done on stage. From an Asperger perspective, I was very impressed with how this was put across.

The way that Christopher gave very literal answers to questions asked by his father and the policemen, as well as literal interpretations of literal instructions and metaphors (which he felt should be called ‘lies’) and how confusing he found people generally, reminded me a lot of my own childhood. Like Christopher, I did have a tendency to ‘regurgitate’ excessive facts and information about astronomy, but I did also hear the familiar phrases ‘Christopher please’ and ‘Christopher give it a break’ that his parents often would say to him almost as if they were coming back from my past! Also like Christopher, I did also have dreams about becoming an astronaut when I grew up for similar reasons, to get away from the excessive confusion of being around people and various other human conventions that I felt didn’t make sense!

What was especially impressive though about the production when putting across the story through the mind of Christopher was with the sensory aspect of autism, particularly when at the railway station, where they used a montage of different sound effects heard in such an environment from adverts, broadcasts and echoing tannoy messages where one struggles to make anything out, as well as flashing a list of different rail service providers along the stage floor, to illustrate confusion and anxiety. The concluding part of the story though, where Christopher achieves his A-Star in maths and realises that he could do more than he was capable of after finding his way to London from Swindon to see his mother was heart-warming, when he realised that he was braver than he thought!

Coming back to my own life experiences, I felt a similar feeling after reaching Everest Base Camp in 2009 to raise funds for the National Autistic Society, realising that I was capable of more than I thought. Before this, I had never thought of myself entering a half-marathon. As I mentioned when speaking on BBC Radio Tees this week*, just to complete the Bupa Great North Run will be a huge achievement for me, on the same level as reaching Everest Base Camp was. To donate to my effort, visit the following link

*To listen to my interview with BBC Tees' Mike Parr this morning about my participation in this Sunday's Great North Run at the following link My interview takes place from 2.22. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Tyneside Cinema for their help in arranging a collection point for the Daisy Chain Project, as well as to the cinemagoers who very kindly donated.

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