When Christopher lands himself in jail after a misunderstanding, his father is furious and yells at him. Rather than yelling back, Christopher thought to himself, “I could tell that he was angry because he was shouting, and I didn’t want to make him angry so I didn’t say anything else until we got home” (Haddon 21). Taking the time to observe the situation and think through how to respond helps Christopher stay calm and not further anger his father. Children with disorders like Christopher’s are often thought of as people who speak their mind freely and with little restraint, but Christopher proves the stereotype wrong by assessing the situation and acting to lighten the tense mood. His father, someone with no known diagnosis, is the one who loses his temper, yelling and causing upset.
Outside of fiction, parents of children with autism have trouble controlling their emotions when their children act out in ways caused by their disorder. Lisa Lieberman and Deborah Seldner explore different techniques for parents to deal with their disordered children in th...
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...urround [Christopher].” Being put in Christopher’s shoes, on the receiving end of his parents’ aggression, highlights the difference between the “severely logical” Christopher and the average teenager, who would most likely yell back at their parents. His disorder causes him to analyze every situation but only act out when one of his triggers, like being touched, is set off. When he is left untouched he is able to diffuse his parent’s anger by calmly agreeing to their requests.
Christopher acts in a way society thinks adults should act —calm and collected— while his parents moodily show their emotions as society says teenagers do. Haddon uses this irony to show the effects of Christopher’s disorder within a family dynamic. It is natural for people to act upon emotion, whether rational or not. Christopher’s objective perspective gives insight to life with autism.
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