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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, Special Needs, and Photography

Water lilies by Daniella

Published in ChicagoNow, June 22, 2015

“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.” (Sherlock Holmes from The Hound of the Baskervilles) In The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, the narrator adds, “But he notices them, like I do.”

Because the play based on this book just won a Tony award and because a friend recommended it, I started to read this tale of a 15-year-old boy on the autistic spectrum who sets out to solve the mystery of a dog’s murder. Spoiler alert to you. I am less just halfway through it, so please don’t comment on the ending. The book, narrated through Christopher’s eyes, really resonates with me. I have a granddaughter whose way of seeing the world is a lot like his. Like Christopher, she has special needs, but that doesn’t tell you very much about who she is. She also has remarkable talent and a vision to share.

Reflected in a puddle by Daniella

Verbal expression has always been a struggle for my granddaughter, but I have never doubted her talent. It just manifests itself differently. She’s a master puzzle worker, but unlike most of us who approach puzzles in the methodical “do the frame first” manner, she will sit down with 1,000 pieces and find the ones that fit through color and shape. At least we think that’s how she does it. All I know is she works out a random section very quickly while my husband, who loves puzzles, is still struggling with that frame.

She has also expressed herself through art from a very young age. Her art is colorful and abstract, but also strangely emotional and moving. But her most recent interest in photography has really amazed me.

Loving embrace by Daniella

Starting with using an old iPod, she has become quite a photographer. She approached this new interest like everything else in her life. She needed to do it in an obsessive and single-minded way until she gained mastery. At first, she took over 1,000 photos in a day, chronicling the most mundane aspects of her life. These pictures provided an interesting picture into her world.

But then something remarkable happened. She started to spend more time looking at her subject and I was shocked by the beauty and insight of her vision. I am incredibly proud of her and in awe of her talent.

Reflected by Daniella

When Christopher says, “…the pictures in my head are all pictures of things which really happened,” it made me shout, “yes.” That’s how my granddaughter’s mind works. I hope all of my friends and relatives who don’t get my granddaughter will read this book or see the play when it comes to town.

A picture is definitely worth 1,000 words, so I will stop now, My granddaughter’s photography speaks far more eloquently than I ever could.


by Laurie Levy
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