Autism is a superpower, I think. All the autistic spectrum kids I’ve taught have some kind of amazing talent that is just plain frightening, and I don’t think we mere mortals often know how to handle it. Several of my friends’ kids have some form of Aspergers, and in a book where the main theme is feeling like a freak, this felt so right.
Matthew Who is Autistic isn’t based on any one in particular, but his obsession with Steamcraft is. My sons are obsessed with it, with Captain Sparkles, and are currently trying to construct an alternate reality with its own periodic table. This event from the book is stolen direct from a conversation with my boys:
Matthew … invented a machine to make bacon out of pigs which has got a flamethrower and whirling blades.
There was more (much more) but I had to delete it in the interests of keeping the book under 200,000 words.
His comments on Sikhism will probably only make sense if you’re studied the religion recently. Frank’s metaphor falls flat.
‘It’s like being in a temple with the priest gone out,’ I said.
‘Sikhs have no priests,’ Matthew said.
I guess he was talking to me, but it was hard to tell because he was studying the noticeboard behind my left ear, which was full of drawings of idiots injuring themselves in exciting ways and pictures of safety equipment which MUST BE WORN AT ALL TIMES, which for some reason, made me feel uneasy.
I’d also like to give a shout out to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, which I LOVE LOVE LOVE. It is absolute genius on toast and I could not stop reading it.