SALISBURY, MD---Christopher Boone, 15, doesn’t understand people. Suffering from autism, the teenager relaxes by doing math problems in his head. He eats red—but not yellow or brown—foods. He takes everything he hears at face value.
People don’t understand Christopher, either. When his neighbor’s poodle is killed, he is blamed for the death because of his different behavior. He sets out to determine what really happened using his own unique methods, writing a journal of his investigation along the way. The result, author Mark Haddon’s fictional The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, has been selected as this year’s book in Salisbury University’s New Student Reader Program.
According to Lawanda Dockins-Gordy, new student experience director, the faculty committee in charge of the reader program chose Haddon’s book in hopes it will spark discussions among students about diversity and disabilities including autism that they likely will encounter at SU and beyond. The book raises many important issues including trust in others, avoiding stereotypes and understanding others’ beliefs and actions.
“We wanted to challenge students to read something new and connect with the story,” Dockins-Gordy said.
According to statistics, most SU students—as well as most people in the world—will know someone with autism in their lifetimes. The disability affects approximately 1 in every 250 people, roughly 1.5 million in the United States alone.
In connection with the program, Dr. Kevin Brothers, founding executive director of the Somerset Hills Learning Institute in Gladstone, NJ, discusses autism as this year’s Fall Convocation speaker 10:30 a.m. Friday, August 25, in Red Square. The entire freshman class attends.
Through Somerset Hills, Brothers provides an education and treatment program for children with autism. The institute’s mission is to graduate students, whether to traditional educational settings or the workplace, as independent and productive citizens. Brothers has helped achieve these outcomes for many people with autism in the past 20 years.
Founded in 2005, the New Student Reader Program offers new students at SU a common experience to begin the school year. Each new student is required to read the book for discussions with faculty and fellow new students prior to Convocation.
For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu.