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Grade 9, Q3, 3-5 Weeks

Embracing the New, the Difficult, and the Unknown


Instructional Resource


Understanding Autism

Sensory overload activity directions and supplies

Difficult maze

“Do Animals and People with Autism Have True Consciousness?” by Temple Grandin

Autism Quotient survey (

4. Creating voice

Creating voice in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

6. Part 1 review and quiz

Part 1 quiz

9. Christopher’s Journey

Christopher’s journey worksheet

10. Part 1 review and quiz

Part 2 quiz

11. Inside Autism

“The Play That Took Me Inside My Autistic Son’s Head” by Priscilla Alvarez

14. The custody battle

The Custody Battle - Should Christopher live with Mother or Father?

15. Summative assessment

Summative assessment

Module 1
Sensory overload activity

EITHER saran wrap or cheap sunglasses – enough for each student

Petroleum jelly

Copies of the difficult maze – enough for each student

Copies of “Do Animals and People with Autism Have True Consciousness?” by Temple Grandin – one per group

Laptop/music player to play very loud, aggressive music


Activity one – difficult maze

Provide a long piece of saran wrap OR a pair of cheap sunglasses for each student. If using saran wrap, instruct students to use the saran to cover their eyes only by tucking it behind their ears (like glasses). Then have students use about ½ tsp of petroleum jelly to cover the area over their eyes. This will obscure their vision incredibly. Pass out the copies of the difficult maze, and ask students to complete the maze – only give them 60 seconds. This will heighten their anxiety. Some students may complete it, but most won’t. This activity is meant to provide students with the experience of visual sensory overload. Have students debrief in their groups about what made the activity difficult and why.
Activity two – article and music

Instruct students to pick one person to read the article while the remaining members must take notes. This article is a purposefully complex article by Temple Grandin about consciousness in animals and humans with Autism. Most students will not understand the article, purposefully. As students begin this activity, play extremely loud, aggressive music. Not only will this act as a distraction, it will provide excessive auditory input which leads to auditory sensory overload. Have students debrief in their groups about what made the activity difficult and why.

Next, debrief as a class. Explain the concept of sensory overload ( and how people on the Autism Spectrum often have difficulty with every-day tasks because of sensory overload.
Have students take the Autism Quotient assessment. Most students will exhibit “symptoms” of Autism without realizing that these habits of theirs could be construed as “symptoms” of Autism (combined with other issues, and only diagnosed by a trained medical professional!). Discuss how these factors can be contained within all of our personalities and make us more connected rather than separated.

“Do Animals and People with Autism Have True Consciousness?” by Temple Grandin

Directions: Read each statement carefully. Mark the box that best represents your answer.

Definitely agree



Slightly disagree

Definitely disagree


I prefer to do things with others rather than on my own.


I prefer to do things the same way over and over again.


If I try to imagine something, I find it very easy to create a picture in my mind.


I frequently get so strongly absorbed in one thing that I lose sight of other things.


I often notice small sounds when others do not.


I usually notice car number plates or similar strings of information.


Other people frequently tell me that what I’ve said is impolite, even though I think it is polite.


When I’m reading a story, I can easily imagine what the characters might look like.


I am fascinated by dates.


In a social group, I can easily keep track of several different people’s conversations.


I find social situations easy.


I tend to notice details that others do not.


I would rather go to a library than to a party.


I find making up stories easy.


I find myself drawn more strongly to people than to things.


I tend to have very strong interests, which I get upset about if I can’t pursue.


I enjoy social chitchat.


When I talk, it isn’t always easy for others to get a word in edgewise.


I am fascinated by numbers.


When I’m reading a story, I find it difficult to work out the characters’ intentions.


I don’t particularly enjoy reading fiction.


I find it hard to make new friends.


I notice patterns in things all the time.


I would rather go to the theater than to a museum.


It does not upset me if my daily routine is disturbed.


I frequently find that I don’t know how to keep a conversation going.


I find it easy to ‘read between the lines’ when someone is talking to me.


I usually concentrate more on the whole picture, rather than on the small details.


I am not very good at remembering phone numbers.


I don’t usually notice small changes in a situation or a person’s appearance.


I know how to tell if someone listening to me is getting bored.


I find it easy to do more than one thing at once.


When I talk on the phone, I’m not sure when it’s my turn to speak.


I enjoy doing things spontaneously.


I am often the last to understand the point of a joke.


I find it easy to work out what someone is thinking or feeling just by looking at their face.


If there is an interruption, I can switch back to what I was doing very quickly.


I am good at social chitchat.


People often tell me that I keep going on and on about the same thing.


When I was young, I used to enjoy playing games involving pretending with other children.


I like to collect information about categories of things (e.g., types of cars, birds, trains, plants).


I find it difficult to imagine what it would be like to be someone else.


I like to carefully plan any activities I participate in.


I enjoy social occasions.


I find it difficult to work out people’s intentions.


New situations make me anxious.


I enjoy meeting new people.


I am a good diplomat.


I am not very good at remembering people’s date of birth.


I find it very easy to play games with children that involve pretending.

Module 4


Creating voice in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

In an interview, Mark Haddon said that he wanted to write the whole book in Christopher’s voice, but that he realized that he had to find a way to do this while keeping the character of Christopher realistic. He said:

“… if Christopher were real he would find it very hard, if not impossible, to write a book. The one thing he cannot do is put himself in someone else’s shoes, and the one thing you have to do if you write a book is put yourself in someone else’s shoes. The reader’s shoes. You’ve got to entertain them, and there’s no way he could have done that.
It took me a while to figure out that puzzle. The answer I came up with is having him be a fan of the Sherlock Holmes stories. That way, he doesn’t have to put himself in the mind of the reader. He just has to say, ‘I enjoy Sherlock Holmes stories and I’ll do something similar to that.’”

Usually when we talk about ‘voice’ we mean the noise that a person makes when they speak or sing. ‘Voice’ in a novel or a poem means the way a writer, or a character created by the writer, expresses themselves. This can include the language they use, the attitudes they have and the ‘tone’ (for example sarcastic or sad). The voice in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is Christopher’s voice, but of course he is not a real person. So how does Mark Haddon make us believe in Christopher’s voice? Mark Haddon explains:

What I started with was the image of a dog with a gardening fork in it. Then I got Christopher’s toneless voice.

This ‘toneless voice’ is typical of someone with Asperger Syndrome. In real life this means that the voice of someone with Asperger Syndrome can sound monotonous – in other words their feelings are not expressed in their voice.

Explore the scene in chapter 53 when Christopher’s father explains that Christopher’s mother has died. Start from, “Father said he didn’t know what kind of heart attack” through “and I beat her 247 points to 134.”
In you group, complete the following steps and be prepared to discuss:
1. Try reading it aloud in different tones of voice, for example passionately, angrily, sadly, unemotionally. Which best suits the way it is written? Why?
2. Look at the word choice in the passage. Do you notice anything about the variety of word choice that Haddon uses to create Christopher’s voice?

3. There are four main types of sentences – statements, exclamations, questions and commands. Talk about whether Haddon uses a variety of sentence types for Christopher and then think about how he has used sentence types to help create Christopher’s voice.

4. When you have finished the above steps, work together as a group to write a one paragraph statement explaining how Mark Haddon gives Christopher a voice. You could use the sentence starters suggested here to help you:
The way Mark Haddon uses … makes Christopher’s voice sound …

By using … the writer gives the impression that …

When Christopher … the reader thinks …

Another way Haddon creates a realistic voice for Christopher is by …

The use of … helps the reader to imagine …
Module 6


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time pt 1 quiz
Directions. Answer one question from each section in complete sentences. Circle the number of the question you select. Make sure to answer in complete sentences and answer all parts of the questions. Include textual evidence as requested.
Section A.

  1. Why is Christopher writing a murder mystery novel?

  2. Explain the whole situation concerning Christopher’s mother’s death.

Section B.

  1. Why does Christopher go into detail explaining the Monty Hall Problem? How does he relate to this?

  1. Explain the difference between Christopher’s Good Day, a Quite Good Day, a Super Good Day, and a Bad Day. Why might this system seem silly to someone other than Christopher?

Section C.

  1. Describe, in detail, the two reasons why Christopher finds people confusing. Include textual evidence to support your response.

  1. Describe, in detail, Christopher’s explanation of his memory. Include textual evidence to support your response.

Module 9


Christopher’s Journey to London and Back
During Christopher’s journey to London to find his mother, he has to overcome sensory obstacles. And when he learns he’s returning to Swindon, he has a major emotional obstacle to overcome. Explain an obstacle for each of the senses, and then explain the big emotional obstacle.

Module 10

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time pt 1 quiz
Directions. Answer one question from each section. Circle the number of the question you select. Make sure to answer in complete sentences and answer all parts of the questions. Include textual evidence as requested.
Section A.

1. Where does Christopher find his book? What else does he find there?

2. Why can’t Christopher trust his father?

Section B.

1. What is the second mystery Christopher must now solve?

2. Describe the similarities that Christopher points out between humans and computers and between humans and animals.

Section C.

1. What is Occam’s theory? How does Christopher apply it to the ideas he discusses in this section of the novel? Include evidence from the novel to support your answer.

2. What is the difference between Christopher’s observations and “ordinary” people’s observations? Include evidence from the novel to support your answer.

Module 11

Page 1 of 2 Apr 12, 2016 03:49:25PM MDT

The Play That Took Me Inside My Autistic Son's Head

Priscilla Alvarez

For 16 years we’ve been locked outside my firstborn son’s head. Sam is a boy, fast becoming a man, whose sense of the

world around him is defined by his own fixed point on the autism spectrum. He can rarely conceive what’s expected of him

in social situations, and by that I mean a setting as routine as a family dinner with his parents and his two brothers—let

alone an environment as demanding as high school, or the adult world.

But for two hours recently, we got a glimpse at some of the chaos that might be raging in there, thanks to The Curious

Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time—the innovative, high-tech theatrical adaptation of Mark Haddon’s 2003 best-selling

novel of the same name. The play, which was recently nominated for six Tony Awards, came to New York from London’s

National Theatre in a production directed by Marianne Elliott (War Horse). It takes an immersive approach to

communicating the internal state of its hero, Christopher. Like Sam, Christopher is an autistic teenage boy who’s often

perplexed by the day-to-day demands of human interaction.

“People often say, ‘Be quiet,’ but they don’t tell you how long to be quiet for,” says Christopher at one point, attempting to

explain the confusion he feels almost constantly. The show isn’t without humor in the way it portrays the poignancy of the

missed emotional connections between Christopher and his family and the people he meets, and the line drew a healthy

laugh from the audience. But for me and Sam’s mom, it lingered.

Unlike Christopher, who is rather on the voluble side for a kid on the spectrum—Haddon has stated that his book is more

about cognitive differences than “any specific disorder”—Sam has been diagnosed not just with Asperger’s but also

“selective mutism,” an extension of his social anxiety. If he’s uncomfortable, he gets stuck, and he won’t, or can’t, talk.

When he was overwhelmed at a new school full of high-functioning extroverts two years ago, his shutdown lasted all


Haddon’s book surely wouldn’t have worked with an uncommunicative main character, and it goes without saying that a

theatrical adaptation would have been out of the question. Even so, for years the author considered his beloved book to be

“unadaptable.” But the ingenious storytelling methods devised by Elliott, playwright Simon Stephens, and their

choreographers and set designers are the primary reason the show succeeds. Christopher’s anxious chatter isn’t the only

window into his mind—the design elements illuminate his turmoil, too.

The production team set the show inside a big black box. (It’s the same team that premiered the play in London, with a

different cast.) The three walls facing the audience are lit to look like graph paper; letters and symbols and mathematic

equations cascade across them, sometimes defying gravity, streaming up from the floor to the ceiling. When Christopher is

distressed, electronic music pounds and seizure-inducing hot white lights flash.

When Christopher is distressed, electronic music pounds and seizure-inducing hot white lights flash.

Long before he was diagnosed, we knew something was different about Sam. On a trip to Los Angeles just after the birth

of our second son—Sam was a year and nine months old—we were stunned as we sat in a parking lot and he blurted out

the letters on the sign in front of us: “S-T-A-R-B-U-C-K-S.” We had no idea he’d already learned the alphabet. Soon, to

soothe himself to sleep, he was reciting the alphabet forward and backward.

As he grew older, Sam’s stony facial expression, so characteristic to the condition, would only rarely betray any kind of

emotion. But we’ve come to understand that’s a hard mask for his inner turbulence. Seeing it imagined onstage was a

revelation. The play’s bad-trip-at-a-rave depiction of Christopher’s rampaging synapses represents a stark contrast with

the theater industry’s recent efforts to make shows such as The Lion King more accessible to kids on the autism

spectrum, with softer volume and dimmer lighting.

In another of the play’s inventive moments, when Christopher (played by Alex Sharp, a Broadway newcomer and recent

Juilliard graduate) is having an out-of-body experience, his supporting cast members take their roles literally. They hold

him up parallel to the ground so he can sprint around the walls, like another science-minded high schooler, Peter Parker,

after his spider bite.

Curious Incident's creative use of visual elements is just one way the show communicates how many people on the autism

Page 2 of 2 Apr 12, 2016 03:49:25PM MDT

Curious Incident's creative use of visual elements is just one way the show communicates how many people on the autism

spectrum experience seeing the world. In the book Life, Animated, Ron Suskind writes about his son’s Asperger’s and

how the two were able to connect through Disney movies. Sam, too, has an affinity for animation: He creates amusing

short films using a graphics tablet and a software suite, and has a remarkable facility for perspective. Temple Grandin, the

animal behaviorist and autism activist, has written extensively about her own visual thinking, stating, “My mind is similar to

an Internet search engine that searches for photographs.” And Christopher might agree. “I see everything,” he says in the


Most people gazing out the window on a train, he states, will acknowledge the general view: the grass, the cows, the

fence. Then their mind will begin to wander. But if Christopher is on that train, he’ll calculate the whole scene: 19

cows—15 of them black and white, four brown and white. Thirty-one houses visible in the village in the distance, plus one

church without a spire. The landscape is highest to the northeast. It’s exhausting just hearing him describe it, but it gives

some sense of what it must be like to be so attuned to minute details.

"I see everything," Christopher says.

The “curious incident” mentioned in the show’s title is Christopher’s discovery of a dead dog in a neighbor’s yard. He

wants to find out who killed the dog and left it there, but he’s quickly marked as a suspect himself. The event prompts

Christopher to uncover some upsetting family secrets related to his parents’ reactions to their own shortcomings, and their

despair that they can’t properly care for their son.

The moments in the show that focused on the parents’ frustrations were all too familiar for us. Ed, Christopher’s

well-meaning, working-class dad (played with lumbering sensitivity by Ian Barford), whips painfully between tenderness

toward his child and fist-clenching fury over his inability to help him navigate the world. Ed and his estranged wife, Judy

(Enid Graham), have become trapped by their own sense of discouragement, and find it hard to imagine a more hopeful

future for themselves and for Christopher.

We’ve been there—we’re forever backtracking there, it seems—with Sam. But we left the show buoyed, at least for the

night. The show ends on an up note (spoiler alert): Christopher celebrates, in his own curious way, his successes. Against

the odds, he’s aced a major exam, survived a harrowing trip to London, reconciled with his mum and solved the mystery of

the death of Wellington, the dog.

“Does that mean I can do anything?” he asks.

For the parents of a child on the spectrum, the true answer might not be the one we want. But it’s our continuing job to help

Sam understand his own mind. As much as we’ve struggled, seeing such an inspired interpretation of my son’s baffling

affliction gave us the gift of a necessary reminder: Sam, like Christopher, is the one trying to find his bearings at the center

of his own curious world.
Module 14
Group Member Names:

The Custody Battle - Should Christopher live with Mother or Father?
As a class you are going to prepare and take part in a hearing to decide whether Christopher should live with Mother or Father.
You will work in small groups representing one person in Christopher’s life. Remember, this is not necessarily your opinion, but rather the opinion of the person you are representing.



A social worker, representing Christopher

Not very interested in what is good for the parents. Christopher’s needs are most important.

Siobhan, Christopher’s teacher

Likely to be mainly concerned for Christopher but has seen Father do a good job in caring for his son.

Mr. Jeavons, the school psychologist

Considers what would be best for Christopher’s mental health. Will explain the need for a child on the Autism spectrum to have stability.

A lawyer representing Mother

Will present the case for Mother to have full custody as strongly as possible.

A lawyer representing Father

Will present the case for Father to have full custody as strongly as possible.

Mrs. Alexander, a concerned neighbor

Probably the closest person Christopher has to a friend. Hasn’t had a good impression of Father.

Each group will prepare a one-minute explanation of your choice. Support your opinions with evidence taken from the novel. You need to take into account practical considerations, such as suitable accommodation and arrangements for education, as well as emotional considerations.

After all six contributions, take a vote on whether you think Christopher should live with his mother or his father, or whether they should have joint custody

Key Ideas and Details






In addition to level 3, students select multiple examples to accurately support their argument.

Students select a specific example from the novel to accurately support their argument.

Students select vague details from the novel that loosely support their argument.

Students select incorrect or irrelevant, details from the novel to attempt to support their argument.

Student does not complete the assignment OR work turned in does not match the expectation of the assignment.

Module 15


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Summative Assessment

At the end of the novel, Christopher states:

And I know I can do this because I went to London on my own, and because I solved the mystery of Who Killed Wellington? and I found my mother and I was brave and I wrote a book and that means I can do anything. -221

Additionally, in regards to the end of the novel, Mark Haddon remarks:

How readers react to Christopher’s last words, ‘I can do anything’ depends on them. Is it [a fantasy]? Is he going to become a university maths professor, or is he going to spend the rest of his life in social care?

(Level 2) First, fill in the chart below with examples from the novel to support Christopher becoming a math professor AND him relying on social services for his entire life. Your goal is to come up with as many examples you can think of to support both possibilities.

Christopher becomes a math professor

Christopher relies on social services for his entire life

(Level 3) Then, using your awareness and understanding of those with various perspectives, pick a side. Determine your claim if you think Christopher will become a math professor or rely on social services for the rest of his life. On the back, write a clear argument supporting your claim. Please be thorough and specific. (Level 4) Incorporate textual evidence from the novel (including page #) to support your claim.

ELA, Office of Curriculum Development © 5/2016 Page of

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