​Autistic fans' appreciation of "The Curious Incident"

On Broadway these days, you can find a young actor looking for clues in a baffling mystery -- broadly similar to the way medical researchers are looking for clues in a mystery of the human mind. With Jane Pauley now we join that search:

"My name is Christopher John Francis Boone. I know all the countries of the world and their capital cities and every prime number up to 7,057."

The hit of the season on Broadway is an explosion of sights and sounds that may make you see the world differently. It's called "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," about a 15-year-old autistic boy named Christopher Boone, played by 25-year-old Alex Sharp.

"People are very unpredictable to him," he told Pauley. "They pull faces that he doesn't understand. He can't read subtext, doesn't understand metaphors. He gets over-stimulated by things."

" It must be exhausting," Pauley said.

" Yeah, it is, it is. But it all makes so much sense. Every day, walking down the street and there are tons of people around me -- just wanna, like, crouch down and start groaning!" he laughed. "I feel like that all the time in my real life."

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Alex Sharp in the Broadway production of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time."
"Curious Incident"

"It feels like an exaggeration of qualities that I think a lot of people already have," said Sharp.

The play is based on a best-selling novel by Mark Haddon.

"Christopher describes himself as a young mathematician with some behavioral difficulties," said Haddon. "He's very talented, in his own way, but he has huge social problems."

Haddon resists labeling Christopher as autistic. "That puts him in a box. And as soon as you stick a label on him, you say, 'He's not like me, he's like somebody else.' People are so incredibly different in so many ways. It seems such a tragedy to sort of give you all a point score between A and B."


In fact, high-functioning people on the autism spectrum, like teenagers at the Hill Top Preparatory School in Philadelphia, are often extremely intelligent.

Christian Klinefelter is 16 and musically-inclined. "But I really like math, too, though."

And yet, as it does for the play's protagonist, life presents many challenges.

David Heller, 18, says, "I've heard people say my IQ's higher than my brother. Then I think about, 'Then why is he more successful than me?'"

They've all read "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," and identify with the character Christopher Boone.

"I loved the book, I could not stop reading it," said Callie Daughn-Wood, who introduced the book to her English class. "Everyone's really socially awkward at some point. So they just connected to that."

Christian described the character: "He feels more secure about math and logic things, and tries to steer clear of people."