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Autism, language and communication
Although the word is not mentioned in the novel, Christopher does suffer from Asperger's syndrome, which is an autistic spectrum disorder. This means that Christopher expresses himself in a simple and straightforward way and cannot understand commonly accepted modes of signaling. For instance, he says 'I find people confusing. This is for two main reasons. The first main reason is that people do a lot of talking without using any words...The second main reason is that people often talk using metaphors.' Christopher does not accept the typical 'signals' that people use to communicate, for instance 'raising an eyebrow' which Siobhan explains to him 'can mean 'I want to do sex with you' and it can also mean 'I think that what you just said was very stupid.'
Christopher does not like to be hugged. He does not understand what different facial expressions are. He needs to relate directly and individually to language; through his writing, language is reborn in less encumbered way. Most of us would understand what 'I laughed my socks off' meant but few of us would know where the expression originated, and so we have lost the impact of the metaphor because we don't know why it is used in this way. Christopher forces us to reassess our relationship with language so that it speaks directly to us and so that the only tool we use to communicate is a direct reflection of what we think and feel, not a borrowed or inherited means of expression.