Document Type

Student Research Paper


Spring 2016

Academic Department

Occupational Therapy


This project seeks to understand how sensory processing disorder (SPD) impacts a teenager in the novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. The book tells the story of a young teenage boy named Christopher who goes on a quest to solve the murder of his neighbor’s dog. Although the novel is a work of fiction, the main character is based off of the author’s experiences working with children who have diagnoses such as SPD and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Christopher experiences sensory processing difficulties, and his account of his local neighborhood mystery is not only an investigation, but also insight into the nature of SPD. A qualitative, narrative inquiry analysis approach provides insight into Christopher’s sensory experiences as an adolescent. Narrative analysis helps to understand the personal, social, and cultural experiences through story telling (Cohen & Crabtree, 2006). It is a valuable tool to gain internal thoughts, emotions, and perspectives from a person who experiences sensory patterns and sensory dysfunction first hand. Coding strategies were used to identify themes throughout the novel. This approach utilizes a unique perspective for gathering sensory data, as compared to the typical assessments and observation skills that clinicians, specifically occupational therapists, use to guide intervention. Coding techniques used to analyze the novel allow for increased awareness of the unique needs of adolescents with sensory difficulties. Mark Haddon’s work is a beneficial read for clinicians, caregivers, and interested readers alike.


Senior Thesis.