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Sir Gibbie (Sir Gibbie, #1)
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Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
These chapters tore my heart out! I have a couple of questions I want to bring up, but feel free to bring up anything about these chapters you like. I know there was a lot of Scots in these chapters as well, so feel free to post questions about the language too.

Gibbie is a remarkable little boy with some unusual features. To me, he reminds me of my son who just turned nine and is on the autistic spectrum. The reason for this is how little Gibbie speaks, how he is unaware of his poverty and condition, and his fixation on solving a problem once his mind is set on it. Seeing Gibbie in this way may or may not be helpful, but it makes this book feel very personal for me. How do you see Gibbie?

Secondly, Sir George is again painted in the most sympathetic strokes as possible. God's answer to Sir George's prayer for deliverance from alcohol abuse was to let him die. This seems harsh. Do you feel like this is true to life though?

J.F. (jfrogers) | 49 comments Sorry I haven't been chiming in on this. I've been keeping up with the story...just not the conversation.

I love Gibbie! I wouldn't have thought about him being on the autism spectrum, but now that you mention it, his behaviors do fall in line.
Before your mention of the autism spectrum, I just saw him as a good-natured kid with boundless energy...possibly ADHD with his seeming inability to sit still. As he waits for his father to work on his consistently-too-small boots, he bounces around, full of pent up energy. It's like he needs to get out and run but prefers to be with his dad on the rare occasion that he can.

Kids can vary greatly on the autism spectrum, but one thing that is typically true is their lack of connection and sometimes even awareness of others. It's like they're trapped in their own mind. Gibbie doesn't seem to have this issue. He may not talk or connect, but he's all too aware of them and their needs and seemingly unaware of his own needs. Which, in my mind, almost makes him inhuman.

I do think Sir George's problems, his cry out to God, and his deliverance was realistic. And it doesn't seem harsh to me, but merciful. God doesn't typically take people out of the game, but He can and sometimes it seems He does. Although it was unfortunate for Gibbie...his father was the one thing that grounded was a blessing for Sir George. And, I imagine we'll find that it was somehow a blessing for Gibbie too.

Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
J.F. wrote: "Kids can vary greatly on the autism spectrum, but one thing that is typically true is their lack of connection and sometimes even awareness of others"

This is actually a myth that kept me from getting my son diagnosed in the first place. Children with autism will vary quite a bit on their need for touch and human connection. Some crave it in abundance and others are repulsed by it. It's a sensory processing issue.

My son is very cuddly to the point that he always wants to be near me or on top of me even at nine years old. He is very protective of his friends from school even though he doesn't talk to them or play with them. He will constantly make sure they are safe and happy though. His teachers often get tearful when they tell me about is protectiveness. One example was that the fire alarm went off at school, but his friend in a wheelchair could not get out of the building because the elevator stopped working. My son wanted to break the elevator down to save his friend. He didn't understand that it was only a drill. His diagnosis has never been called into question by the experts because of his closeness to us or his protectiveness to his friends. Gibbie's desire to be near his father is still in line with the autistic spectrum.

Autism is a communication and sensory disorder, both verbal communication and non-verbal communication. They struggle with both communicating their own thoughts and receiving communication from the world. This shows up in tons of ways from touching at wrong times to refusing kindness to not understanding their lives compared to other people's lives.

In the next chapters, we see Gibbie trying to touch an old woman's face and getting in trouble for it. This is also typical of the autistic spectrum. Gibbie's activity level, his lack of words, his misunderstanding of property, his same behavior after his father dies, and his ability to be used by those who want the things he finds are also typical of the spectrum. Gibbie fits the profile so well that I find it breath-taking.

I just love how George MacDonald writes Gibbie so beautifully. So many people think that a child with autism doesn't feel the world around them, but the truth is that they often feel the world too much. It's overwhelming for them at times and that is where some of the odd behaviors come from. They are very sensitive children who keep everything to themselves and can't communicate what they see or feel.

I would consider Gibbie's case high functioning autism, but because of his lack of language, he wouldn't be diagnosed with Aspergers. Some professionals would refuse to say he is high functioning even though he obviously can take care of himself to some degree. It's his language skills and lack of friends his age that they would fixate on. They would also point out all the ways he doesn't act like a typical child in a social context such as sitting still, mimicking adult behavior, and playing normal games.

There are other disorders, like ADHD as you pointed out, that might fit aspects of his behavior, but his lack of language is what pushes me to autism. Children with autism can make noise, but just don't speak. When they do finally beginning speaking at some point in their lives, sometimes they speak in complete sentences with no problem. I will be curious to see if that happens to Gibbie.

J.F. (jfrogers) | 49 comments Gibbie is certainly a well-written, believable character. It sounds like he was modeled after your son! I'm now to the point that Gibbie has witnessed his friend's murder and run away and I still don't see him connected with people verbally. But you're right, he does have a deep connection with them...until the murder. :( So sad.

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