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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Reason I Jump (The)
by Naoki Higashida
Age Range: 14+
Autism is a spectrum’ disorder, making it an extremely complex condition and one which can affect people very differently.
As such, a book like this is a lifesaver for parents and other family members endeavouring to understand an autistic child. What makes this book particularly effective is the fact that the author is not only on the autistic spectrum himself, but also wrote the book when he was just thirteen.
Naoki Higashida is non-verbal and communicates by pointing to letters on an alphabet grid created by his mother. His approach is beautifully accessible, offering short chapters of just a page or two in length, each aiming to provide insight into a particular aspect of autistic behaviour. The subjects are explored under questions such as ‘Why do you ask the same questions over and over?’ and ‘do you find childish language easier to understand?’
Whilst eloquently and succinctly explaining the reasons for his own actions and behaviours, Higashida also recognises the fact that autism is not a ‘one size fits all’ condition, often offering up his own interpretations of the behaviour of other autistic people. So for example, on the subject of why an autistic child might like to jump up and down (as in the title of the book) be explains that when he personally jumps “it’s as if my feelings are going upwards towards the sky” but also describes how for some people with autism jumping may be a direct physical response to feelings of happiness or sadness.
The young author calls for compassion and understanding, urging the reader to be patient and to recognise quite how painful and challenging some autistic people may find even everyday tasks. His moving accounts of what it can feel like to experience the world so differently are balanced out by his assertion that given the choice he would not change the way he is:
“For us, you see, having autism is normal – so we can’t know for sure what your ‘normal’ is even like.”