You've never listened to a book like The Reason I Jump. Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within. Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know. Questions such as: "Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?" "Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?" "Why don't you make eye contact when you're talking?" and "What's the reason you jump?" (Naoki's answer: "When I'm jumping, it's as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.")
With disarming honesty and a generous heart, Naoki shares his unique point of view on not only autism but life itself. His insights - into the mystery of words, the wonders of laughter, and the elusiveness of memory - are so startling, so strange, and so powerful that you will never look at the world the same way again.
©2007 Naoki Higashida (P)2013 Recorded Books
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
As a neuroscience nurse with an autistic grandson, I appreciate the insights revealed by young Naoki Higashida. It is most affirming to recognize that within the limitations of verbal and emotional expression, there is intelligence, humor and creativity trying to assert itself. What I found most heartbreaking is the realization that these children feel the burden of their families’ sorrow, frustration, and disappointment, imposing a daunting sense of responsibility to keep the family happy. (Research has shown that this is a common phenomenon among children with any chronic or terminal diagnosis, but I had not thought of it in this context).
While there must be a caveat that the experiences of Naoki may not have universal applicability for those on the spectrum, the revelations of the internal struggles to control emotions and behavior do suggest approaches that families can employ to understand and develop the abilities hidden inside their autistic loved ones. In this respect it is different from books written by those discussing the autistic experience from the caregiver’s POV. What I would love to see now is an update now that Naoki is a young adult, because one of the mysteries we would love to solve is how normal growth and development stages (such as adolescence with all of its hormonal upheavals wreaking havoc with emotional control) affect the behavior and expression of the autistic person as they mature. Anything to better prepare our loved one for his own future.
Just enjoying my readin', 'ritin', and 'rithmatic.
The Reason I Jump is a book written in 2006 by a 13 year old child with autism. In it, he attempts to answer the basic questions one might ask of someone with a spectrum disorder. That is, if they weren’t too uncomfortable to ask such questions. I don’t normally review non-fiction, but I do follow science and the autism spectrum disorder has been featured a great deal in science during the past 15 years. And thanks to wackos, like Jenny McCarthy preaching nonsense about her mommy instincts being better than science, many people think autism is caused by vaccines despite numerous clinical studies to the contrary. The truth is, science has not completely determined the causes, though genetics seems to be a dominant factor. That digression aside, I decided to read this book because I don’t really know anybody with autism. I don’t know much about the disorder at all, and when I heard about this book, I thought it an excellent time to get some information straight from the source and what better source than from a child?
David Mitchell has a child with autism and a Japanese wife. These two circumstances led to his spearheading the translation of this monograph from Japanese to English, so if you enjoyed this work in English, you can thank him and his wife for wanting to help get this information to English speakers. An introduction written by David Mitchell appears at the beginning. I think he works a little too hard at trying to describe what it is like to have autism and should have stuck to what it was like being the parent of such a child. Regardless, his words did not detract from the rest of the book. I felt it appropriate to give him his due for his contributions to the publishing process, but that also means I have to ask why he threw in his two cents since we’re effectively reading to get a first hand account, not his interpretations of what it is like to be autistic.
The Reason I Jump is not written as a narrative. It is a simple list of frequently asked questions. Or, as I said above, questions people want to ask, but would feel too uncomfortable, or maybe fear it too politically incorrect to ask. But Don’t get me started on the PC nonsense. It is this sort of nonsense that prevents people from asking these questions when the answers would aid in understanding.
The book is actually quite refreshing I often find personalized accounts annoying to read because they constantly have to appeal to some sense of over stylized humanity. Apparently most accounts have to have some bizarre human angle to get people to “care” about it. I find it strange that people aren’t interested in something just for the sake of knowing. This is the primary reason I don’t read a lot Human interest stories. They may have an element of reality that most find alluring, but they’re written like fiction and it always makes me wonder what it is they’re leaving out or what is being embellished for effect. I don’t want fairy tale embellishments, I want the straight talk and this is exactly what this book provides.
Naoki Higashida cannot speak (at least at the time he wrote the book) but he could communicate by pointing at a laminated card with letters, so no doubt the economy of the book is due to the slow method by which it was written. In my opinion, long drawn out narratives should be antithetical to much non-fiction since the goal is to communicate ideas. One would think the author and the readers would want to get to the point.
If you think that a child, or in particular, a child with autism couldn’t possibly challenge a “neurotypical” person’s understanding of their own world view, I would wager something in the first dozen questions and answers will open your eyes. Speaking of eyes, that is one points he makes. He is/was always told to look someone in the eyes when speaking to them or being spoken to by them. He effectively begs the response question: Why would his understanding of the words be improved simply by making eye contact? Too true! Just because “normal” people feel compelled to garner social cues and other information through eye-contact, why do we insist the same action will/should have the same effect on someone whom we all agree does not process the world in the same way?
Naoki Higadisha describes people’s voices as being close or far away, like a dandelion or a mountain, only the actual distance does not determine how people with autism hear the voice. He doesn’t get into the factors that determine the distance of the voice at any given time, but rather he gives some simple advice to help a speaker draw their voice closer. He asks that you say “our” name first, so they know they are being spoken to. A simple elegant solution to a situation so both parties can relate.
“What’s the worst thing about having autism?”
“Would you like to be normal?”
Numerous “Why do you do this or that” questions are all examples of the types of insights Naoki Higadisha tries to answer. He does not pretend he can answer all these questions for every autistic person, but he gives his most reasonable guess. No doubt there will be questions you’ll feel should have been asked and answered, but I think that’s just a by product of being inquisitive. A person will ask several questions for each one answered on any topic, if they are truly engaged.
The book is fairly short and ends with a short story written by Naoki Higashida. I won’t spoil any of that for you and end my review with a simple recommendation. If you would like a bit of insight into how a different set of people think and perceive the world, and how you should interact with them, this book is a good start.
"... there are times when silence is a poem." - John Fowles, the Magus ^(;,;)^
An interesting memoir, partially translated by David Mitchell, and written by a 13 yo Japanese boy with autism. If you teach, live with, know someone who has autism or an autistic child this is (or at least was for me) an insightful glimpse into the struggles and perspectives of a child with autism.
Another reminder that there are multiple ways to experience the world. Too often it seems that we have boundaries and expectations about what it means to be normal. Not all of us see the dress as Blue/Black or White/Gold. Some of us can feel the dress and some of us don't see anything at all. The more tolerant and understanding we become of the diversity of people, I believe, the better the experience we have on this blue rock will be.
I don't write book reports.
There are many experts such as scholars, doctors and parents that will tell you about Autism, but unless you climbed Mount Everest, no tour guide behind a desk can tell you the experience of climbing. This is the same thing for Autism and many other disabilities. No one can tell you what it's like to have a disorder unless you have it.
"The Reason I Jump" is a journey of a 13 year old boy that has Autism. It is written in a way to be informable like a FAQ from an adolescent that has this disability. Unless you go directly to the source for an answer, all other opinions are less irrelevant because they are hypothetical answers to the questions.
I have to thank Naoki Higashida for writing his experience on what it's like to be Autistic. His voice has more power than any behavior specialist on Autism. I'm not dismissing the experts on all disabilities, but whenever someone explains about a disorder, they are just assuming the condition.
Besides explaining his condition in his book, he tells a great story beyond his Autism. He is a profound writer, just being 13 when he wrote this book.
Yes! The insight was amazing. This is great information for anyone with a family member, friend or working with people with autism.
Learning that so much of how we react to people with autism is exactly the wrong thing to do.
Yes, I did listen to it mostly all at once. It's a very quick "read".
It's good to know that technology and other advances are allowing people with autism more opportunities to better communicate with the world and, more importantly, their loved ones. It's sad to think they are so vibrant and "alive" and so trapped by their disease.
I am an avid listener. I listen between 75-100 hours per month on my iPhone: 60% fiction to 40% non-fiction.
This short book was recommended by a friend who has impeccable taste. I was a little unsure, but a recommendation from her is worth a great deal. The bottom-line, this book is fantastic!
This is a story told first person in question and answer mode from an autistic 13-year-old's POV. He is able to communicate via an alphabet glyph enabled computer and has written this book. He answers many questions and pries your heart open to the autistic community. He answers many questions, including why he jumps (name of the book). This is a very short listen and will change your perceptions and challenge what you've been told. I am sure parents are immersed in literature already; but, for the person who knows little this is eye opening. I give it my highest recommendation.
This little book is the attempt of a non-verbal n autistic boy to address the many questions that people want him to answer about the way he behaves. The answers, and especially the things one can intuit by reading between the lines, are very enlightening and help one get a glimmer of the relation - or opposition - between the inner self and the outer behavior of people like this. It is startling, and almost unbelievable... But there are many similar narratives starting to appear, and they paint a similar picture. The most important and saddest revelation, to me, was the sense of sadness and guilt the boy felt about the way his behavior frustrated other people, and the great desire for people to not give up on him.
The author is young, and though wise in many ways, does as some reviews state seem to go too far speaking for all people on the spectrum... And yet, outside of specifics, I think he does make a good and legitimate spokesman. That is, one shouldn't attribute all of he specific behaviors and causes and feelings that he has to all on the spectrum, but his beautiful presentation of his case teaches people much about the disjunction between inner and outer self that is fairly common, and trains the mind a bit in how to try to see around this disjunction. I would say it's an invaluable text for anyone concerned for people on the spectrum.
And, it is beautifully written, poetic, and touching. The audiobook is wonderfully narrated. A gem.
As the parent of a severely autistic 20 year old, I found this book to be very insightful, inspiring and touching.
Naoki, of course.
I love the introduction too. Any one with autism in their lives will relate!
Everyone should read this book, Period.
Whether you know someone with autism or not.
Whether you are interested in how the brain works or not.
The author is a thirteen year old autistic boy. He gives such insight into what it is like to have autism that at times it is hard to remember he is only thirteen. Interwoven into the narration are tales he has written which fit beautifully into the whole.
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